Organization opens WomanUp & Pitch applications

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Carolyn Cassin Courtesy Michigan Women Forward

Michigan Women Forward is encouraging women business owners across Michigan to apply for a chance to win a $10,000 grand prize.

Detroit-based Michigan Women Forward — which has locations in Grand Rapids and Lansing — is now accepting applications for its business plan and pitch competition WomanUp & Pitch.

Sponsored by the Consumers Energy Foundation, WomanUp & Pitch is a funding opportunity for women who are looking to start or grow an existing for-profit business. The nonprofit awards up to $10,000 in prizes to women with the best pitches for a new business or plan to expand their current business.

There will be four virtual pitch competitions held in March 2022. West Michigan applicants will virtually pitch their business plan on March 3, mid-Michigan on March 10, southeast Michigan on March 24, and a statewide food business pitch competition will be held on March 31.

Applicants will share their pitch with an audience comprised of business experts, fellow entrepreneurs, small business owners, potential investors and community leaders. The entrepreneurs will need to impress the judges with their business plan and appeal to the audience, as the audience in each location will vote for their favorite pitch.

“WomanUp & Pitch is an amazing opportunity for budding female entrepreneurs to develop their presentation skills, think strategically to create a strong business plan and make connections with the peers and business leaders,” said Carolyn Cassin, president and CEO of Michigan Women Forward. “We’re proud to play a role in providing women with these vital experiences to help them build successful businesses that will ultimately enhance their communities.”

Forty businesswomen will be selected as finalists in two categories:

  • Idea phase/startup — in business less than three years and revenue less than $250,000
  • Established growth — in business for three years or more and/or revenue greater than $250,000

The top 40 finalists will be connected to advisers, coaches and mentors. Established women in business will serve as mentors and coaches and guide mentees through the process of creating a viable business plan, as well as prepare them to take the stage to make their pitch.

Business plans will be reviewed in advance of the pitch competition by each judge. Business plans will account for 60% of the final score, while the pitch will account for 40%.

Carolyn Bloodworth. Courtesy Consumers Energy Foundation

“We’re excited to help local entrepreneurs energize the community and grow the economy,” said Carolyn Bloodworth, secretary/treasurer of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “As part of our commitment to Michigan’s prosperity, we’re pleased to support the WomanUp & Pitch competition and invest in the success of entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

The WomanUp & Pitch first-place winner will receive $10,000, the second-place winner will receive $5,000, and the third-place winner will receive $2,500. An audience choice of $1,000 will be awarded to the entrepreneur who receives the most audience votes in each location.

Applications for WomanUp & Pitch will be accepted until Nov. 10. Applicants’ businesses must be at least 51% women owned. Female entrepreneurs across the state who need assistance with their application can attend two virtual training sessions at miwf.org.

Applications for WomanUp & Pitch are open at miwf.org/wei/womanup-programs.

Michigan Women Forward

Founded in 1986 by 20 visionaries who conceived of an organization that would encourage women to play an active role in philanthropy and governance, MWF is a community development organization whose mission is to expand economic opportunity, empower the next generation, and celebrate and honor the accomplishments of Michigan women.

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