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DMB Small Business Summit empowers entrepreneurs with tangible skills during National Small Business Week

May 2, 2023

  • Over 300 Detroit entrepreneurs unite at Ford Field during National Small Business Week for a day of expert training and essential tools to achieve tangible business growth

  • Over $20,000 in cash grants and technical assistance awarded to Detroit entrepreneurs and small business owners

  • Business fellowship and digital access hub unveiled at summit to help Detroit-based small businesses reach new heights of success

  • Guest speakers including U.S. Senator Gary Peters, Baobab Fare Co-Founder and CEO Hamissi Mamba, Detroit creative Tony Whlgn and Livegistics Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer Andre Davis

May 2, 2023 (DETROIT) – Over 300 small business owners and entrepreneurs from Detroit converged at Ford Field for the highly anticipated second annual Small Business Summit, presented by Detroit Means Business. The coalition, consisting of private, public, and philanthropic partners, is committed to fulfilling the needs of small businesses in Detroit. Building on the success of the previous year’s summit, the event boasted an impressive lineup of keynote speakers, interactive workshops and invaluable networking opportunities for attendees. With the fierce competition in today’s marketplace, the goal was to provide concrete skills and proven strategies to help small business owners and entrepreneurs thrive.

“By hosting this small business summit, we aim to give Detroit’s entrepreneurs the tools, knowledge and resources they need to build and scale their businesses. Our goal is to help them overcome their challenges and create new opportunities for growth and prosperity,” said Dr. Marlo Rencher, who recently became DMB’s first president. “We believe that supporting small businesses is crucial for the economic development of our city, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to help them succeed.”

Attendees had the opportunity to learn from a variety of experts in the field, many of whom have Detroit ties. Speakers at this year’s summit included U.S. Senator Gary Peters, Baobab Fare Co-Founder and CEO Hamissi Mamba, Artist Tony Whlgn and Andre Davis, co-founder and chief financial officer for minority-owned technology company Livegistics.

Mamba, Whlgn and Davis participated in a panel discussion providing invaluable insights for business owners seeking to expand their enterprises on a global scale. Additional panels addressed funding opportunities and offered advice on prioritizing mental wellness, a crucial aspect given the high-pressure lifestyle many entrepreneurs lead.

(L to R): Panel moderator Eric Thomas, Baobab Fare Co-Founder and CEO Hamissi Mamba and Artist Tony Whlgn participate in the panel discussion: The blueprint for going global.


The organization also awarded over $20,000 in cash grants and technical assistance to small business owners courtesy of DMB supporters, TechTown Capital Program, Black Leaders Detroit and Fair Food Network.

“It’s critical that we prioritize funding and resources to support entrepreneurs, especially in times of economic uncertainty, and it is our duty to ensure that business owners have what they need to succeed,” said Kevin Johnson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, which manages DMB. “We are thankful for the generous support of donors who have recognized the importance of investing in small businesses and have provided funding to help them thrive. Together, we can empower and equip entrepreneurs with the necessary resources to create a brighter future for all.”

Courtney Hamilton (middle), owner of For the Love of Cheesecake, is presented with a $2,500 cash grant by Aaron Jackson (left), Director of the Michigan Good Food Fund, and Detroit Means Business President Dr. Marlo Rencher during the 2023 DMB Small Business Summit


The DMB also unveiled two exciting new initiatives to propel small business owners toward success. The organization launched a new fellowship through the Small Business Owner Advocates, a group of Detroit small business owners who volunteer their time as an advisory group that directly informs the strategy and programming direction of DMB. The Small Business Fellowship is open to applicants from a wide range of industries, including but not limited to retail, food and beverage, technology and professional services. Interested applicants can apply at:

In addition, DMB collaborated with the JP Morgan Chase Foundation to launch the Digital Access Hub, a platform designed to assess the digital preparedness of small businesses. Small businesses can access a wide range of resources on how to leverage technology and digital tools, including marketing tips, personalized strategy sessions and much more. Further details can be found at detroitmeansbusiness/digitalhub.

“Guided by the voices of Detroit’s small and midsize businesses and codified in its North Star goals, DMB has two main purposes. The first is to scale the ecosystem to serve exponentially more Detroit businesses with honor. The other is to elevate the quality of services, so that Detroiters are receiving the best of the best. This conference will help catalyze our bold vision for Detroit’s small business community to thrive and grow,” said Walker-Miller Energy Services Founder and CEO Carla Walker-Miller, who serves as DMB’s Executive Committee Chair. “We are fully committed to harnessing the power of Detroit’s small business ecosystem to bring this vision to life.”


About Detroit Means Business (DMB):

Detroit Means Business is a coalition of business support organizations and government agencies that was established to help small businesses in Detroit, Michigan. The coalition’s primary objective is to provide small business owners with the resources and support they need to survive and thrive in Detroit’s economy. This includes access to financing, training, technical assistance and other resources.

About Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC):

Detroit Economic Growth Corporation is a non-profit organization that serves as Detroit’s lead implementing agency for business retention, attraction and economic development. DEGC is led by a board comprised of business, civic and community leaders. Its staff provides services for key public authorities that facilitate incentives and other forms of financing for projects that bring new jobs and investment to the City. DEGC also manages important initiatives to support small businesses and grow neighborhood commercial corridors. DEGC is dedicated to inclusive development and access to economic opportunity.

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