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Ford Fund, Michigan Women's Foundation Unveil New Program to Empower Female Social Entrepreneurs

  • Ford Motor Company Fund and the Michigan Women’s Foundation kick off Ford Empower-HER to boost female entrepreneurs and help improve people’s lives

  • Ford Empower-HER will feature a business competition with $50,000 shared among the winners to support their goals for a sustainable enterprise with community impact

  • Ford Fund – the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company – supports innovative programs designed to empower women

DETROIT, April 25, 2017 – Ford Motor Company Fund and the Michigan Women’s Foundation (MWF) are launching a new initiative to support the innovative business ideas of women entrepreneurs. Ford Empower-HER will offer educational opportunities, technical assistance and financial resources to encourage creative thinkers with plans for business startups that will also make their communities better places to live.

The pilot program was announced at the annual MWF “Lights, Courage, Action” fundraising dinner in Detroit. Ford Empower-HER will build on MWF’s highly regarded Entrepreneur YOU program. MWF will utilize its extensive experience in planning and implementing successful business programs to identify emerging social entrepreneurs, provide training and mentoring, and give them the necessary tools and resources to get their new enterprise off the ground.

“Ford Empower-HER will inspire women with the business savvy to make a profit and the social awareness to make a positive impact on their community at the same time,” said Pamela Alexander, community development director, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Ford’s success has always been rooted in innovation and Ford Empower-HER advances Ford Fund’s support for women through entrepreneurship.”

Ford Empower-HER will evolve over the coming year through a series of conferences, workshops and seminars for existing or aspiring social entrepreneurs in Michigan. Business experts will discuss the basics of accounting, marketing and the law while also showing participants how to take a socially conscious idea and turn it into a sustainable venture.

A business plan competition will be developed with a total of $50,000 in impact investments awarded to the winners by Ford Fund based on community impact in categories such as mobility, women’s issues, veterans or the homeless. Along with investment dollars, the Michigan Women’s Foundation will work with entrepreneurs to find professional services and additional funding if needed.

”Three and a half years after launching our Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, MWF is the state’s largest microlender and a primary player in the region’s robust entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Carolyn Cassin, president and CEO, Michigan Women’s Foundation, a Detroit based 501 © (3) public charity. “Our goal is to provide the education, capital and mentorship women need to start and grow sustainable businesses. We are grateful that Ford has chosen investing in women to be among their priorities and we are thrilled to be selected to partner with them on Ford Empower-HER.”

Social entrepreneurship is a way of doing business that benefits people in the community, often by employing the disadvantaged, empowering people to take positive steps toward self-reliance or sharing products and/or profits with people in need. Over time it is expected that Ford Empower-HER will be replicated in other communities and partnerships will be cultivated with women’s organizations, local businesses, colleges and universities.

Ford Motor Company Fund – the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company – has long supported programs that help women succeed by overcoming social, educational and financial obstacles. Ford Fund is active in STEAM (science, technology, education, arts and math) education that is focused on encouraging girls and young women to consider careers in technical fields such as engineering and design. Ford Fund supports military families with programs such as Nurse Assistant Training through the American Red Cross, and teams of Ford employees work on a regular basis year round at homeless shelters, food banks and family centers, assisting women and their loved ones through the Ford Volunteer Corps. 

About Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services

Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community and global partners to advance driving safety, education and community life. Ford Motor Company Fund has operated for more than 67 years with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. Ford Driving Skills for Life is free, interactive, hands-on safety training focused on skill development and driving techniques, while addressing inexperience, distractions and impaired driving.  Innovation in education is encouraged through Ford Blue Oval Scholars, Ford Driving Dreams, Ford Next Generation Learning and other innovative programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. The Ford Volunteer Corps enlists more than 30,000 Ford employees and retirees each year to work on local projects that strengthen their communities and improve people’s lives in more than 40 countries around the world. For more information, visit

About Michigan Women’s Foundation

Michigan Women’s Foundation, through its statewide presence, is known as “The foundation on which Michigan’s women and girls thrive.” The mission of MWF is to advance the economic, professional and social well-being of Michigan’s women and girls. The 501(c)(3) organization has been devoted to achieving social and economic equality for women and girls in Michigan for more than 30 years.  For more information, visit 

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