Karen Leone de Nie: Hello, my name is Karen Leone de Nie and I'm with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. I am the Community and Economic Development programs officer here, and it's a real pleasure to have you join us today, so thanks for being here. My job today is actually to introduce the series and why we're doing the work that we've been doing around inclusive and resilient recovery. And so, I want to talk a little bit about this and share just some reflections that I'm sure all of us on this call have been thinking about over the last year, in particular.

So, we launched the program last year and we did it because we wanted to play a role in helping to connect people, resources, data, and research. I think we all know that the pandemic has spotlighted and exacerbated existing disparities, and various indicators that you can look at show how people of color have been impacted, whether it's the number of people who have contracted COVID, the job losses that we have seen, the housing stability, and today's topic, how small businesses, particularly small businesses owned by people of color, have been challenged during this time.

And so, hard work has been happening all over the country to try to address these disparities. And we want to be part of that work. And this series was really created because I—along with colleagues here at the Atlanta Fed—have seen that we can play a role in helping to connect the dots in a recovery. And we do this because we recognize several things, that we want to make sure these messages get heard across the country.

And one is that exclusion hurts the economy. And so, through this initiative, we want to bring together our own research along with experts from all over the country to demonstrate the cost of economic exclusion. We also know that recovery strategies can be intentionally designed to reduce disparities. And so, we aim to spotlight strategies, policies, and programs that can reduce disparate racial impacts and improve a recovery. And then finally, we know that a better future is possible. This has been a long and difficult year, but there's so much hope in what the future can hold. And we recognize that by understanding the root causes of existing disparities, we can help design strategies to eliminate them to achieve an equitable, inclusive recovery focused on closing racial disparities and outcomes.

There's a web page where you can view the earlier sessions and the related resources. And we invite you to reach out to us with questions and ideas. This series, along with all we do, is aimed at helping you to improve the economy and to improve equity and make sure that our economy really does work for everyone. And so, please do reach out to us and let us know how we can help. So, let me talk a little bit more about this particular session.

So today, we're here to talk about small businesses of color and a new resource that was coproduced by the Federal Reserve Banks of Kansas City and Atlanta. It's called the Small Businesses of Color Recovery Guide. And I want to thank our colleagues in Kansas City for bringing up this idea and working with us so hard to produce this important work. So, before we actually launch into the discussion today, I have the pleasure of introducing the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Esther George. And she's going to tell you more about why we're doing this work.

Esther George: It is my pleasure to welcome you to today's webinar. To all of the small business owners participating in this program, I want to recognize and commend you for your innovation and your resilience during a most difficult year, as you continued to serve your customers in the face of unprecedented conditions. Small businesses are particularly important contributors to economic growth. They serve as both the catalyst and the backbone for sustained growth in a community, as drivers of competition, providers of valued goods and services, and employers for individuals at the local level. Taken together, small businesses represent an essential engine of growth for the nation as a whole. Last year, an economic crisis unfolded as public health authorities responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in considerable stress for small businesses. At the outset of the pandemic, minority-owned small businesses were particularly hard hit, with higher closure rates and sharper declines in cash balances then their nonminority peers.

A year later, with increasing vaccination rates and improving health data, many business owners can now begin to shift their focus from survival to recovery prospects, ensuring that minority-owned small businesses, which suffered disproportionately during the pandemic, are positioned to contribute to a broad-based recovery will be important. Their communities also will be looking to them to restore vitality at the local level, something that many of us have missed during this long year of lockdowns and other safety precautions. To assist in this effort, the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Kansas City have joined efforts to create the Small Business Owners of Color Recovery Guide, designed to help communities support the recovery of these important businesses. We hope today's program provides you not only with information on the challenges that small businesses of color are facing, but also offers approaches to assist your community in supporting these businesses as we emerge from crisis to recovery. Thank you for joining us today, as we all aim toward an inclusive and resilient economy.

Janelle Williams: We would now like to focus our attention on sharing some recently analyzed data on the state of small businesses across the country. The Small Business Credit Survey has been administered nationally since 2016, through a collaboration of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks.

The Small Business Credit Survey was launched to provide timely insights on small business conditions to policymakers, practitioners, service providers, and lenders. The report findings provide an in-depth look at small business performance, debt holdings, and credit experiences, complementing national data on lending volumes and lender perceptions. Annually, we receive responses from all 50 states with the help of over 350 partner organizations across the country who help disseminate the survey to their small business contacts. The 2020 survey was administered from September to October, gathering responses from more than 15,000 small businesses.

Ninety-six hundred of these responses came from employer firms, while 4,500 responses came from nonemployer firms. The survey found that while emergency funding, especially PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] loans, was widely assessed at employer firms, approval rates on PPP and other financing applications were lower for small businesses of color. This slide shows the approval rates for firms that received all financing sought. And you will note that the approval rate was significantly lower for Black-, Latinx-, and Asian-owned firms.

The next slide also gives an assessment of the financial conditions of these firms at the time of the survey. And again, there is a significant emphasis on financial conditions of firms that were Asian-owned, Black-owned, and Hispanic-owned firms, where they've experienced fair or poor conditions at the time of the survey. We also wanted to spend some time getting feedback from small business owners on the expected challenges resulting from this pandemic over the next 12 months. And the next slide demonstrates that these firms experience and anticipate the challenges related to demand for products and services, government mandates and restrictions or closures, and the availability of credit.

You will note that the demand for products and services is the top expected challenge among Asian-owned firms, while for Black-owned firms, credit availability is the primary concern. I'm now going to pass it over to my colleague, Dell Gines, from Kansas City Fed, and he is going to share information on recommendations from the Small Business Credit Survey and some unique recommendations to support small businesses of color and what it means to strengthen their ecosystems, and specific emphasis on practitioner, policy, and investment recommendations. Thank you, Dell.

Dell Gines: Thanks, Janelle. You can go ahead and advance to the next slide. We'll get started there. So, first of all, I would like to welcome you to the webinar, as my colleagues have. I'm Dell Gines, senior Community Development adviser for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Delightful to work with the Atlanta Fed on producing this guide. And I think it's an important guide because of the way that we actually pull the information together. It's a combination of insight and outreach. We did significant outreach during the pandemic. I myself called every diverse chamber in our region asking them what their challenges were, as well as some of my colleagues. Atlanta did the same. And then we did a long-form questionnaire with national and local leaders that work with communities of color and small businesses to kind of get insight to put the guide together.

