Diverse Chamber Presidents Discuss Small Business Ownership, Credit Readiness
Diverse chamber presidents and Wells Fargo's head of government and community relations, Jon Campbell, recently sat down to discuss a $1.2 million investment to fund training opportunities for diverse-owned small business leaders across the nation.
Javier Palomarez, President and CEO from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Susan Au Allen, President and CEO from the United States Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce; Ron Busby, President and CEO from the United States Black Chamber; and Justin Nelson, Co-founder and President from National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce took part of the teleconference on Monday, Sept. 21, which explored an amplified interest on supporting the diverse small business community.
As a part of an ongoing commitment, Wells Fargo has committed $1.2 million over the span of two years to grow diverse small businesses. According to a Wells Fargo-commissioned study conducted by Gallup, small businesses make up 99 percent of U.S. employer firms, and Asian, African American and Hispanic owners account for 25 percent of all small business owners. Additionally, the study indicated Hispanic-owned businesses were more likely than their counterparts in the general population to be in the start-up phase (18 percent compared to 10 percent).
The Chamber Training Institute (CTI), one part of Wells Fargo's four-point plan, is a program designed in collaboration with the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. Introduced earlier this year, the CTI program trains leaders from diverse chambers to help diverse-owned small businesses access credit, become credit-ready, and achieve financial success. Since 2010, the CTI program has trained more than 820 leaders across 253 chambers. The long-term effect of the training sessions is financial success, growth and job creation in their community. In addition to expanding the CTI program, the Wells Fargo's investment will also fund microgrants to grow local chambers.
According to Campbell, a number of great organizations are coming together for the good of the nation and small businesses. Building across diverse chambers and leveraging the market to increase corporate sponsorship enables success overall diverse small business success. Also, support of small businesses extends beyond training, but also involves credit readiness, credit coaching and investment opportunities.
"The USHCC commends Wells Fargo for their continued investment in minority-owned small businesses, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to enriching diverse communities across America," USHCC President & CEO Javier Palomarez said during the teleconference. "Wells Fargo's support makes it possible for the USHCC Foundation to provide our Chamber Training Institute (CTI), among other programs and grants. CTI is absolutely essential to our local chambers and makes a direct impact in the lives of entrepreneurs across the country. We look forward to growing our strong alliance with Wells Fargo."
Palomarez continued, stating there were 3.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S.; these businesses are growing at a rate three times the national average, and they're expected to grow far more than 40 percent over the next six years. Additionally, the USHCC serves as an umbrella for more than 200 local firms and business associations across the nation and partnered with more than 240 major corporations. To put it as succinctly as Palomarez, "When you support small business, you support community, and when you support community, you support the nation."
When Latin Post inquired about ways to guide young people to important small business resources during the press call, Palomarez responded by saying the CTI program offers training and expertise at the local level, as well as valuable networking skills, which could "afford them the opportunity to better talk about their services, get the word out, communicate and market themselves as resources, and it's a place where people of all ages, not just young people, can inquire about fundamental training, networking ideas and best practices." Also, social media and other technological advances help to make resources more accessible.
The spokespersons from USBC, USPAACC and NGLCC also shared insight, indicating that chambers provide access to mentors and conferences, as well as resources to prepare young people to gain capital and hire additional employees. NGLCC has an initiative for young black men and it has partnered with the University of Phoenix to create an incredible online training program that will launch in January 2016.
"We can talk about all of programs [our chambers offer], but another thing we could talk about is the entrepreneurial path in this country," said Nelson. "Whether it's someone from the LGBT community or anyone from any particular ethnic group, everyone has access to national business advocacy programs and organizations that are full of resources and programs.
"We can now point young people to specific organizations and say, 'here's what you can do' and 'he's who you'll reach out to.' I think in that sense, we've shifted the landscape of what's possible in the mind of the diverse young people coming up in this country. I think that's something that we can all be proud of, and should just talk about it in those terms. Any entrepreneur in this day and age has access to amazing resources to help them succeed. That's an important shift in the way we talk to the community."
According to the experts, it's important that small business leaders develop a business plan, set up finances, become credit-ready, seek support from experts and take advantage of networking and free resources, such as those available through the SBA.gov website.
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