Could you do a Detroit Soup?

An inspirational initiative across the pond is making hundreds of ideas a business reality.

It’s not often that an entire city files for bankruptcy, but that’s what Detroit was forced to do back in 2013. Years of decline had taken their toll with thousands choosing to flee, but for Amy Kaherl that wasn’t an option – she still saw potential in her city.

The success of her initiative - Detroit Soup - showed its ability to weather the storm, her decision to stick with Detroit vindicated clearly in 2015. Despite the deprivation Detroit now bustles with creative startup after creative startup, Detroit Soup playing a key role in revitalising the community.

So what is Detroit Soup, and why would you want run one in your own town or city?

The idea

Every month in downtown Detroit Amy hosts a microgranting dinner. It costs $5 (although you can donate more) and for that you receive soup, salad, bread, and a vote.

During the dinner you listen to four four-minute presentations from a diverse mix of local artists, businesses and initiatives, with audience members given a maximum of four questions to ask each presenter.

Everybody eats, socialises and discusses, then votes on which idea should win. When the night draws to a close all the votes are counted and a winner is chosen, with their reward all the money from the door and some cash to further their idea.

Who’s it helped?

Since its inception in 2010 Detroit Soup’s raised over $85,000, its funding fuelling an array of ideas across the city, including:

Empowerment Plan

Empowerment Plan hires and trains homeless people to manufacture all-in-one coats, which can be transformed into a sleeping bag at night and a bag when not in use. The coats are then distributed to people living on the streets, at no cost to them but instead through partnerships established with outreach organisations. Its founder Veronika Scott received $850 from Detroit Soup back in 2010, and grew her idea from there.

Sit On It Detroit

Around half of the bus stops in Detroit offer no place to sit, but Sit On It Detroit seeks to change all that through their bus stop benches with a difference. Their benches include a free library, encouraging the city to read, and since winning $1100 from Detroit Soup their business has gone from strength to strength.

Rebel Nell

Like most cities Detroit is covered in graffiti, but where some may see this as urban decay Rebel Nell see this as opportunity. They collect graffiti that’s fallen off walls and using this, create jewellery, which they then sell through their online platform and retailers across the US. Like Rebel Nell their focus is on employing the city’s homeless and from their initial $1474 funding from Detroit Soup they’ve grown their business significantly.

Fancy starting a Soup?

As you can probably appreciate starting a Soup is really pretty simple, and already a number are beginning to pop up across the UK. Notable ones including:

With lenders so cautious and credit still tight why not take matters into your own hands? As Detroit Soup shows community spirit can go some way to filling the funding gap, and to help you on your way Amy Kaherl’s built a handy How To Soup guide. Click here to find out more and set up your own Soup.

What do you make of Detroit Soup? Is there anything similar in your town or city? Let us know in the comments below.

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