And so, we're going to talk about that today, and really briefly, because I encourage you to go read the report. I can't unpack everything in a period of time, but what I really want to do is share some framework with you because when you get to the panel, you've got a great panel. They're going to amplify a lot of this work. So, we did our pre-speaker conversation and they were just phenomenal with their insights into the topics. So, I'm going to leave some of that heavy lifting to them. But what I do want to tackle first and foremost is this concept of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Now, I've been working on entrepreneurship ecosystem work for the Fed for 10 years, so a decade, and this is when it was really starting. But I think what we need to understand is that we need to look at a system's view in terms of how we support inclusivity in an entrepreneurial space.

And one way to get to it is by focusing on the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which really is the connectivity between all the components, including things like the skill set that your entrepreneurs have, the access to financing, the relationships and the networking, the culture, the infrastructure, and the policy. All of these are where entrepreneurs exist, and they influence or detract from what is happening with the entrepreneurs within your given community. And we need to pay particular attention when it comes to communities of color, because these things interact differently. And there's a particular way that we have to analyze and view the lived experiences of our diverse entrepreneurs, because they often experience the ecosystem differently than nonminority participants.

So, I want to go ahead and just leave it there and create that as just a simple framework for you to consider as we go to the next slide. So, there is no silver bullet for this. There is not one single solution that is going to fix all the problems. One of the challenges is we tend to get overreliant on the concept of access to credit and capitalism, that's going to save everything. It will not. In actuality, we need to look at the context in which our entrepreneurs are starting their businesses. Again, the ecosystem. And we need to listen and learn their experiences and hear what they are trying to say and what they are trying to do to be able to help mobilize them to go to scale and overcome some of the barriers that they're going to face. And so, each strategy must be tailored to your own unique community. Doesn't mean that you can't do what we call boundary scanning and kind of look around at other communities and say, that's pretty dope. Let's try this. Let's bring it over here and try it in our community. Absolutely can, and I encourage you to do that.

But you have to understand that your community is your community and what your community is going to face and how they're going to overcome particular challenges is going to be unique to your community. And again, one program alone is not going to be able to accomplish the things that you want to accomplish. So, you need to be really intuitive in terms of listening to the people that are in your community, from your practitioners to your economic developers to your small businesses themselves, put them at the forefront. To your educational institutions, and you need to be able to come together and create a cogent solution to these challenges that our diverse entrepreneurs are facing and particular entrepreneurs are in general.

Now, that doesn't mean to say that you can't be at an entry point into one particular area of focus with the intention of spending out more broadly, because there's an old African proverb that says, How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So, you can't try to boil the ocean, which is another saying, when you go into it. But what you can do is be very strategic by utilizing one specific area of focus when you start your change management system, in terms of improving the ecosystem for your diverse entrepreneurs, but you have to do it with the intention of expanding it more broadly across all of these dimensions.

Next slide. So, I'm going to talk a little bit now about the big buckets that we put together, and by no means is this comprehensive. But what we did when we compiled all of this information that we did to put together in this guide, we kind of started going through it and filtering it out and kind of looking, where were the big conversations being had in our outreach calls with our providers, with what we'd known through the research. And they really came down to five big bucket areas, which were capital and credit, which, of course, that may have been intuitive for you, right? Because we talk about it all the time. Issues of policy. Issues of providers and provider support, education and training, and then the role of the community in addressing some of these challenges to help our small business owners of color recover.

And I would be remiss to point this out. To me, recovery may not be the best term, because as most research indicates and Janelle kind of pointed out a little bit, that some of our communities of color, entrepreneurs, and small business owners were significantly challenged prior to the pandemic. Let me just riff for a second and give you one example. So, in talking to the Black Chamber of Colorado, the Colorado Black chamber head, I was talking to her and we were doing an outreach call. And I said, "Well, tell me, what do you think?" This is mid-pandemic. She said, "What do you think is going on?" She said, "Dell, I need to be honest with you. Is it a challenge? Is it an accelerated challenge? Is it a huge issue that we're facing? Absolutely. But let me be honest with you. This is something that our Black entrepreneurs have been facing to a lesser degree all along."

So, when we say recovery, we don't just want to recover. We want to go to the next level. We want to create inclusivity. We want to create equity. We want to create a balance of opportunity. We want to allow every entrepreneur that is in our community to be free flourishing and have equitable access to the resources necessary to start to build firms across the dimensions in which they so choose, because that's what empowers your community's economy, the national economy. And that also is what truly creates inclusivity and equity within a given community. Next slide.

So, when we start talking about issues of capital and credit, and again, these are not universal solutions. These are the ones that we kind of distilled down. There will be a necessity of you creating solutions specific to your own community, while others of us work at the regional and national level, which, of course, you can feel free to inform us on what you think to be done at that level as well. But two of the big things that came out and you may have guessed that from the PPP loans, the EID [Economic Injury Disaster] loans, the stimulus loans, is that the importance of developing low- and no-cost and deferred credit and capital facilities.

So, one of the powers of PPP was it had a forgivable process. The EID loans were a low-cost, low-interest-rate loans process. And so, what we're really talking about as we work to the recovery is can we develop local solutions, statewide solutions, regional solutions, even potentially national solutions that figure out ways to reduce the cost of debt, or to figure out ways to get additional lower-cost capital into the hands of diverse entrepreneurs, so that they continue to restart because we're going to have a lot of restarts. New starts.

I don't know if you've been following any of the news, but the start-up rate of businesses has actually been accelerating probably in large part because of what happened to the labor market with people getting laid off and trying to do something new. So, we're going to have a lot of new people starting, right? But how do we reduce the cost of capital, the cost of debt, so that individuals can access it and utilize it to scale up their firms without putting their companies in a challenging position because their monthly loan payment or the amount of debt that they have to accrue? Because we know coming out of this, that while the economy hasn't hit every industry equally as hard, that a lot of the community, the entrepreneurs of color, the industries that they were in were. And so, adding additional levels of debt service may be a challenge. So, we want to reduce that cost, right? And then there's the issue of developing flexible underwriting standards.

