On Wednesday November 20, over seventy individuals came together to celebrate entrepreneurship in Flint. At the Catholic Charities Center for Hope near downtown Flint, a new, collaborative event was hosted by Kiva Flint and Flint SOUP - called Kiva SOUP.
The pairing of Michigan Corps' Kiva program in Flint and Detroit with neighborhood SOUP initiatives is quickly becoming a favorite event among communities in Michigan that are looking to spotlight and support businesses having a positive impact in the community. Last week, Kiva SOUP brought together four entrepreneurs hoping to fulfill their business and community aspirations in the City of Flint, and provided them with a crowd of people to help raise awareness and funds for their great efforts.
Flint, which has for several years been counted among the most dangerous cities in the U.S., has faced considerable challenges in finding alternative avenues to help strengthen the community. In May 2013, Michigan Corps worked with a group of community leaders and economic development organizations to create Kiva Flint, a micro-lending program that invites individuals to invest $25 or more in local small businesses. A couple months ago, Kiva Flint and Flint SOUP got together to create a soup dinner focused on featuring and funding four creative social entrepreneurs in Flint. Kiva SOUP brings four these four entrepreneurs into a community space to present their business model adn a funding need to a friendly crowd, in hopes of being chosen to receive a grant funded by individual contributions of $5 by all those in attendance. But not only does this dinner bring together dollars, it helps created connections between entrepreneurs and the local community, all among an evening of food, community and mingling-fun.
Presenters at Flint's first ever Kiva SOUP included an emerging non-profit with a mission to offer new and used formal gowns to deserving high school girls of Mid Michigan who are in financial difficulty (My Dreams Do Come True - Walethia Aquil), a local pastor launching a business to introduce historically significant African American art to Flint and Michigan (The Artis Collection - Anthony Artis), a Flint native graphic designer helping to create everything from t-shirts and branding for Flint residents and businesses (Mark 3 Graphic Design - Marcus Bieth), and the evening's winner presenter - A maintenance and landscaping business providing living wages and work for troubled youth and returning citizens, helping to transition ex-felons to a life of stability and community engagement (3R / Better Living Investments - Leon El-Alamin).
As Kiva SOUP kicked off, Flint Mayor Dayne Walling opened the podium for the presenters with a message to a crowd eager to invest time and effort into Flint's future. "I cannot think of a better way to spend your money if you care about the future of Flint", said Mayor Walling.
After the presenters took to the stage, the crowd enjoyed a meal of salad, bread, and of course, a large variety of soups provided by the community. Finally, attendees voted on nwho they thought should receive the funds collected from the dinner. Leon, the winning entrepreneur, said the money will go towards the renovation of a soon to be opened office space to help expand the rehabilitation program he runs within his maintenance and landscaping business.
For more information on Kiva Flint or Kiva SOUP in Flint, email email@example.com
. To become a part of Team Kiva Flint and support entrepreneurs hoping to rebuild Flint, visit http://michigancorps.org/teamkivaflint