By: Dana Johnson

As part of our commitment to Michigan’s female entrepreneurs and small businesses, our Company and Foundation have been longtime supporters of Michigan Women Forward (MWF). This community development organization is dedicated to helping Michigan women and girls thrive and realize their full potential.

Founded in 1986 as Michigan Women’s Foundation, the nonprofit raised funds to support women’s programs throughout the state. After years of grantmaking, the organization realized the need to create measurable change and shifted its focus to microlending to improve economic opportunities for women in underserved communities. Today, MWF is a certified development financial institution (CDFI) offering loans and mentorship programming to women and girls across the state.

MWF helps women entrepreneurs build wealth and long-term stability through educational programs, microloans, and other financial support. Their programs focus on providing access to capital and technical assistance for women entrepreneurs of color. Approximately two-thirds of MWF’s loan clients are businesses owned by people of color and about 72% qualify as low- to moderate-income.

Since 2018, MWF has operated the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame (referred to as the HERstory Gallery) in celebration of the contributions of female trailblazers.

Since 2015, our Foundation has contributed $1.4 million to MWF, primarily supporting their Women’s Entrepreneurial Initiative. This program provides microloans to women experiencing barriers to traditional funding sources, and also supports their WomanUp & Pitch Competition.

Historically underserved populations were hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and MWF partnered with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to launch the creation of the Resilience Microloan and Grant Fund program to help small businesses and entrepreneurs. Our Foundation provided a $200,000 grant to support this program.

Support for Michigan Women Forward is a small part of our Foundation’s commitment to female entrepreneurs and small businesses across Michigan. Last year, the Consumers Energy Foundation, Consumers Energy, its employees and retirees contributed over $17.5 million to Michigan nonprofits.