Building A Global Region

For the last two and a half years, Engagement Specialist Md Abdul Muhit has been the anchor of Global Detroit’s outreach strategy in the Banglatown neighborhood of Detroit, leading teams that have engaged ethnic business owners, knocking hundreds of doors to help residents prevent tax foreclosure, and connecting residents with any number of asset-building opportunities.

Muhit worked very closely with Banglatown business owners by organizing periodic entrepreneurship gatherings with Bangladadeshi, Yemeni, African-American and other business owners and helped introduce several businesses to ProsperUS Detroit that resulted in microloans that enabling expansion. He also helped our team grow the number of businesses applying to NEIdeas for business expansion grants. While securing 19 applications in last year’s applicant pool, including Everyday Super Discounts, which won, Muhit helped the Banglatown and Hamtramck team with nearly 70 NEIdeas applications this year!

When Global Detroit got the news last month that Muhit had been offered a job at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, we initially reacted with sadness. Muhit proved to be amazing at building relationships across communities. Global Detroit invested 2.5 years of training and support in Muhit—recruiting him only two months after he arrived in the U.S. (he is originally from Bangladesh) to help connect our Opportunity Neighborhoods and entrepreneurship work with the Banglatown community.

Since our inception, Global Detroit’s mission has been to build a more inclusive regional economy that gives businesses a competitive advantage and enhances the prosperity of everyone in the region region. Muhit now joins the DEGC as their District Three Business Liaison ; and we are proud to say that Muhit’s success is our gain as well. His story demonstrates how building an inclusive region can work.

Muhit continues his work by helping small businesses grow. He explains, “the resources are there, my work is about making sure owners know about them. Any city should be proud to watch their small businesses grow and create opportunities for these ambitious, risk-taking immigrants. This is what building a growing economic region looks like: helping more people gain access.”

What sets Global Detroit’s work apart from traditional immigrant rights advocacy and immigrant service organizations has been our tenacious focus on the big picture and regional change. We believe that, often, the most impactful and important means to realizing our mission is not the success of our own programs or the individual international students or immigrant entrepreneurs that we assist. Rather regional change is most powerful when regional institutions and leaders  to adopt more inclusive policies and practices.

When we started our work in 2010, there were no entrepreneurial training and lending programs with bilingual staff and classes. DEGC’s recruitment of Muhit, fluent in Bangla, marks the sixth organization to develop a multilingual approach to helping and supporting Detroit entrepreneurs and business owners.

The fact that Muhit was able to develop his own skills and secure a good-paying job to help support his wife and two young children is one level on which Global Detroit seeks to operate—by helping immigrants to gain experience and build professional networks that assist them in securing economic opportunities. Muhit’s work with Global Detroit highlighted for the DEGC the value of having staff person with roots and trust in the rapidly expanding Bangladeshi business community. Muhit demonstrated that with the right outreach we could generate scores of solid applications to NEIdeas from Bangladeshi businesses; that there were worthy businesses for ProsperUS Detroit micro-loans; and that there were Bangladeshi entrepreneurs who could benefit from the technical assistance from SCORE volunteers.

Today we celebrate Md Abdul Muhit. If you ever met Muhit—I am sure you were impressed by his infectious enthusiasm and deep commitment to excellence in serving the community and Global Detroit’s partners. We are honored to be a part of his American journey. And we congratulate the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation on recognizing his talent and building an inclusive business engagement team. We hope this signals to other business leaders the value of diversity in leadership and the need to hire and promote immigrant talent.

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