Michelle Richards, President of WBEC – Great Lakes will present New Economy equals New Opportunities for women business owners. She then will moderate a Corporate Procurement Professionals Panel Discussion.
Michelle Richards was a founding board member and is the Executive Director of the Center for Empowerment & Economic Development (CEED) since its inception in 1984. CEED is a nonprofit organization which assists women and minorities in small business development and expansion.
Michelle has guided CEED with the belief and principle that social change occurs quickly and naturally through economic justice. Access to microcredit is one of the tools that are needed for economic justice. CEED’s microloan program has made over $ 4 million in microloans, creating 1700 jobs. Our business training program has trained more than 5,000 women business owners.
In 1998, the Michigan Women’s Business Council, renamed the Women’s Business Enterprise Council – Great Lakes (WBEC – Great Lakes) was created when CEED became a partner with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) enabling CEED to provide women’s business enterprise certification and procurement opportunities. WBENC is dedicated to advancing the success of certified women’s business enterprises, government agencies and corporate members in partnership with its affiliated women’s business organizations. WBEC – Great Lakes leverages this partnership as a way to open doors for women business owners particularly in the automotive industry. Through the efforts of CEED and its WBEC – Great Lakes, every year Michigan women’s business owners can attribute many million dollars of contracts to the value of women’s business certification.
As a national and regional advocate for women business owners, Michelle Richards has been honored with the following awards: Athena Award, Michigan Small Business Administration Women’s Business Advocate of the Year Award, the Red Tape Buster Award from the National Association of Women’s Business Owners – Greater Detroit. She was also recognized as An Influential Woman in Business by Business Direct Weekly Magazine. In 2005, Michelle was part of a professional delegation lead by Michigan State University’s Center for Advanced Study of International Development that traveled to Ghana, West Africa to instruct on women’s business development.
Beyond accolades, Ms. Richards is in the trenches championing for level playing fields and advocating for women and minorities. Under her leadership, CEED began as one of the first microloan programs in the country in 1984. President Bill Clinton visited the organization and its members to celebrate the achievements of this innovative loan program. Her work has brought such leaders as 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Muhammad Yunis, of the Grameen Bank, Maya Angelou noted poet laureate and other notable advocates for business owners.