WE Build Program Launches to Foster Growth in Detroit Women Developers

Ten women developers posing around a table

Historically, women have faced barriers to success in the commercial real estate development industry. Cinnaire, in collaboration with the Women’s Sustainable Development Initiative (WSDI), is addressing those barriers with the launch of the Women Empowered to Build (WE Build) Program in Detroit. This pioneering initiative is a yearlong free training and mentoring program kicking off this week aimed at fostering diversity and inclusivity in the field of real estate development in Michigan. Cinnaire and WSDI joined forces to accelerate the fundability, stability and growth of women-led businesses and women-led nonprofits in real estate development.

The WE Build program features monthly in-person sessions complemented by virtual discussions and supplemental learning. WSDI developed the curriculum to be inclusive of the full pre-development process and establish lender relationships. Training topics include understanding real estate trends, financial modeling, assessing the suitability of a property for development, and project funding.

“This program embodies so much of what we strive to do at Cinnaire,” said Lisa Campbell, vice president Cinnaire Community Connection in Detroit. “We are committed to accelerating the success of emerging women real estate developers working on projects located in disinvested communities and prioritizing environmental, social and governance (ESG) components in their projects. This program is going to be a game-changer for this cohort of developers and the communities affected by their work.”

WSDI’s president Karen Burton said, “This collaborative initiative reflects our shared commitment to fostering diversity, inclusivity, and belonging within the commercial real estate sector. By combining WSDI’s dedication to advancing women in development with Cinnaire’s expertise in equitable community development, we are excited to provide a comprehensive curriculum that equips women with the skills and knowledge to excel at developing property. Together, we aim to create an accelerated learning experience that not only empowers women in the field but also contributes to the growth and sustainability of vibrant communities in Michigan.”

WE Build received an overwhelming response to the launch of the program. From a pool of 55 applicants, 10 exceptional women were selected to participate in this initial cohort including:

  1. Tanya Saldivar-Ali, AGI Construction, LLC, and Detroit Future Ops
  2. Monique Becker, Mona Lisa Living
  3. Tanya Clark, TGK Sustainable Development Group LLC
  4. Ronita Coleman, LJ Golden Realty
  5. ShaWanna Gajewski, Gajewski Homes
  6. Karen Hunter, K and J Investments Plus and TGK Sustainable Development Group LLC
  7. Marria McIntosh, Thredz
  8. Kimle Nailer, Nail-Rite Construction Company
  9. Candus Rucker, Rucker Property Management Group LLC
  10. Jordan Yagiela, Team Yagiela LLC

To qualify for this distinctive program, the women were required to have at least two years experience in commercial real estate or business. They also must have a development project underway, with a housing component, that will have a demonstrable impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

The 10 women selected have active projects that represent diverse areas across Michigan including Detroit, Ann Arbor, Mackinac City, Inkster, Pontiac, Muskegon Heights. These projects are expected to serve as economic catalysts to the surrounding areas and bring much needed affordable housing units to these markets.

Additionally, Cinnaire Community Connection will play a pivotal role in funding the projects through Recoverable Grants, allowing the developers to leverage flexible funding for their pre-development work.

The next WE Build cohort will be held in 2026. For more information, please visit www.cinnaire.com and www.womendevelop.org.

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