A Letter from GROW CEO Bonnie Nawara


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As West Michigan small business owners are feeling from the impact of coronavirus, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women is here to help.

Dear Business Owners & Supporters,

We hear you. We see you. And, we feel it with you. The last few weeks and the immediate future have been a trying time for all of us. Our team has been and will continue working quickly to connect with current and past GROW loan clients, as well as helping everyone navigate all of the different loan, grant and support options available to them right now.

We’re working alongside our national counterparts at the US Small Business Administration (SBA), SBDC, the Association of Women’s Business Centers and the National Women’s Business Council, to name a few, to stay on top of the ever-changing legislation and programs being created. We’re reaching out to our extensive network of local lending institutions, economic development organizations and all of our volunteers to ensure the right information and resources are gathered and provided to you and our clients.

Our staff has talked with so many local small business owners, especially women entrepreneurs, about their biggest challenges (or fears) over the last week, and what all of this means for their future.

Most of our clients who qualify and use our loan programs are moderate to lower-income business owners, who didn’t qualify for traditional bank loans or funding. Due to these and other circumstances, some of these state and federal relief programs aren’t as easily accessible to these clients. As you can imagine, with all of the news and coverage for the SBA loans, EIDL and CARES act – there seem to be solutions for everyone.

While these programs and others like them are rolling out, there are still several details that need to be addressed for these business owners. In addition to supporting our business’s needs right now, there will be a huge need to support them as they rebound. They will need funding to bring staff back and purchase inventory, individual coaching and counseling with respect to how they will move forward, and help with cash flow projections and many other areas of growth.

 Our incredible team at GROW has jumped in to help from the very beginning – proactively and personally reaching out to our clients, and to other businesses who have used several of our programs. The resources our team is uncovering through their networks are also helping to build and keep our own COVID-19 resource web pages up to date with Toolkits, Webinars, Tax Details and more, all from credible organizations.

We are working with the SBA to help defer current loan client payments. Our staff is also helping business owners develop action plans to talk to their vendors, landlords, and customers to help manage cash flow, expectations, HR concerns and more.

  • If you are a small business owner looking for help, please reach out to us today.
  • If you are a supporter of GROW and are thinking of ways you can help, please support us today. All donations received support our development of new programs, as well as mission-critical operations and staff, which are instrumental in guiding and counseling our small business owners.
  • If you already give to United Way, there is a current match program in place. You can donate to UWHWM, designate your funds to GROW and they will be matched.

West Michigan is an incredible community. Amid this crisis, it is encouraging to see so many organizations and people come together to take care of our community members. There are many who will continue to need support, encouragement, and resources to come through this crisis successfully and stronger than they thought possible.

Bonnie Nawara, CEO