It's a concept called crowdfunding where a group of people pool their money to support civic projects, disaster relief, and startup companies. Detroit SOUP is doing it successfully, enabling them to give more than $30,000 in micro-grants to Detroit small businesses.
Here's how it works. Detroit SOUP invites the public to join them for soup, bread and salad, and a chance to review project proposals from local small businesses. The cost for the lunch is just $5. At the end of the lunch, the votes are tallied, and the winning business receives the proceeds from the lunch.
Now, $5 may not seem like much per person, but the idea of collecting small funds from many people is paying off in funding start-up projects that will boost the city's economy. In fact, Detroit SOUP has been honored by the White House as one of 12 crowdfunding "Champions of Change." The White House deputy director for technology and innovation, Thomas Kalil, stated regarding the program, "“We can use it to help our neighbors and fellow citizens start a business, enrich our culture, and apply grassroots creativity and imagination to challenges big and small.”
Detroit SOUP was formed three years ago and has been able to help a number of fellow citizens start businesses like a new Detroit travel guide book, bicycle education and safety, and helping school children raise food products to sell at the market.
For more information, visit http://detroitsoup.com/