In the News

Coleman Report - Oct. 29, 2014

8,000 Small Business Loans Apps Declined a Day

By Bob Coleman
Editor, Coleman Report

The State of Microenterprise and Microfinance in the US: Innovations and Opportunities
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Interview with:
Connie Evans
President & CEO
Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)

Bob Coleman: We are talking with Connie Evans, President & CEO, Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) in Malibu, CA at the Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. breakfast on microfinance. Connie I enjoyed your comments, they were great.

Connie Evans: Good morning, thank you so much.

Bob Coleman: What is microfinance?

Connie Evans: Microfinance is a small loan, typically $50,000 and under, to entrepreneurs to start or grow a business. We also talk about microcapital. When we are talking about micro-capital, it's a loan up to $250,000. We are specifically focused on micro businesses, a business with five or fewer employees.

Bob Coleman: I love those definitions, what I appreciate is you are bringing together a wide group of interests to solve this problem. What is the problem?

Connie Evans: Well the problem frankly is, there are 8,000 declines every single day in this country by banks for entrepreneurs that are looking to start or grow a business. That's a real market failure. We think if we were able to close that gap, we think this gap is between $44B-$52B, we would be able to create many more jobs, and good jobs that entrepreneurs would actually be able to create.

Bob Coleman: Create more jobs as wells as increase the economy, good things from that stand point as well.

Connie Evans: Exactly, increase the economy, grow our economy. We also know that helping these entrepreneurs to grow would also mean increasing wealth in these communities. We found through our research at AEO that business owners have two and a half times more wealth than non-business owners, for African American women, it's actually ten times more wealth. For a latino man, five times more wealth, that is real community development. And it's real development for our economy and local communities.

Bob Coleman: And these are through micro finance loans, we are not talking $1m lines of credit.

Connie Evans: No not at all, these are loans from anywhere between $150,000 to $50,000 to $20,000. You know our members are non-profit lenders where they are making loans, but the average loan size tends to be about $14,000. We see across the landscape that an average loan for a micro business is around $20,000 - $25,000. So were not talking about making lots of money available to one business. We are talking the aggregate, helping these businesses get access to capital so they can continue to grow.

Bob Coleman: And this not only benefits the owner, it benefits the employers as well as the community. We see real wage growth when this access to capital is fulfilled.

Connie Evans: If we fix this problem of capital access, we would see an explosion of job creation and job growth. For example, we know through our research that those business owners who are providing wages to employees, those wages are nearly double of minimum wage for the employee. As well as for the actual owner themselves, if you convert their salary, their owners draw, to hourly wage, we're finding again that it's on average higher than minimum wage. So it creates a real opportunity, especially when you look at right now, jobs are being created in low wage areas and high wage areas. This really could be the middle ground for jobs and income in this country.

Bob Coleman: I love how you said it, "The pathway to the middle class."

Connie Evans: Exactly, business ownership can be a pathway to rebuilding our middle class.

Bob Coleman: Last question, what is decline to delight?

Connie Evans: Well, it is the promise of what can happen in this country when we all work together to bring access and availability of capital. Right now a business owner is turned down 8000 times per day in this country. Entrepreneurs seeking business capital that get a decline letter puts a stop to everything. What we would like to see happen is instead of that decline letter, actually being able to get services to those entrepreneurs and put them on a path to capital and turn that decline into delight. We're hoping to make that happen.

Bob Coleman: I love the conversation, Connie Evans, President & CEO, Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) out of Washington D.C.

Connie Evans: Thank you so much.

View the interviews from the State of Microenterprise and Microfinance with AEO + Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. event.

Connie Evans, President & CEO, Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)

Jeff Stibel, Chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.

Mitch Jacobs, Micro Capital Task Force (MCTF) Co-Chair


Black Enterprise - July 11, 2014

  • $52 Billion At Stake: Loan Declines for Small Businesses Hindering Advancement Roughly 8,000 business loan requests are declined every day in America. “Daily business loan denials are symptomatic of a massive market failure,” says Connie Evans, president and CEO of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO). “Our analysis shows it’s a failure to deliver an estimated $44 billion to $52 billion in critical capital to Main Street. Each time business owners are denied requests for capital, it hinders their ability to start, grow or hire,” she adds.

    AEO has forged a plan to unblock the flow of capital to Main Street. AEO recently shared its proposal at a Congressional Briefing, with opening remarks from Senator Maria Cantwell, (D-WA), chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. The goal is to develop more programs that encourage more community lenders to distribute critical financing to small businesses.

Huffington Post - June 27, 2014

  • Microbusiness: Creating a Life That's More Than "a Living" We support job training as a means to re-employ individuals (for those for whom training is accessible, affordable and feasible). However, we point to entrepreneurship as a more promising option to escape the bonds of unemployment. Entrepreneurship, microbusiness in particular, continues to appeal to millions of persons whom the labor market no longer serves.

    Entrepreneurship allows individuals to escape poverty by giving them a vantage point of the economy other than "from the bottom up" -- we should champion it as a means for individuals to realize self-sufficiency and financial autonomy, and to make more than just a living.