Now, we know that banks are regulated, so this may be a challenge for them, but we have things like CDFIs [community development financial institutions], fintechs [financial technologies], and other support mechanisms, local community loans that may be able to be a little more flexible, which allows banks, in many instances, to potentially de-risk the lending by having somebody put a gap loan or other kinds of loans in place. And a lot of times what we're facing, because as a general analysis of the data, entrepreneurs from communities of color or individuals from communities of color tend to have lower, on average, credit scores and less assets, which make it a little bit more challenging for them to get traditional debt. And so how do we develop flexible underwriting mechanisms by which we can look at alternative views of underwriting that still are safe and sound practices, but can you get the capital in the hands of our diverse entrepreneurs without immediately saying no? Next slide.

And so, when we move forward into the education and the training program, I think this is an area where we significantly have to do a better job across the nation. We do have some great programs, but the scale of programs, the diversity of programs, how we're serving individuals within these programs is very important. And I personally feel that needs to be scaled up significantly, especially as it comes to our small business owners of color. So how do we first approach this? Some of the recommendations were to scale up existing programs. Many of our communities have great programs. You're going to hear from some on the panel coming up. How do we scale them up? Specifically, are we enhancing technology training? We know that communities, well, we've heard a lot of conversation, I shouldn't say we know. That's a little bit too deep. But we know from a lot of conversations that companies that were tech enabled or were able to pivot utilizing technology trended to have better outcomes.

So how are we increasing technology training for our small business owners of color? Are we looking at the ways that they can leverage things like social media, new low-cost technology to improve performance, utilizing different technology to accelerate their ability to deliver products and services out to the community? And then finally, and I would almost say is important as any of the other things that we've talked about in this bucket is they ensure training is both available and accessible. And they're two very different things. So, availability means that it's present and an individual can find it and potentially go to it. Accessible means that they actually have the ability to get through it in a reasonable way. For example, if all of our small business training program is during the day, and we know that the majority of Black women—I wrote a report on that so I'm very familiar with it—have part-time businesses and are working a full-time job, then the likelihood of that program being accessible, even though it is available, is very low.

Which again goes back to the concept of, we need to listen to our diverse entrepreneurs and understand their needs and design solutions to fit their particular challenges. Next slide. So, the issue of policy, and we didn't go all over the place with this policy, we kind of narrowed it down to issues of procurement, especially government and corporate procurement, because this is critical. There's a huge amount of spin that goes through governments, state, local corporations every year. And so how do we work to improve government procurement policies so that more diverse firms of color can help access these contracts as they try to overcome the issues of the pandemic and ultimately scale up. And this means really being critically self-reflective as institutions on how these policies are written, how they create governance mechanisms and gatekeepers, and how we can make them more inclusive. The second policy recommendation is the use of subsidies to support small business owners of color.

I'm sure almost everybody out there has heard that when Amazon was trying to move their headquarters, the amount of subsidies that various communities were willing to give them to have them come. There's an old saying from a mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, that said, "When it comes to big companies, our communities roll out the red carpet. When it comes to our communities, we roll out the red tape." So we need to apply that same red carpet mentality to our small business owners of color and look at the various ways that we can use subsidies such as tax abatement policies, other factors like grants or convertible notes, and different other mechanisms by which we can reduce the cost of doing business, relocating or scaling through our economic development policy. And then finally the improvement of place-based policies such as business improvement districts and things of similar nature, where we kind of look at where our communities of color are, who's starting businesses within them, and kind of focus on that area through various policies that kind of accelerate the business climate in a very dedicated area within a particular community. Next slide.

And this is just a slide, and I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this because I got three minutes left and I want to get to this and get to our panel. So, when we look at the most frequently cited contracting barriers, this is just a great guide from various sources that kind of pull this together and say, these are the barriers that we're facing. It's not just barriers in terms of the bid process, but looking at how prime contractors are done, access to capital network, the agency barriers, all of these different things. So I encourage you to take a look at the guide and look at this in particular in the links that we have to diverse procurement and kind of look at your government, local governments programs, your local corporations programs, and see, are we creating these barriers?

Can we mitigate these barriers? Can we lower them so that our small business owners of color can have greater access, greater support, and ultimately greater scalability during the recovery? Next slide. The community. All right. Now, I'm going to get on my soapbox, born and raised, I still live in the Black community here in Omaha. And we have historically one of the highest poverty rates for African American communities out there. And when we tend to go out for social action, because I'm kind of an old-school community guy, and I still do a lot of work in the community outside of my work at the Fed, one of the things that I always encourage individuals who are doing this kind of work and who are trying to improve is to first start with what your local community can do. Set your agenda, set your priorities, see what you can do with the energy that's at the local level.

Use that as a rallying point and as an anchor to the things that you want to achieve outside of that in, let's say, the policy arena or some of the credit and capital, the other factors that we have. Because what's very important is things that trend to move the needle, if you go back and you analyze history are organized communities that have a strategic agenda on how they want to create transformative change. Now, this can be change by influencing other institutions, or it can be organizing ourselves to create certain things, certain social narratives, certain cultural mores and concepts that we say, these are what we're going to live by to mobilize our situation or to make our situation better. And I submit to you that this is the same when it comes to our communities of color and the recovery. That one of the focal points that should be ours is to really look at how we can buy local campaigns to actually focus on small businesses of color.

This is a way to create equity through marketplace activities by simply encouraging those within a given community to shop where they live or within their general city, but focus it in this particular scenario, you can absolutely focus it on other areas, but focus it on this scenario for small business owners of color, because we know they've been disproportionately impacted and that the scalability of these firms is going to drive economic growth in the city. Really important to improve the local environment where small business owners of color live and often start their businesses. We tend to of my pet peeves is we kind of look at people as data points, right? So, we'll look at a data point and we'll say, well, on average, Black women achieve 40 percent less of the funding that they request than other women, right?

Without realizing that that Black woman that's a business owner also is living in a community. She's raising a family, she's managing a household, and she lives in an environment in the community. And all of these things influence and either detract or support her capacity to start and scale a firm to do all of those other things that she has within her life. And so we also need to recenter community in these conversations and look at how is this local environment in which our small businesses of colors live, work, and play, supporting them to become better business owners, to help them recover, to help them scale up and become better than what they were pre-pandemic. So, we're talking about things like streetscapes, greenscapes, walkability, the general environment that says in our community here, we support small businesses. With thought improvement, pavement, fixing potholes, little things like that.

