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Detroit SOUP has found a home for the foreseeable future at the Jam Handy building on W. Grand Blvd.

Detroit SOUP has found a home for the foreseeable future at the Jam Handy building on W. Grand Blvd.

By a show of hands, the recent coverage that Detroit SOUP received on NBC’s Nightly News didn’t have much to do the over-capacity crowd at last night’s special SOUP event, co-hosted with Kiva Detroit. The event featured four small businesses vying for crowd favorite, rather than the usual mix of prospects for micro-grant funding, which in the past has included art projects, social services and radio stations.

SOUP has been formalizing its act, with bleacher seating and a corps of devoted regulars that brought their own chairs.

SOUP has been formalizing its act, with bleacher seating, more full-sized tables, and a corps of devoted regulars that brought their own chairs.

As organizer Amy Kaherl pointed out, small business start-ups have never won the SOUP pot, so it made sense to collaborate with Kiva to create a special SOUP event restricted to contenders in that class. Last night’s SOUP pot was approximately $1,700, comprised of the $5 entry fee which granted more than 300 attendees some soup, a single vote, and the benefits of an evening spent in the company of other people who believe in the power of localized investments and the regeneration of Detroit on a grassroots level.

Amy Kaherl, SOUP organizer and champion of crowd-sourcing culture.

Amy Kaherl, SOUP organizer and champion of crowd-sourcing culture.

Last night’s presenters were Amanda Brewington, representing Always Brewing Detroit, a coffee shop/gathering space which enjoyed pop-up success in the Grandmont-Rosedale neighborhood earlier last year, and is looking to make that relationship permanent. She was followed by Sebastian Jackson, Wayne State Student and entrepreneurial mind behind the Social Club Grooming Company.

Jackson's Social Grooming Club donates all their untreated hair clippings to be used for local tree farming, as the high nitrogen content in hair makes it an ideal fertilizer component.

Jackson’s Social Grooming Club donates all their untreated hair clippings to be used for local tree farming, as the high nitrogen content in hair makes it an ideal fertilizer component.

Katie Kolbus spoke next, expounding on the particulars for Motown Freedom Bakery, her allergy-friendly mobile bakery, which currently creates “elevated baked goods” to sustain satisfaction, and is exploring cooperative-style delivery schedules to meet mobile demand all over the Detroit metro area. The evening’s final presentation was made on behalf of Elias Lopez, a formerly homeless man who is working to raise the franchise fee to cover a windshield repair micro-franchise.

Conversation following the presentations was brisk, as attendees decided who should receive their vote.

Conversation following the presentations was brisk, as attendees decided who should receive their vote.

Congrats to Always Brewing Detroit, who took the micro-funding honors! If you’d like to support some of the other contenders, both Social Club Grooming Company and Motown Freedom Bakery can be found by searching ‘Detroit’ at zip.kiva.org and search.

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