Michigan Women Forward selected 10 women entrepreneurs as finalists for the 53 Voices pitch challenge.
The statewide foundation that supports women entrepreneurs said Tuesday, Sept. 28, it has selected 10 finalists for the 53 Voices pitch competition sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, including two from the Grand Rapids area.
“This impressive list of finalists is a testament to the power and resilience of Michigan women,” said Alexis Dishman, chief lending officer at Michigan Women Forward. “We created the 53 Voices pitch challenge to reduce barriers to raising business capital by providing Michigan women with the funding, training resources and social connections needed to turn an idea into a viable business. This would not be possible without MWF’s partnership with Fifth Third Bank.”
Each finalist submitted a 53-second video outlining their idea, and they are available to watch here. The public will have the opportunity to cast a vote for their favorite idea by visiting miwf.org. Voting will be open from today, Sept. 30, through Wednesday, Oct. 13.
After submitting their business concept papers and 53-second voice submissions, applicants completed three Michigan Women Forward entrepreneur education training workshops.
“It’s not easy to turn your dreams into a reality,” said Tawnya Rose, vice president and community and economic development manager at Fifth Third Bank. “Fifth Third Bank is inspired by the hard work and persistence of all who applied to the 53 Voices pitch challenge. This opportunity will truly be life-changing for our lucky winner.”
The winners of the 53 Voices pitch challenge will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 19. The first-place winner will receive $5,000, second-place winner will receive $2,500, and the third-place winner will receive $1,000.
- AnnaMaria Pasley-Horn, of Hope Central Urban Arts in Lansing, an after-school program that teaches the performing and technical arts
- Jacqueline McCollum, of GloblHue LLC, which showcases minority-owned businesses, along with spaces where minority college graduates and job seekers can promote themselves
- Sandra Jonick, of U-Plant Landscape Designs in Grand Rapids,which creates landscape designs for homeowners to install themselves
- Alyson Caillaud-Jones, of Chartreuse Sisters LLC in Grand Rapids, a French-American fusion patisserie run by Alyson and her sister, Mallory
- Lesa Walker, of Sweet Thoughts in Detroit, which aims to make healthy snacking taste great with new D’lishus Sweet Krispy Chips
- Celeste Belanger, of The Mustard House in Detroit, a place for people to gather in a specialty shop with a cafe and garden
- Jennifer Justis, of Sleepy Dog Books in Mt. Pleasant, a carefully curated boutique bookstore that sells new books along with retail offerings
- Yvette Jenkins, of Love Travels Imports in Detroit, which develops, produces and distributes ethically made sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic bags
- Chantele Jones, of Estella’s Vegan Dessert Boutique in Detroit, the city’s first all-vegan bakery
- Chevelle Brown, of I Teach Chess in Detroit, which uses chess to train young minds to become critical thinkers
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.