Second annual EmpowerHER Summit June 27

June 22, 2018

Michigan Women Forward (formerly Michigan Women’s Foundation) and Ford Motor Company Fund are helping launch successful social enterprises with the Second Annual EmpowerHER Summit on Wednesday, June 27 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Detroit Mercy's Student Union.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for women to hear from industry experts, successful entrepreneurs and share tips with one another on education, mentorship, networking and access to capital,” said Carolyn Cassin, president and CEO of Michigan Women Forward. “We’ve assembled some of the best social venture enterprise speakers so our attendees can have a meaningful day at the Summit.”

Summit attendees will represent the entire spectrum of social venture businesses from ideas to startups to companies in a growth phase.

“These companies impact neighborhoods, cities and the world.  When people hear that someone started a company to help people or the environment, they are more eager to be a part of their story, to consume their product and in their own way contribute to a lasting benefit to society,” Cassin said.

In addition to keynote addresses, attendees will participate in breakout sessions and interactive workshops. To bridge last year’s Summit with this year’s event, several of last year’s competition winners are leading breakout sessions, including SignOn and Motor City STEAM.

"Ford Fund has long supported programs that help women overcome obstacles and we are proud to again partner with Michigan Women Forward for our second year of EmpowerHER,” said Yisel Cabrera, community relations manager, Ford Motor Company Fund. "Helping make people's lives better is core to everything we do at the Ford Fund and EmpowerHER is a great example of how we live out this mission. By supporting the innovative business ideas of women entrepreneurs, we are helping them succeed individually and we're strengthening the communities where they live and work, as well."

“This event is great for both established social enterprises as well as people that might be curious on how to start a social enterprise of their own,” said Derrin J. Leppek, director, Center for Social Entrepreneurship at University of Detroit Mercy. “With multiple workshops focusing on topics such as legal issues, sustainability, and knowing your numbers, there will be plenty of valuable information to satisfy all.”

In addition to the workshops, a few programming highlights include:

  • Keynote Address at 8:45 a.m.— Carolyn Yarina, chief executive officer and co-founder of Sisu Global Health. Carolyn has raised more than $1.5M of investment from investors including Steve Case, Camden Partners and Belle Michigan. Sisu Health is medical device company that creates products for use in emerging markets, such as Hemafuse which is used in blood transfusions.
  • Closing Keynote Address at 3:45 p.m. — Arielle Renee Johnson, a serial entrepreneur, events producer, hospitality specialist and non-profit leader. In 2012, Arielle founded FIERCE (Female Icons Encouraging Real Concepts of Empowerment) targeting young mothers with the tools and resources needed for healthy living, financial stability and career growth.

Tickets for the full day of training are $35 per person and can be purchased at