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Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women changes name, expands mission


The nonprofit will operate under the name Grow, to better highlight its capabilities and expanded mission, as it aids systemically excluded small business owners, regardless of gender.

Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women announced a name change this week. The organization, which has provided women business owners economic mobility in West Michigan for more than 30 years, will now operate under the name Grow.

The rebranding signals the nonprofit’s move towards inclusivity, as it expands its mission toward lending and mentorship opportunities to funding systemically excluded small businesses, regardless of an individual’s gender.

In a statement, Grow said the pandemic highlighted a reality that many business owners in marginalized communities can’t access the essential capital and knowledge necessary to start or grow a business.

"The Grow team, staff and board, are thrilled to share the evolution of our mission and vision to all current and aspiring entrepreneurs and stakeholders. Connecting to capital continues to be a need for entrepreneurs in our community,” said Milinda Ysasi, chief executive officer, Grow. “ We strive to make small business funding accessible as we work to establish a more equitable economy."

Since 2016, Grow has been established as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and one of the 147 microlenders in the United States that provides loans of up to $50,000 to support the trajectory of small businesses in its nine-county region. Grow is also one of more than 136 Women’s Business Centers (WBC) funded by the Small Business Association (SBA) in the United States that provides educational programming, business counseling and technical support.

Grow deployed $937,184 in funding to 69 businesses over the last two years when small businesses needed it the most. Of those loans, 27% have supported women-of-color-owned businesses, 69% to low-to-moderate income business owners and 73% to women-owned businesses. Additionally, these loans contributed to 193 jobs created and retained since the pandemic.

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