So we need to look at the quality of life factors, the communal factors, the things that when we walk out the door of our house we're going to make us feel good about our community and enhance our ability to move forward and also do some of these other things. And then cocreate. The concept of cocreation with your small business owners of color clear COVID-19 recovery plan. Top-down stuff does not work anymore. I'm just going to flat out say it from my perspective. Going from the top down and having very few people making these decisions for the many is an old strategy that is proven not to be that successful. We need to embed these decisions back in the community like we did with this guide. We went out to everybody and we listened to what they had to say to the degree possible and then cocreated this guide with their input to offer it out to you.

And I encourage you that are leaders in your community to do the same. Have focus groups, have coffees, have conversations, have community engagement meetings, listen to what people are saying that they need in the recovery. And then cocreate a solution that's tailored to fit your community. And then the last slide. So, the providers. Now, in all of this, those were really focused on supporting your small business owners of color, but we have to support the providers. We cannot leave them out of the equation. We cannot starve them from a capital source and think that they can solve the problems that we have in front of us to help our communities recover. So, two big recommendations are improve foundation, corporate, and government support for local inclusive organizations and support providers, the creation of new funding mechanisms that support organizations that serve our small business owners of color using a combination of sources: government, philanthropic, and bank support.

There's been a historical trend of our foundations and other support organizations not to fund organizations that support small business owners. And there's reasons why, some of them are technical, but there's also ways that they can. And so I would encourage a lot of our philanthropic communities once we kind of get to a stable place where they're not really heavily serving kind of these real physical needs like food and other factors that are really impacting communities of color during the pandemic, but really taking a look and say, if I really want to help a community of color grow in scale, I need to help their small business owners scale because that's how you produce economic growth and reduce poverty in a major way. And then I want to, in my particular presentation and give five minutes to the panel, because like I said, they're super-awesome. This last slide I want to talk about is a new project that we're working on and a new training program, which is the Recovery Community Pilot.

And this is a training program that I designed after designing multiple programs in the community economic development space and the ecosystem building space. And we're going to pilot it with five communities first, which are going to be local within our two communities, our two Fed Bank regions. And this is what I call a mini-ecosystem building model. You heard me start with ecosystem building, I'm going to end with ecosystem building. Kind of this holistic look at how we move all of these factors and build up all of these factors within our community in a specific way. And this training program, we're going to open it up to communities. First, within the District with a target of five. Depending on how the pilot goes, we would truly like to scale it out and see if we can move it toward other banks and across the nation. But the objective of this it to use a concept called strategic doing, which is a rapid action way of getting into collaborative action across the community. Communities at minimum are going to need four unique organizations that are willing to work collaboratively together.

We target the training model to kind of create what is called a 30-day sprint or 30 for 30 tackling. What's known as the big easy, a targeted solution. And then we manage it over time so that the community can scale. So, this has been used in Flint [Michigan] and is currently being used in Flint to address some of the challenges there. It's been used in Oklahoma City to start and scale their big MAPS project for those of you there, and it's been used in Africa and it's been used all across the world. And what I did was I kind of tweaked it for the ecosystem model and for the purposes of our community. So now we are not taking local applications now, but what I did want to do is put that on your radar as we go forward, because those of you who have registered, we will keep your emails on the list.

And once we complete the pilot phase, we will open it back up for the potential of others, contingent upon how that pilot goes. So, I want to close here, but I do want to say this before I close and give my extra three-plus minutes to the panel. Look, I understand that this is a very challenging time for all of us. And I understand that a lot of us have been hit very hard, both from a public health standpoint and an economic standpoint. But I want to tell you personally, and from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City perspective, we appreciate all the work that you're doing, everything that you've done to continue to move on, everything that you've done to make it better, because together we can overcome this and we can make it better than it was pre-pandemic. I truly believe that. And so, with that, I'm going to turn it back over to Janelle. And you are going to love this panel, I promise you that.

Williams: Thank you so much, Dell. So, we spend a lot of time sharing data with you, offering recommendations for what we think are key aspects to consider as we strengthen the small business of color ecosystem, and we work to see more equitable outcomes for small businesses of color. But a lot of that work really sits in a place that can be considered very heavy. And for us, we are really excited to have a panel today that represents entrepreneurs, practitioners, impact investors, to really weave this conversation and move us from theory to practice. What it looks like on the ground.

So I'm delighted today that we are joined by Samí Haiman-Marrero, president and CEO of Urbander, Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon, CEO and founder of the Village Market in Atlanta, and James Wahls, portfolio manager of social investments at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Thank you so much, panelists, for being here with us today. We're so excited that you agreed to join and welcome to this very important conversation. So, to kick it off, would love to get your thoughts on...a lot has been shared, and you've experienced a lot within these past 12 months, working in your own respective businesses, with grantees, and with other small businesses. What's your immediate takeaway that we should consider to actively support communities, small businesses that you're serving in response to COVID?

Samí Haiman-Marrero: I'll start. Hi everyone. I'm Samí Haiman-Marrero. I'm calling in from Orlando, Florida. And I just want to start by saying that I lost my job in 2008, and that's why I started my business. So, for all those business owners that are experiencing the same thing, I just want to say, you're going to be all right. You're reaching out and you're finding the resources you need to get the support that you need, and that's great. I didn't have that 13 years ago. But I have to say that I think that was the most difficult thing was navigating the ecosystem and trying to find help to do this. Because with all the years' experience I had in the corporate sector, it's just not the same thing when you're starting your own business.

And I feel like one of the things that I encourage everyone to do is to understand that entrepreneurship and activism aren't mutually exclusive, and that as you begin or try to build your business again, or if you're engaging with others to really invest time in three areas. It's to building relationships or your social capital, building your reputation, because I think that's what helped us also in these last 13 years that we invested heavily on breaking bread with people of all backgrounds, gender identities, age groups, experiences from a business and also government, and everybody we could talk to. And last but not least, build respect. Not only demand it but also demonstrate it. Because I just feel that that is what really helped us position ourselves in a way here in central Florida that we can not only sustain the hit of the pandemic, but then help others, too.

And so, we've been so blessed, but I feel like the most rewarding thing for us has been able to be that peer, right? That people feel that they can call and we can help them navigate this uncertainty, because we've been there. And so that I feel was the big aha moment, is like, oh my goodness, I'm so glad that we're in a position that we can alleviate that gap of learning for a lot of new BIPOC [Black, indigenous, and people of color] entrepreneurs that are starting just now, or people that have lost their jobs are transitioning into entrepreneurship as an option.

