College Grad Creates Empowerment Plan For Detroit’s Homeless Women


If you Google ‘female entrepreneurs’ you will see a plethora of news stories and websites that come up in the search results touting the incredible things women are doing all over the world.

There is a popular African proverb that says “if you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (or a nation). The same has been said about money, that women are more likely to spend money they have feeding their families (communities) as opposed to men.

These two concepts are at the heart of female entrepreneurship, and today’s millennial generation, which has a heart for social change and being different from the consumer-driven baby boomers who came before them, are proving it time and time again.

Detroit woman Veronika Scott is someone we believe is going to be a leader for her generation of women. The 24 year old came up with an idea that stemmed from a class project while she was studying at the College for Creative Studies in the motor city.

Just a bit of a background on Veronika, she did not come from a wealthy family. She is the child of addict parents, who won a scholarship to go to college. Her determination to break the cycle of substance abuse in her family life was the seed which grew into the thriving eco system she has now created.


In her class project she designed a coat for the homeless people in Detroit that also doubled as a sleeping bag. She had to go through several prototypes before perfecting the final product. One day as she was out doing research on the streets, a homeless woman started telling at her saying they didn’t need coats, they needed jobs.

Veronika then realized that her idea had to be bigger than just one idea, it had to be about empowering the people she was trying to help. That’s how her company The Empowerment Plan came to fruition in 2010.

Detroit is one of the coldest cities in the United States, with a homeless population of roughly 20,000 according to a report by the Homeless Action Network of Detroit in 2013. During the winter months, staying warm and finding shelter becomes increasingly difficult, hence Veronika’s idea for a coat to combat this problem.

But that one homeless lady scolding her for her idea became the catalyst to what Veronika ended up creating, and that was a company which not only provides coats to clothe homeless people, but also employment opportunities to help them eventually find homes and get off the streets.


Her story is similar to that of The Giving Keys founder Caitlin Crosby, who created a line of jewelery made from old keys with inspiring words carved on them, designed for the buyer to give them away to someone who is in need of it the most. The most empowering aspect of The Giving Keys is that the company employs homeless people, empowers them financially and with a skill, and enables them to eventually make enough money to get off the streets.

Veronika told ABC news that after word spread about her business plan, donations starting pouring in to help fund the coats which cost roughly $99 each to make. They are not cheap coats, they are top-of-the-line products that are designed to withstand the harsh Detroit weather.

Companies such as clothes-makers Carhartt and General Motors donated money for The Empowerment Plan to set up a factory, buy machines, makes the coats and pay the workers. They mainly employ current and former homeless women to empower them, as many of them use the money to look after their families.

In 2011 Veronika won an International Design Excellence Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America, and now her company is looking to expand in ways she never imagined. The prototype is being looked at as something that could be used in disaster relief situations and for refugees. So far they have made 275 coats, 100 of which have been given to homeless people, and some which were given to Occupy Wall street protesters in 2012.


The Empowerment Plan wants to manufacture 4000 coats to help clothe homeless people, but there is a strong sense that this idea could go worldwide, with the help of the right distribution. The Red Cross have already expressed interest in the coat according to the New York Times.

It is a true testament to how women use their difficult experiences and triumphs and pass that on to another person in the hope that it will change their life for the better. These are the kind of young women we need more of in our culture. We have enough popstars and celebrities. We have enough elite rich people. What we need is more of the power of everyday humanity.

If the definition of culture is the accumulative actions of a group of people, then we have the power to change our culture by changing our actions and focus.

During these winter months here in the US, spare a thought for those less fortunate than you and I, and also be inspired by people like Veronika who use even the smallest of their opportunities to create a better world for those around them. Watch the video below, and as you start to make your New Years resolutions for 2015, let this be a reminder that each one of us has the power to be a world-changer.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Love In Action: 9 Y/O Girl Makes Toiletry Kits For Homeless Women In Los Angeles - GirlTalkHQ

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