When Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) opened its doors in 1989, it was an innovative program, one of few in the country designed to teach entrepreneurial skills.
The concept was to empower low- to moderate- income women to become entrepreneurs, and make a long term impact on their economic independence.
GROW’s founder, LeAnne Moss was 23-years old, a graduate of Hope College, and a social worker. As a social worker, she became aware of the barriers that women were facing and witnessed a lack of options for change. After meeting with local business women, educators, individuals from economic development programs, and researching alternative economic development strategies, Moss became intrigued with the idea of micro-enterprise. In the fall of 1989, with the support of area business professionals and leaders from the community, Moss founded GROW, a non-profit, economic development agency dedicated to providing education, connections, and resources that create and strengthen small businesses.
Since that time, GROW has served thousands of women in West Michigan. Due to the tumultuous economic events in the recent past and with the economic situation today, the face of GROW has changed. While we continue to support our original mission, at the start of 2010, GROW expanded programming to serve individuals regardless of social, educational, and economic background, and gender, at every stage of business ownership…a truly diverse group!
“Economists know that entrepreneurship will drive the economy back to health.”
-Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
In September of 2009, GROW celebrated 20 years of helping individuals become financially independent through microenterprise and financial literacy.
- GROW is 1 of 110 designated Women Business Centers (WBC) in the United States and 1 of 3 in the state of Michigan (Ann Arbor and Benton Harbor)
- GROW provides business training and resources, counseling and networking opportunities where high-potential individuals gain knowledge, skills, and support to start and grow their businesses.
- New programming supports existing, established business owners with networking opportunities and ongoing education.
- GROW offers hands-on, applicable education that business owners need in order to compete in a volatile marketplace.
- Over 80 business professionals volunteer their time to facilitate our classes, giving our clients the most up-to-date and relevant tools, strategies, and technology to run their businesses.
It has become very apparent that the type of work GROW does is unique, important, and timeless. GROW helps entrepreneurs start and expand their businesses, offering positive and constructive answers to West Michigan’s job loss and economic malaise. The cumulative effect is a revitalization of this community and its middle class.