CBCF Hosts Third Executive Economic Summit in Atlanta, GA


Anne Williams


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF) held its third Executive Economic Summit on November 14, 2016 in Atlanta, GA. The Summit, entitled Black Women Business Leaders and Access to Capital co-hosted by The Coca-Cola Company, focused on strategies and opportunities to expand capital access for minorities, particularly black women.

Attendees connected with a dynamic mix of business leaders from across the country, as well as key members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Georgia State Legislature, the Obama Administration, and others who have been at the forefront of economic policies and federal initiatives to promote capital access for minority-owned firms.

Illustrating the disparity in black women business leaders’ access to capital, CBCF board chairman, R. Donahue Peebles pointed out that women are 50% of the U.S. population but only represent only 5% of federal business contracts. “We are here today to focus on knocking down those barriers,” stated Peebles.

“The racial wealth divide is the single greatest economic issue facing our country.” said CBCF President and CEO A. Shuanise Washington. “We know there is a problem with access to capital for black women entrepreneurs. We also know that to fix it will require a combination of building greater awareness, challenging common misperceptions and implementing the right policies.”
During her keynote address, U.S. Representative Joyce Beatty provided black women business owners with three key takeaways for success: education, entrepreneurship and understanding where you come from. She stressed, black business women must always “plan, prepare and be persistent.”

The first panel discussion focused on federal and state policies advancing minority business growth and opportunity. Financial knowledge and access to information are challenges often faced by black women business owners. U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration senior advisor, September Hargrove, stated that knowing and understanding credit is an important aspect of financial literacy. “Access to capital is not just access to money, but access to information and people,” said U.S. Representative Terri A. Sewell.

During his luncheon address, The Honorable Greg Mathis shared his longtime involvement as a “fierce freedom fighter.” His ties to minority business development span several decades to his days at Rainbow PUSH where he coordinated the first Wall Street Project. “When we fight, we win. We can win this struggle for economic parity and economic justice.”

The Summit included three TED style talks featuring Walkers Legacy founder and CEO, Natalie Madiera Cofield; Nielsen chief diversity officer, Angela Talton; and Code2040 co-founder and CEO, Laura Weidman Powers. Each described their path to success and the experiences that helped them become leaders in their field. In recognizing America’s history of black women owned businesses, Cofield stated, “Every woman has another strong woman leading her to success.”

Afternoon panel discussions focused on women in music and entertainment and building capital access for black women entrepreneurs. Panelists shared their expertise in business development and wealth creation. Business owners should be open to teaming or joint venture advised United States Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency chief, Joann J. Hill. ACT-1 Group founder and CEO, Janice Bryant Howroyd addressed the need for not only financial wealth but building also social wealth, stressing the importance of “personal social capital.”

The Summit provided an intimate platform for business professionals to connect, share experiences and obtain substantive counsel from the nation’s top business leaders and state and federal legislators. A. Shuanise Washington closed out the Summit by reiterating the purpose of the Summit—to develop policy recommendations to advance minority business development and entrepreneurship. The CBCF will gather data obtained during the Executive Economic Summit Series and put forward policy recommendations in the first quarter of 2017.


The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF), established in 1976, is a non-partisan, nonprofit, public policy, research and educational institute, committed to advancing the global black community by developing leaders, informing policy and educating the public.

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