Reaching Underserved Small Businesses: SBA’s Council on Underserved Communities Meets for the First Time - VIDEO
by Marie Johns, Former SBA Deputy Administrator
- Created: August 11, 2011, 9:55 am
- Updated: August 11, 2011, 9:59 am
Earlier this year, we established the Council on Underserved Communities to advise the SBA on ways we can expand our reach into the communities that need our help the most. This includes minorities, women, veterans and young people, as well as rural parts of the country and urban areas. Small businesses in underserved communities are some of the fastest growing businesses in America, but they are also the businesses that need our support the most.
For example, from 2002 to 2007, the number of small businesses owned by African Americans increased 60%. That’s more than triple the rate of businesses overall. Of the nearly 27 million businesses in America, 2 million of them are owned by African Americans. However, those numbers don’t reflect the recent economic downturn, when we know minority businesses were especially hard hit. And, of those 2 million African American small business owners, only a little over 100,000 have employees. The Council is going to help us address discrepancies like that.
The council members, who come from all over the country and represent a variety of backgrounds, spent the summer holding listening sessions in their communities. Last week, they came together for the first time. They had a lot to talk about. I was pleased to meet all of the council members and attend the first meeting at SBA headquarters. The council met for the full day. They discussed the issues that came up in their listening sessions, took comments from the public, and decided what their focus should be going forward. As they meet, four times a year going forward, the council will look at a variety of topics, including increasing access to capital, improving SBA’s outreach, and strengthening accountability to reach federal government goals.
Everyone at the council meeting had a powerful story to tell, but none more so than the council’s chair, Cathy Hughes. Ms. Hughes is the founder and CEO of Radio One and TV One, the largest African American-owned media company in America. She started her business 20 years ago with an SBA loan. At the meeting, Ms. Hughes described how when an economic downturn threatened her business, the SBA helped her restructure her loan, reduce her payments, and get her company back on track.
With support and advice from the Council on Underserved Communities, SBA will help even more businesses like hers in the years to come.
About the Author
Marie Johns is a former Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
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