This summer I have been placed with ProsperUS. This company works toward entrepreneurial development for low-income and minority individuals in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park. There are three main programs under ProsperUS, the entrepreneurial training program or ETP, the technical assistance program, and the micro-lending program. The ETP is a 12-week long course for entrepreneurs offered at a low cost to train individuals about operating their business. This program is offered twice a year at several community sites. The second ProsperUS unit, technical assistance, is available to any business that applies for it, and this program works to connect entrepreneurs with services such as legal assistance, web design, marketing, etc. Finally, the micro-lending program of ProsperUS gives out loans to business owners who otherwise would not qualify for a loan. These loans are also usually much smaller than what a traditional lending service would dole out.
My summer research project is to evaluate the collaborative project of ProsperUS and FoodLab, another local organization. Under a grant from the Tapestry Project, these two organizations have been working together over the past several months to offer coaching to a cohort of food entrepreneurs in Detroit. This program is still ongoing, but I will be collaborating with Torisa, who is placed at FoodLab, and we will be surveying the entrepreneurs in the program and compiling a report of our findings.
My first week at ProsperUS flew by. I started by meeting with everyone in the company virtually, and this was a great way to become acquainted remotely. I also learned to adapt very quickly, as the project I was assigned was not the one I originally had been anticipating. Although I haven’t been given a heavy workload at this point, I have learned to take initiative and motivate myself to go beyond what is asked of me. I wish I was able to interact with my DCERP fellows beyond our biweekly zoom meetings, but I think having an individual learning group helps with this. I hope to become more acquainted with my fellow DCERP interns as the summer progresses!