Small Business Person of the Year Helps the North Minneapolis Create Community

Photo of Gloria Freeman

SBA’s Funding and Emerging Leaders Program Helped Her Succeed

Gloria Freeman, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Minneapolis-based Olu’s Home, Inc. and Olu’s Center, was chosen as Minnesota’s Small Business Person of the Year for her personal achievements and contributions to her community.


Gloria's desire to serve those in her community is rooted in her childhood. Her mother was a prominent public speaker and advocate for the mentally ill. In 1999 she founded Olu’s Home, a licensed care organization that provides residential and in-home services to the elderly and persons with developmental disabilities and mental illness. Today, the company operates 11 group homes and has over 100 employees in the Minneapolis area.


The company began the intergenerational care center, Olu's Center, in 2015. It provides a day program for children and seniors where they can interact with each other. Olu’s Center is a safe space for the young and old to interact in inner city North Minneapolis. With a mission that includes bringing healthy habits to the inner city community of North Minneapolis, she has invested heavily in a commercial kitchen. It serves only natural whole foods because as she said, “We know that healthy food helps not only children’s bodies develop. It helps their brains develop too.”


This intergenerational model also fits Gloria's value system and the joy she receives through interaction with her grandchildren. She recognized that many elders do not have extended family and that they take joy and value from interacting with young people.


In the bright, safe environment at Olu’s Center, children and seniors enjoy a green facility that uses only environmentally safe cleaning products, participates in recycling and avoids using plastics.


In addition to serving wholesome fresh foods from the store, Olu’s Center also has raised beds for the kids and seniors to grow their own vegetables for their meals. Bringing food full circle in her client’s lives is something Gloria lights up about as she explains the importance for the next generation.


While developing her business, Gloria received SBA loans and participated in the SBA Emerging Leaders Program, an intensive, MBA-level training program for executives of high-potential, small businesses in America's under-served cities.


Gloria is a contributor to Girls in Action, a member of the North Minneapolis Rotary Club, on the board for the Hennepin Theatre Trust, serves on the board for the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce, and participates in activities with Meda, UNCF, UROC, and others.


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Company Name: 
Olu's Center/Olu's Home
Minneapolis, MN