Success Stories

Just like any new business owner, Serena Allen began her entrepreneurial journey by taking a risk. While teaching in the mornings in Greenville, Michigan, and going to school to pursue her master’s degree, Allen decided it was time to fulfill her dream of opening a bridal shop.  She spent her afternoons planning and developing her business idea and with the help of an SBA microloan and mentoring from the West Michigan Small Business Development Center, she was off down the entrepreneurial aisle.

Allen first became interested in the bridal industry after helping to plan a wedding with a friend back in 2012. After recognizing that Greenville didn’t have a bridal shop, it just made sense to move forward. She began working with a business consultant at the SBDC to polish her business plan and the microloan program at Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, an SBA funded organization, was recommended to her.  She worked with GROW staff to secure a $32,000, five year SBA microloan,... Read More

As president of Innovative Solution Partners, Mariyah Saifuddin had a 17-year track record of success in the commercial sector, but believed it was time to break into the government sector.  However, government contracting required her and her staff to learn a different skill set, so she turned a familiar partner: the SBA’s Michigan District Office. 

After being accepted into SBA’s 8(a) program, which focuses on providing small businesses with opportunities in government contracting, the Innovative Solution Partners team participated in several contract training programs and learned the ins and outs of how to do business with the federal government.

A client of SBA’s Michigan District Office for several years, Saifuddin was confident this program would yield similar results as the Emerging Leaders executive management program that helped her write a strategic growth plan, introduced her to subject matter experts and fellow executives to share ideas, and helped her... Read More

As early as high school, Tarolyn Buckles had her heart set on being an architect. But that all changed when the Michigan Department of Transportation visited her Detroit public high school and offered co-ops at the government agency. Buckles remembers saying, “If engineering involves working with architects, sign me up!”  That decision changed the course of her future, as did her decision to attend the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders program.

After receiving a degree in Civil Engineering Structures from the University of Michigan and successful stints at several engineering companies in metro Detroit, Buckles established Onyx Enterprise, Inc., in 2007 and launched the company full-time in 2011. A certified woman- and minority-owned small business headquartered in Detroit, Onyx Enterprise provides engineering consulting, project management and construction management services to local, state, federal government, engineering consulting firms and... Read More

Alexandra Clark, Owner of Bon Bon Bon

Ever since Alexandra Clark fell in love with chocolate while working at a local ice cream parlor, she knew that a life of confectionary was her destiny. She’s traveled the world learning about the industry – graduating from Michigan State University’s Hospitality and Food Science program, studying agricultural economics of chocolate in New Zealand, attending French pastry school in Chicago, and obtaining a pastry certification from the culinary program at Schoolcraft College in Michigan. Clark has worked for over 20 chocolatiers and credits her parents who supported her passion for chocolate. At only 26 years of age, Clark is the owner of Bon Bon Bon, a local candy producer headquartered in Hamtramck, an enclave of Detroit. In 2014, she started her business in a tiny 475-square-foot factory, but quickly outgrew the space and opened a downtown Detroit retail location in 2015. Business took off and Clark soon realized that she once again needed a larger facility, so in 2016 she... Read More