Williams: Thank you, Samí. James, Dr. Key, any reflection?

James Wahls: Sure. I'll going to go next. So, I'm going to speak from my funder and impact investment perspective. And for me, one of the key takeaways I saw was institutional private philanthropy has an outsized influence in its communities began as actual dollars. It can use its power to help uplift community need and support, more equitable responses. For example, in Baltimore, Casey and other funders were critical partners for the local public responses to support entrepreneurs dealing with pandemic through the Baltimore Small Business Support Fund. One thing I wanted to note, though, this work, again, highlighted the historic underfunding of the small business ecosystems and communities around the country.

Dell touched upon this. I know Dr. Key probably will touch upon this as well. But as we did this work, it made it clear about the disparities that entrepreneurs are facing when they try to navigate this ecosystem. And I will actually push a little further onto Dell's point is that sometimes the low-class debt PRI [program-related investing] financing is not always optimal for short-term ecosystem recovery. So, I think philanthropy needs to think more about how it uses its grant dollars beyond just the traditional impact investment strategies to really supply dollars, especially in communities that right now are going to have a higher burden of the debt.

Williams: Thank you, James. Dr. Key?

Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon: Yes. What I've found the last several months now that has felt like five years was the historic lack of support. It's still just as prevalent for Black and Brown entrepreneurs. I believe one of the hopes that entrepreneurs, especially in the Village had in March [2020], was by May support would come and that support would be fair, equitable, and that the barriers that they've experienced, we've experienced for years, at this moment of time in a global heartbreak, global pain, that there would be a human connection and policies will be addressed based on the humanism of where we all are. So, what we found this year, last year, especially through the first round of PPP, is those inequities are still there.

Now, what we've done, though, and what we've done for years as a community, and we're going to speak a little on resiliency, businesses have been able to survive. Those who've been able to survive, the survival hasn't come due to governmental support. It has come through organizations like mine, leaders such as those on this call today decided to say, "This is my community. We take shared ownership in each other's resilience." So, I'm hoping today, and for all of those who are listening, that that is such a beautiful thing to share, but why do we always have to refer and defer only on us? And so what I'm hoping comes out of this is when we're thinking about tangible solutions, we think about those implicit biases, those inherent prejudices of what we have for Black and Brown businesses, and think of when we walk into conversations, walking with our human hat and thinking about connection and the advancement of all of us, because the achievement of Black and Brown businesses, if a Black business survives and thrives, if a Brown business survives and thrives, it's like air. Everybody benefits. We all breathe that change. That's why I'm hoping that we can really delve deep into today and have a real conversation about this thing and to think about policy, but to think about people.

Williams: Thank you, and those are some powerful charges that we've heard from each of our panelists to kick off this conversation. So, I really want to start with you, Samí, around the work that you're doing. One is, I'm going to combine this into two separate questions. But why do you think it's important for entrepreneurs of color to reject this scarcity frame? And how do you think this relates to the lack of luxury or the lack of privilege around discovery? And so, would love for you to share your reflections you've seen as an entrepreneur, working with other entrepreneurs of color navigating these issues.

Haiman-Marrero: Yes, that's a very important question to ponder on because Black and Brown entrepreneurs normally, or usually, are fighting for the cookie crumbs. Those contracts that we are presented with, or RFPs [request for proposals], are so few and between, or those opportunities to bid for a contract, that we tend to hoard and say, "Oh, this is for me, I need to do this," and "Oh my, goodness, this one opportunity." And so, we're so focused on fighting or competing, not fighting, competing, for these very scarce opportunities when, if we come from a place of sharing and abundance, we can actually amplify our bandwidth and shoot for more. And so, I'll give you an example, before when I mentioned about developing relationships, respect, and reputation, that's a big part of the investment we've done. Not on marketing and all of that, and we do marketing, but we haven't invested much on our own marketing, it's really developing, breaking bread with people and really knowing what you do.

And is there going to be overlap? Absolutely. But during this past year, we've been able to continue to engage and actually develop bigger, and pitch for bigger opportunities, and it sounds crazy. It's like, "Oh, my goodness, should we go for that contract?" I'm like, "If we band together, I know you do design and I do design, too, but let's just behind the scenes figure out who's going to do what and let's just go for the big pie." So currently, we engage with six other businesses of color, web design, content development, it's so awesome, and in the last year, every call that we're on with a prospect, we go big.

It's funny because my colleagues, when we get on a call, part of our Urbander team, they already know that when we get it asked, "Oh, are you able to do XYZ?" They already know the cue word, when I say, "Absolutely," they know she has no idea. We don't do that, but I've already developed enough bonds and I know the reputation of my peers in my community. And I love that idea of going local, that I know who to call to make it happen. And then since that investment and that relationship's already there and that respect, it's turnkey. It just takes a call. "Hey, I think we have a..." You know? And so, I just feel that by modeling this type of behavior of sharing, there's enough for everyone that we can really create bandwidth and really leverage our strengths and also break down the silos between the Black and Brown communities. And so, in terms of the luxury of discovery, yes, we're never afforded the luxury of discovery and experimenting and trying products and services before going out to market, because we need to put food on the table and that's our reality. We need to survive, and so I think that's really key here.

Williams: Thank you, Samí. James, I want to revisit something you said earlier around the role of impact investing and how impact investing really should be braided with grant dollars to really think about intentionally injecting equity into these businesses and afford opportunities for some of the things we're hearing from Samí, the opportunity for discovery and experimentation. I'd love to get your assessment on how do you think a restorative philanthropic lens can be applied to impact investing, because they somewhat fall into these silo conversations, grant making and impact investing. How do you think we could really create more dynamic, innovative tools in the impact investing toolbox that is relevant and responsive to small businesses of color that continue to see these persistent disparities?

Wahls: Well, as an impact investor or someone who represents an impact investor, as I refer to throughout this presentation, for me, strong grant-making strategies is the best risk mitigant for my impact investing. So, I think they're one and the same. A lot of times you might say, or you might hear people say that it's MRI, PRI, so mission-related investing, program-related investing, guarantees, loan loss reserves, and then there's this gap, pause, and then they say grant making. And so, for me, it's all of the exact same spectrum as I think of impact investment. So that's the first thing. That's one way that you can start to cultivate a more restorative impact investment program.

