AEO Hosts Successful Forum for Small Business Owners and Government Officials

Washington, D.C. — The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) hosted another successful roundtable connecting Black small business owners with members of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), including William Manger, associate administrator, Office of Capital Access, on Thursday, September 21. Following in the footsteps of a similar event that took place in Baltimore in July, “Inclusive Entrepreneurship: Untapped Opportunities for Success” gave business owners in Washington, D.C., an opportunity to provide insight on topics such as accessing capital, current challenges and the impetus for their entrepreneurship journeys.  

In a report funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and released earlier this year, The Tapestry of Black Business Ownership in America: Untapped Opportunities for Success, AEO calculated that if Black-owned firms were able to reach employment parity with all privately held U.S. firms, 600,000 new jobs could be created and $55 billion would be added to the U.S. economy. The research also found that while White adults have 13 times the wealth that Black adults do, when the median wealth of White and Black business owners is compared, that gap decreases to a multiplier of three. The purpose of Thursday’s roundtable was to see how organizations like AEO and SBA can more effectively support underserved entrepreneurs, increasing their chances for success.

“An important step in creating transformative microbusiness initiatives is hearing from small business owners about what is working and not working for them,” said Connie Evans, AEO president and CEO. “Our roundtables are an important bridge between business owners dealing with the day-to-day realities of entrepreneurship and people who are invested in both strengthening Main Street America and closing the racial wealth gap.” 

Other topics discussed include a lack of trusted guidance and support for small business owners, the need for more skilled workers in the workforce, better access to networking opportunities and more.

Some business owners pointed out a desire for more services and support for microbusinesses overall. “We need to change the mentality around how we view businesses in America,” said attendee Adrian Wilson, a partner at D.C.-based consulting firm Anadria Consulting. “A business of one is still a business.”

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