By Chris Knape (Business Editor, The Grand Rapids Press/
A $700,000 grant will help launch two programs later this year geared toward helping Michigan women start their own businesses and help foster female business leadership.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp awarded the Inforum Center for Leadership the grant to help it launch ACTiVATE, a technology commercialization program, and to provide connections to Astia, a global non-profit geared toward developing female entrepreneurs and leaders.

“Women are forming their own businesses at roughly twice the rate of men are but they tend to be under represented in some of the high-growth areas like technology companies,” said Terry Barclay, president and CEO of InForum, a professional women’s organization which has offices in Detroit and Grand Rapids. “This enables us to bring two of the absolute best programs nationally to Michigan.”

ACTiVATE will be a nine-month program that will offer low-cost classes and mentoring that will help women choose a business path and find intellectual property at that state’s universities that is available for commercialization. ACTiVATE is expected to launch in late fall. The grant funding is expected to last up to three years and allow 60 to 75 participants.

Astia is an established women’s entrepreneurial network that offers networking, mentoring, classes and meetings with venture capitalists.

The grant funding for Astia will help women who become Astia entrepreneurs participate in networking events and venture capital meetings in order to launch or grow their businesses and enhance their skills. Barclay hopes to refer at least 25 women to the program each year.

This post was originally posted at Michigan Live.