The second thing is you have to know what the community desires. The best way to know what the community desires is through philanthropic grant-making strategies for private foundations, for private foundations that are focused and have place-based strategies, that's where you get your information from, along with working with partners such as the Federal Reserve and others. It's really critical for you to have a historical understanding of what's happening within that community before you can start thinking about what's the right impact investment strategy to use. For me, as I think about my experiences in Baltimore, Atlanta, Detroit, New Mexico, the Bay Area, just my strongest and most scalable impact investments have all originated out of grant strategies and grant partnerships with the place-based teams that were focused, or national teams that were focused on that work. And for me, also, holistic wraparound is extremely important as you think about impact investing. So, for me, I always think that I need a viable ecosystem to put my money in, because if I don't have a viable ecosystem to put my money in, then it's going to underperform, and then that means my impact investment underperforms.

So when I think about what's the risk mitigant that's the most important risk mitigant, it's to really understand that community and place ample grant dollars and philanthropic support to leverage coinvestment, to bring other players to the table just so that I can start to think about what my impact investment strategy looks like. Also, there's also a focus around community mental health, I know that Dr. Key has mentioned this in previous conversations and may mention it later, I think it's critical as we think about how to really support entrepreneurs as in out of what we will say this recovery time into a more proactive strategy moving forward.

And last thing I just have to note is that there's some limitations to private philanthropy. A lot of people run toward that private philanthropy is supposed to close a jump and solve a lot of issues, but they're not really built, they're not systems that are built for restoration. In many ways, they're tools that generate organizational revenue, take advantage of tax benefits, or give a portion away through methods and approaches that are aligned with that organization's values and missions. Sometimes that means that it's not congruent with the local community needs, and so you have to make sure that both the local community values and the organization's missions are aligned moving forward to make sure you have the strongest restorative impact investment strategies.

Williams: Thank you, James. And that's really a helpful analysis, which really laid the groundwork for a question for Dr. Key. So early, it was really mentioned, really the intersection, the marriage, if you will, between entrepreneurship, particularly for entrepreneurs of color, and advocacy. So I would love if you could expand on the type of advocacy you think is really helpful that goes beyond this type of performative posting so that small businesses of color move beyond how do they keep their doors open, how do they survive so that it could actually be sustained and scale and thrive?

Hallmon: Yes, so I wholeheartedly believe support is a verb. So, what that means: action. When we think about advocacy, what should come behind that is what has that advocacy done? How has it been applied to something? So, for corporations, beyond shared professional services, where are you putting your dollars? Because Dell mentioned it earlier, standing up organizations that are supporting entrepreneurs of color is a great way to support hundreds of businesses at one time. You don't have to reinvent the wheel there. Support the organization who's doing the work to help businesses scale. For the everyday person, it's people I love the most. What we all have in common are the things that we do.

This week, I know we've all have spent money somewhere. The question is at the end of the month, if we can't, when it's time for us to look at our books and say, "Oh, my goodness, I spent all this money," the question is did you spend your money on a Black and Brown business? If the answer is no, I say, "Are you really about change the way that you say that you are?" And that is literally challenging our habits and how we think about spending. But another thing is how we must change our mind about how we think about Black and Brown businesses.

I opened a retail store at Ponce City Market in November. I opened a store in the heart of a pandemic because businesses were closing. So I said, "Hey, we're going to open it up because we have the support of the community," but some of the experiences, and it has been great, we were one of the highest-performing stores at Ponce City Market, but some of the questions we've gotten is just from some of the shoppers. I have a great deal of grace, but I think this is something that must be addressed. Questions have been, "So if I buy this, is this like buying FUBU?" And for those who grew up in the ’90s, FUBU is "For Us, By Us," Daymond John and his homeboys opened up a business. And my answer has been, and I've trained my team to answer in this way, "No, it's like buying a T-shirt. No, it's like buying a book," because if we can disconnect our biases or what it means to buy Black and Brown, then we're much more likely to do it. The thing about it, though, is that destination of getting in the storefront is completely different pathway than it is for a white business. When we're divorcing what we think, we cannot undermine what is also true.

Those sacrifices to be able to open your business in a heart of the pandemic and keep it open, every day, there is a risk. If I keep pushing for what I want, am I going to earn my likes, my mortgage? All these things are going to be lost. So, the pathway isn't the same, but the product, the excellence, the things that we love to brag to our friends about is all the same. So, humanizing that and making that connection there, but supporting the local business, supporting the local community. This is for everyday folks. We can all do this. But for corporate, for corporations, I believe that everyone is on the bandwagon that they heard that shared professional services is the thing. It is a thing, but also capital is a thing, and nonrestricted funds and supporting the operations of organizations to help them stand up their missions, hire trainers, get program managers, get an operations manager, that is how we do our work well. So, we really have to put our money where we say our advocacy is, and it should be a long-term relationship. [silence]

Gines: We lost your audio, Janelle.

Williams: Oh, can you hear me now?

Gines: Yeah, we got you.

Williams: Thank you. So, we've had several questions coming in from our audience and we are really excited about that. We've answered several already, but we'd love to include attendee participation, particularly for this segment and invite you. If there's a burning question, now is the time to send us your questions so we can answer them. And we would also invite Dell to rejoin the panelists as we answer audience questions. So, one question I did want to lift up, and again, everyone is invited to answer these questions, how can a financial institution offer a pool of money for small business owners whose credit scores are lower and have little or no collateral for a loan? There are financial literacy classes in place, however, funding is still needed to support these programs, so essentially the question really stems on how do we support a small business of color so that it can access capital while there are challenges around eligibility for this capital? And I'd invite two panelists to respond to this question.

Wahls: Sure. I guess I will jump in and start and kick off the conversation. So, I think that from a funder's perspective, there are a couple of ways that you can support. The first is, recognize that your perception of risk is your perception of risk as an organization. And what I mean by that is that you need to determine that the purpose of your capital, whether it's with grant, program-related investment capital, MRI capital, is to actually support entrepreneurs and not for you to just get return of your money back. And so, what that means is having a more flexible capital. So using your grant capital, for example, and placing that with organizations, thinking about off-balance or balance sheet guarantees if you're a larger foundation, and you can do that, to provide enhancement to entrepreneurs as they go through the underwriting process, using your grant funding to actually fund technical assistance programs and programs like Dr. Key's where you can tie back to funding, but not separately.

