Embark on a journey through four decades of empowerment as we celebrate the 40 years of the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council, formerly the Center for Empowerment and Economic Development (CEED Lending). In 1984, with humble beginnings, our mission was clear: to provide vital financial assistance and technical support to women and minority-owned small businesses. Operating with just one staff member, a handful of volunteers, and devoid of today’s ubiquitous technology, the organization pioneered a path to shape the landscape of women’s and community development organizations, sparking a nationwide movement. This celebration is not just a reflection on the past; it’s a testament to the extraordinary success and economic impact that the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council (Great Lakes WBC) has achieved over the years.
At the forefront of innovation, we proudly held the distinction of being the first microloan program in the nation and one of only two women’s business centers. Join us in commemorating this remarkable journey at our 40th-anniversary celebration alongside our visionary founder, Michelle Richards. Michelle’s influence extends far beyond our organization. A trailblazer for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), she founded the council. She was pivotal in shaping the landscape of early industry organizations like the Association of Enterprise Opportunities and Opportunities Finance Network. Her lasting impact resonates in creating the Community Development Financial Institutions certification by the U.S. Treasury—an achievement that underscores her indispensable contribution to the field. Let’s commemorate four decades of innovation, resilience, and Michelle’s indelible mark on the industry.
Who Should Attend?
Business owners, CEED Lending clients, current and past corporate members, government advocates, WBENC colleagues from around the country, or anyone associated with WBENC who has supported or continues to support the Great Lakes WBC or any of our impactful initiatives at this milestone celebration, let’s come together to honor the legacy, resilience, and triumphs of the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council.