The Final Call - November 21, 2013

  • Small Businesses: Bigger than you think, more important than you know Businesses with fewer than 5 employees are called microbusinesses. Since 2002 they have created 5.5 million jobs. While large businesses (500 plus employees) lost jobs between 2009 and 2011, microbusinesses were the only ventures creating jobs during the same period, according to Gina Wood of the Bipartisan Policy Center. She made her comments during the release of a new report by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, “Bigger Than You Think: The Economic Impact of Microbusinesses in the United States.” The report was released Nov. 14 on Capitol Hill and included a discussion of the importance of these businesses.

    “Microbusinesses are the engine of job growth in this economy. They are essential to our economy,” said Ms. Wood. “They are the new normal and we must recognize microbusinesses as part of the solution. They are indispensable to the economy.”

C-Span Video Library - November 20, 2013

  • Small Business Health Care Exchanges Hearing Business owners from around the country and federal officials testified before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on the impact of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act on small business health insurance exchanges.

    Connie Evans, President and CEO of AEO, makes her remarks beginning at the 1:00:46 mark.

Full Capacity Marketing - November 7, 2013

  • Nonprofit & Government Communications: FCM’s 2013 Davey Awards With nearly 4,000 entries from across the U.S. and around the world, the Davey Awards honors the finest creative work from the best small firms, agencies and companies worldwide. "This year’s Davey Award winners truly represent the best small firms worldwide. The work entered into this year's competition embodies a smart, tactful approach to creativity and highlights the capabilities and forward thinking mindset that makes small agencies so unique," said IAVA Executive Director, Linda Day.

    FCM scored three of the five Daveys for the Association of Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) and its One In Three campaign. FCM developed a video about the campaign that won in the categories of Online Film and Video - Charitable/Not-for-Profit, art direction and animated graphics.

Huffington Post - November 6, 2013

  • Micro-Business Is the Backbone of the U.S. President Obama declared November is National Entrepreneurship Month. I want to recognize a special subset of entrepreneurs who may or may not be investing the next big technological advancement, but who are taking risks and are the backbone of our economy -- micro-business owners.

    Very small businesses create the jobs. Period. Firms with one to four employees, known as micro-businesses, are stronger than other sized businesses when it comes to job creation. Yet most, if not all, of our job creation efforts are focused on incentives that help large businesses create jobs.

Canton Rep - September 24, 2013

  • Small businesses primed to drive job growth Helping microbusinesses grow means creating “a new financial system for Main Street,” one in which traditional banks can be partners, she said. For example, Capital One and Citibank are funders of AEO. “Even though banks get a bad rap, banks want customers, right?” Evans said. “They really do want to make their customers happy.”

    AEO has a target of mobilizing $50 million in capital and creating 500,000 jobs. So far, the group has raised $2.5 million for a new capital fund and has disbursed close to $250,000.

    “Again, we have a ways to go,” Evans said.

San Francisco Chronicle - August 11, 2013

  • Microbusiness lenders emphasize job potential Of course, adding jobs is easier said than done. Behind the scenes of the One in Three campaign, small-business advocates are working to craft new funding solutions to make its projections a reality.

    "We want to find a way to make capital and services flow to these Main Street enterprises so they can thrive and grow and hire," Evans said. "What we discovered is that all businesses really need four things: capital, connections, confidence and capacity (the ability to grow and to understand finances). Our work is to make these four things more likely to flow to underserved entrepreneurs."

Palm Beach Post - June 24, 2013

  • Local Small Firms Wary About Hiring Job gains for businesses with fewer than 50 employees edged back into negative territory last year, according to the latest Labor Department figures available. And the National Federation of Independent Business survey in May showed that while optimism reached its second highest point since the recession started, job growth took a turn down after five months of gains.

    Connie Evans, CEO and president of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, said her group has started a One in Three campaign to get small business owners to work with community nonprofit lenders who are more likely to lend to small businesses, especially those with fewer than five employees. The group has several South Florida partners.

Entrepreneur - June 7, 2013

  • Report: Green Business Leads to a Greener Bottom Line Providing eco-friendly and sustainable products and services appears to give small businesses a competitive advantage, according to a new report by Green America, EcoVentures International and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO). Tammy Halevy, Senior Vice President, New Initiatives, Association for Enterprise Opportunity, said: "This survey and report clearly demonstrate that adopting green practices provides even the smallest businesses an opportunity to grow. These insights into what green strategies and practices actually contribute to profitable growth will be invaluable to business owners, and also AEO's growing network of members and partners that provide capital and advisory services across the country."

Read the full press release. The release was also covered in Wall Street JournalFood Navigator USA, Talent Fresh, Black Enterprise, Xperedon Charity News, Phoenix Business Journal, Business Record.