So, a lot of times what you'll see is, philanthropy will fund entrepreneurs participating in these programs, but then won't have money on the back end to actually finance them afterwards, tie them together. So, for a strategy that we did at Casey is that we worked with a statewide CDFI in North Carolina, provided actual PRI capital with that CDFI, but then provided grant capital to the local HBCU [historically Black college and university] that worked in partnership with it. And so, we knew that there'll be a funding source if folks graduated from these programs, that then they could go and apply for loans. And then we underwrote that, recognizing that there may be a loss and then didn't worry about the fact that it was a loss because we identify it as a program-related investment, which private foundations have that luxury of doing because of the tax code. So, these are some of the ways that philanthropy can step in and say, "Let's do holistic funding approaches. We need to fund the ecosystem but actually have capital waiting on the back end that may not get returned to you in 5 years." It may be a 10-year PRI, it may be a 15-year PRI, but you know that capital's already in the ecosystem, which then could be leveraged by other potential investments moving forward. So, I will pause there.

Williams: I will add another question came in that dovetails on this one and would invite two more panelists to chime in. It references, "As financial institutions look for opportunities to invest, do you believe access to capital concerns are causal, symptomatic, or both?" Which I think dovetails really well in the earlier question. Any takers? Okay.

Wahls: So, I will jump only because...oh, I think I will jump only because it's actually a follow-on to my answer. And this is really, I'm talking to funders and right now and then I will be quiet and let other people talk. A lot of times, what funders will say is that we need to have data to show that there are entrepreneurs within the community before we comply. So you need to show us what the root cause problem is, you need to show us what the symptoms are, you need to show us all the data behind it, and then I always say, "But you don't do that for venture capital." You don't do that for other markets. You only need this evidence-based model for people of color, and you always needed it for place-based model, but you don't need it for any other market because you're taking a chance with that, but you need to always have proof to put capital in communities of color, and that's a pet peeve of mine. Clearly, I'm on a soapbox right now. But I think that is something that I think funders need to challenge themselves because that's really an internal bias.

Hallmon: I'll add really quickly, the best way to check inherent bias is making sure when these decisions are being made, they're not all the same type people sitting at the table and informing these decisions. It's hard to check what you are when everyone is a mirror. Having Black- and Brown-led organizations sitting at the table to ask these questions about how these decisions are being made, they'll mention it again at the top of the call, if we're not asking and if you all are not asking organizational entrepreneurs what they need, or why has it been hard for them to establish credit, why was it hard for them to establish relationships with the bank, it is hard for you to be the decision maker there because there is so much privilege that exists. There's no way that decisions can be informed by people who exist in privilege every day. If someone there with a real experience of what their life has been is not talking about, are not talking about those shared and lived experiences. So, I believe beyond checking, thinking about that inherent bias is, who is getting the invitation to make these decisions and how are we assessing and measuring outcomes? In translation, what is the accountability for all the things that these organizations, corporations, CDFIs said they're going to do? Who is holding these people accountable?

Gines: No, you go ahead, Samí.

Haiman-Marrero: I'm sorry. I just wanted to add that that's the challenge, that these conversations haven't been made before. And so, a lot of them are just playing catch-up. And so, when the pandemic hit and the business community was being affected, a lot of mainstream organizations were reaching out like, "Oh, how to..." And one of the invitations to participate in programming to help, the title was how to manage your cash flow. And so then, of course, as an entrepreneur who is an activist, they asked for questions for the panelists before the presentation. So, I tapped into Dr. Kelly Burton's Disrupt This report and said, "Well, BIPOC entrepreneurs aren't born with the generational wealth." And I just gave them all the data points before asking my question. And of course, the question was, "So then how am I supposed to manage cash flow if we don't have cash flow to manage?"

Of course, I heard back crickets, but that's the issue here, that there's a sense of urgency. This is like emergency in prevention needs to be made and we need to accelerate these conversations that it's not just talk, but just creating a community of practice that's ready to calibrate as you go along, but just get something going.

Gines: Yeah. Yeah, I was just going to say the concept of causality and the symptomatic and exogenous forces to me are really irrelevant. Because it doesn't matter how we got here, we got here, and the objective is to cocreate a solution to get us out. So, we've been studied to death. I'm speaking as a Black man now, not as the Federal Reserve. So, we've been studied to death and people want tangible action, which means the cocreation of solutions that lead to a better tomorrow. So if we know that there's disproportionate challenges in the credit market, and we do know there's reasons why, banks are heavily regulated, fintechs have shifted, small banks and other CDFIs don't always have the capacity, philanthropy hasn't really fully been invested in this space that they potentially could.

We know all of these things happen. So, the question becomes then, if our objective is to improve the condition, how do we cocreate a solution that's better, that's highly informed and responsive to the community that has that need? So, I think we have enough data at this point to make some reasonable assumptions on why these things are occurring. So, the next question is, how do we get there? Now, technically speaking, banks can do a lot of things, EQ2 investments, equity equivalent investments, CRA [Community Reinvestment Act] dollars, grant dollars from the corporate philanthropy side, knowledge management, all of these things that go into the CRA, even if it's not traditionally an on-the-books small business loan, they can work with nonprofit support providers, CDFIs, and other funders. For those who are concerned about acronyms, it is community development financial institutions, which are supported by the Treasury, because I saw some questions that asked that. To be able to do these things.

But the very, very simple thing at the root of it all is intentionality and choice. And you have certain people in certain institutions that will say, "Yes, let's figure it out." And you have others that need to be drug along the way. We need more of those, "Yes. Let's figure it out and get to work" boots on the ground and do this versus those that try to put up every excuse possible as to why something can't get done.

Williams: Thank you, panelists for those responses, and so I have one final question from our audience. And so, I'm going to pose this question and invite two panelists to respond, and then each panel is to give 30-second closing remarks. So, you have ample time to prepare for your closing remarks before we close this session. And the question is really around corporate terms and conditions. Do you see challenges in corporate terms and conditions as obstacles to winning larger contracts? For example, the liability and insurance requirements can be very large and difficult to meet. And are there strategies or research being done on corporate terms and conditions to help small businesses of color have more competitive applications and a higher likelihood of securing contracts?

