Economic Empowerment and Workforce
CBCF Convened Second Executive Economic Summit in Berkeley, CAMay 9, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF) convened its second Executive Economic Summit on May 6, 2016, in Berkeley, CA. The Summit on Capital Wealth Creation in Business and Technology brought together business leaders, policymakers, venture capitalists and senior members of the Obama Administration to identify and outline a set of actions for closing the racial wealth gap in Silicon Valley and across the nation.
The Summit, second in the CBCF series, focused on the national dialogue about the deeply entrenched problems faced by minority-owned businesses. The Summit highlighted the lack of access to capital, networks and technology as contributing factors that have historically and disproportionately affected African-American owned firms and business enterprises.
“Technology has revolutionized our lives and African Americans have been treated as an afterthought for far too long,” said U.S. Representative Barbara Lee. “Inclusion is no longer optional for companies that want to drive innovation across the board.”
“A lack of access to capital is one of the most important issues facing minority-owned businesses in today’s marketplace,” said CBCF President and CEO A. Shuanise Washington. “What we need is a commitment to diversity and inclusion from the top down. Both are critical to an organization’s growth, success and ability to drive innovation.”
U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke added that closing the racial wealth inequality gap in business and technology is a priority for national economic security. “My role is to create corridors for entrepreneurs to find investors. We have to create those opportunities because it’s not organic for our communities,” she noted.
The day-long Summit expanded upon the success of the inaugural Summit, held last year in New York City. This year, the CBCF board chairman, R. Donahue Peebles specified that “our commodity is our political power. We need to use our commodity to produce better results.”
The TED-style talks and panel discussions on capital expansion, strategic partnerships and identifying resources provided recommended policy changes in order to create an inclusive and equitable roadmap. Aisha Bowe, CEO and Co-Founder of STEMBoard, LLC addressed the need for inclusive government contracting opportunities for African-American women, pointing out that, “Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S.”
Dr. Anita Ward, executive vice president for Operation Hope, reinforced the need for access to capital as a determining factor in the success of African-American women entrepreneurs. To make her point, Dr. Ward noted that “fewer than 15% of all patents issued in the U.S. are given to women.” Erik Moore, founder and managing partner of Base Ventures, addressed the pervasive lack of diversity in the technology industry and explained that part of his mission was to ensure that both women and minority-owned companies make up a significant part of the Base Ventures portfolio.
In addition to lack of access to capital, minorities have historically lacked access to industry leaders and experts. The CBCF was privileged to provide an informal mechanism to connect a diverse group of attendees who likely would not, otherwise, have had an opportunity to meet. Attendees created and became parts of fluid “social circles” gaining and sharing expertise, strategizing and determining how to partner.
A. Shuanise Washington closed out the Summit by stressing the importance of working together to build a smarter approach to growth that taps the potential of minority-owned businesses in technology. “Today’s conversation proves the access mechanisms are not different. Our mission is to create game-changing opportunities for African-American entrepreneurs. The CBCF is committed to action.”
ABOUT THE CBCF:
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF), established in 1976, is a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy, research and educational institute intended to broaden and elevate the influence of African Americans in the political, legislative and public policy arenas. You can learn more about the CBCF at www.cbcfinc.org. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and subscribe to our monthly newsletter for the latest CBCF news and resources.