Examiner - March 13, 2013

  • NAACP puts business on the agenda The agenda included business start up basics, understanding financial statements, business marketing and credit and debt management. The host – the NAACP. The program - TILT Forward: Keeping the Dream Alive on Main Street for Micro-businesses – was the first of its kind in Alabama. The conference was a collaboration co-hosted by Florida based, Community Enterprise Investments, Inc. (CEII) and Washington D.C. based, Association of Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), “the voice of micro-enterprise”. The purpose of TILT, according to promotional material, was to “inspire would be entrepreneurs” and “improve business performance or access to capital”. President of AEO, Connie Evans, added to the objectives of the conference commenting that “It boils down to leveling the playing field by giving them (micro-businesses) the access they need and deserve”.

Dallas Morning News - January 31, 2013

St. Louis American - November 29, 2012

  • Lending platform for microbusinesses is launched - Over 160 bankers, small business owners and social service providers recently attended the press conference and launch for TILT Forward, a new online lending platform for microbusinesses at Justine Petersen. Through this platform, Justine Petersen is able to help local microbusinesses to apply for working capital loans of $150,000 and lower. Loans of this size are typically too risky and expensive using traditional purely commercial underwriting approaches. If approved, borrowers can customize their loan package to fit their unique needs. Justine Petersen is introducing the TILT Forward technology locally and statewide in partnership with the One in Three Alliance.

Bloomberg Businessweek - October 9, 2012

  • Surveys: Small biz owners optimistic about future - Survey of small business owners found that 68 percent of the participants expect their companies to do well in the next couple of years. Nearly half said their business is doing well now. The online survey, which questioned 470 owners with 10 employees or less during August, was commissioned by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, the National Association for the Self-Employed and the Small Business Majority, all groups that represent small business owners.

GoGirlFinance - September 21, 2012

  • Resources for Entrepreneurs and Microbusinesses - AEO President & CEO is interviewed. "We need more programs and policies that support getting capital and important business support services to these business owners that allow them to develop, grow, and hire."

Forbes - September 12, 2012

  • Are Senior Start-Ups the Answer? - AEO Board Member Elizabeth Isele, Co-Founder of Senior Entrepreneurship Works and Founder Savvy Seniors Work, talks about the work she is doing to empower seniors to start their own businesses. Elizabeth has been making regular trips to the White House to discuss ways to foster senior entrepreneurship as an economic catalyst and find ways to change policies to support seniors new business start-ups.

Wall Street Journal - September 9, 2012

  • Mini Loans Feed Bigger Ambitions - Wall Street Journal profiles Business Center for New Americans (BCNA) clients Mohammed Diallo and Moustapha Cisse. Microlending is well-established in developing countries like Bangladesh and Mexico. It also is growing in the U.S., the world's largest economy and home to the globe's most sophisticated financial system.

Women's Wear Daily - August 13, 2012

  • Who's Adding Employees and Why? - "No one has to sit this one out. You can hire in your own company or you can support nonprofit lenders and other organic supporters of these (micro)businesses," Evans said. "It's very important to recognize the value of Main Street and microbusinesses to let people know they are counted. The more visibility we bring to this, the better off individual people in communities will be."

BYU TV - August 6, 2012 (Video)

  • Turning Point: Intersect Fund - See the inner workings of Intersect Fund, a small student-run organization that helps small and financially struggling business entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.

Huffington Post - July 4, 2012

  • The Course and Success of the Economy Belongs in All of Our Hands - What if the money stored in our wallets had a new life, a purpose for a short amount of time? If each of us lends as little as $25 to be a part of "crowdfunding" a loan to a small business owner, the funding gap that stunts the growth of the economy and small businesses would begin to be filled.

Huffington Post - July 3, 2012

St. Louis Public Radio - May 10, 2012

NerdWallet - May 9, 2012

PR Newswire - April 30, 2012

Huffington Post - April 6, 2012

Huffington Post - April 5, 2012

  • The Power of Microbusiness to Drive Job Creation Entrepreneurship -- no matter what size the business -- has an enormous impact on the lives and livelihoods in communities coast-to-coast. One business, one loan, or one job can change the trajectory of one family, one community or one city. We believe microbusiness has the power to change the entire country.

CNN (TV) - December 19, 2011

CNN Money - October 13, 2011

  • For women, by women. AEO member WESST's incubator helping women start their own businesses featured.

Washington Post - September 19, 2011

The Sun News (South Carolina) - July 5, 2011

UnConflicted SC - June 13, 2011

Cooperative Federal - June 10, 2011

It's Your Biz - June 7, 2011

PR Newswire - White House Meets with Visionaries for new Economic Design for U.S. Recovery - June 2, 2011

AEO Commentary on Muhammad Yunus

The State: South Carolina's Homepage - May 25, 2011

Midlands Connect (Fox) - May 25, 2011

Business News Daily - May 3, 2011

Oregon Live - February 22, 2011

Sign on San Diego - February 22, 2011

New York Times - February 17, 2011

The Nation - February 16, 2011

Washington Post - February 16, 2011

Bloomberg Television - November 29, 2010

San Francisco Chronicle – November 9, 2010

LA Times - November 8, 2010

Dallas Morning News - November 4, 2010

American Banker - June 14, 2010

Chicago - March 29, 2010