Gines: I'm more interested in hearing the panel, because I like listening to you also, but if nobody has a thought, I have a thought, because this is a triggering moment for me. Again, this is one of those obstacles of what we can't do versus what we can. A simple, really half a minute story. So, I get a lot of calls from state government and procurement folks. And one of them, a big city, calls me up and says, "We want to do this and we want to improve the diversity and inclusion." And I was like, "Well, weren't you having the same conversation 10 years ago?" I said, "Well, so what did you do to create a growth pipeline over a period of time that deals with the ecosystem that talks about scalability, breaking down big-bit components, really being sensitive?"

Again, if you're going to hear a running thing through me of anything, it's going to be this. Why are you not listening to the people that you want to help? Because they're going to tell you what the barriers are, and then it's up to those that are really interested in transformative change to create the solution. So if a diverse contractor comes to you and says, "My bond capacity is not where it needs to be to create the bid," and you hear enough people say the same thing, then maybe you need to figure out how to restructure your program if you're truly interested in diversity and equity to address that particular concern, to address the capital concern, to address all of these other factors, the bid size concern. We continually make excuses as to why, because the default position for most systems is to resist change. And we are in a time where change absolutely must occur, intelligent change, not just random shotgun, let's try throw everything against the wall and see what sticks, but intelligent cocreated change by the people that are most impacted by the problems.

Williams: Thank you, Dell. And maybe Samí, you wanted to chime in on this one? Or is this right? Okay. So, if not, I will invite panelists to give 30-minute closing remarks before we pivot to the closeouts for this session. And I'm going to ask Dr. Key to kick us off with closing remarks.

Hallmon: Sure thing. First, let me say that this has been a great conversation. My first 15 seconds are for corporations and those who are sitting at the seat to be a vehicle for change. It is very important who the driver is. It is very important who the operator is. And so, I challenge those who are in a very critical position. And when we look back on history, it is going to be contingent upon the actions that we made today. What is driving your actions and what is driving your motivations? And what is your prejudice? What are your implicit biases against the growth of community?

And for entrepreneurs, folks like myself, folks like Samí, continue to fight the good fight. We need every single thing that you are dreaming and imagining. Every gift that you have is essential to the greater good of our community, or in my word, the village. I know that it is lonely. I know that it is challenging. I know that it is frustrating. But what I do know for sure, it is so worth it, and we need you to operate at your highest gifts, operate in highest level of excellence, and take so much time to love on yourself. Because creating a business to the detriment of your own health, the business not only fails, but you fail. So, let's just do some things differently as a community. And corporations, put your money where you say your actions are.

And for entrepreneurs, folks like myself, folks like Samí, continue to fight the good fight. We need every single thing that you are dreaming and imagining. Every gift that you have is essential to the greater good of our community, or in my word, the village. I know that it is lonely. I know that it is challenging. I know that it is frustrating. But what I do know for sure, it is so worth it, and we need you to operate at your highest gifts, operate in highest level of excellence, and take so much time to love on yourself. Because creating a business to the detriment of your own health, the business not only fails, but you fail. So, let's just do some things differently as a community. And corporations, put your money where you say your actions are.

Haiman-Marrero: That's great. I want to add to that with some homework. Sometimes we don't know where to start, and this is easy. You can go to, put in your ZIP code, and it'll spit out the population breakdown of your area in terms of ethnicity, age, race, all of these qualifiers or labels that we put on people, or have been put on people, and learn about what are those predominant communities in your region. And then Google is your friend. Just Google and say, "Who's serving," for example, where we are, "the Brazilian community, the Moroccan community, the Arabic community, Hispanic community, Haitian Creole community, even LGBTQ+ community, etc., the Asian community." And that's, I feel, just an easy way to start engaging, reach out to the leaders in the communities, and again, break bread.

We can't do it right now, but virtually reach out. Learn about other communities. Because for the Latino community, specifically, we tend to stay within our own and do business with our own, and there's so much you can learn from other cultures and backgrounds and perspectives. And also, you'll discover that we have more in common than we do differences. And that applies to the corporate sector, too. Do your homework. Know who's in your backyard and engage with them above and beyond just writing a check, but really rolling up your sleeves and doing the good work.

Wahls: And I would just add, and actually, I would like to say, this message is for funders and impact investors. All my messages have been tailored toward you during this panel. One of the things that I see as an investor is that pitches are always coming to us that are supposed to be extremely creative and novel and unique, and they're making some over-the-top creative financing models or perceived creative models. And I always kind of think to myself, "Well, simple debt and equity structures have worked forever," when those are internal transactions, can fully take advantage of the structure. So, you don't have to have a lot of crazy, creative financial models for it to work. My question is always going to be around, are you being creative just to be creative, to be slightly less exploitive? Or are you actually meeting your community capital needs and mitigating harm as an investor?

And that should be how you think about how you do your impact investment strategies and your grant making. So, for example, Dr. Key actually touched upon this, general support funding for fiscal hosting infrastructures is extremely important, but that's extremely important for grant making and impact investing. Because emerging small business development wards disproportionately, especially led by people of color, disproportionally relied on fiscal hosting and back office support. So, you need to support that. Recognizing that CDFIs, the loan funds led by people of color, especially if they have $50 million or less in that assets, need as much grant support as they need PRIs and corelate investments, so low-interest loans, or mission-related investments. They need grants support. Many of the largest CDFIs that you see were funded by grants, and they were funded by grants for over decades by philanthropic institutions, benefactors, etc.

So, when you see CDCs and other nonprofits' emerging-loan funds, recognize that they need grant support along with any other impact investment solution that you're going to provide. So, I just really wanted to double down this notion that brands just as much a part of impact investing as any other of the capital tools that you use as a foundation.

Williams: Thank you for closing remarks.

Gines: Just very brief, more of a word of encouragement that in times of crisis historically creates great opportunities for transformative change. So there's usually two pathways, divergent forks in the road, which is the fork back to the way it was and old, entrenched values in ways that really weren't that productive for many small businesses of color and communities of color, or an opportunity to completely reenvision how things are going to be done. I encourage us all to really be reflective on how we can take the second path.

Williams: And I'd like to thank our panelists again for joining us for this important conversation. Entrepreneurship was first out of necessity. It was a way of existing, surviving, and thriving in communities of color, and investing in strategies to support entrepreneurship can be one of many pathways to help tackle our racial wealth divide. I'm now going to turn it over to Karen who will close out our program officially, but thank you so much, panelists, for joining us for this conversation.

Leone de Nie: I'm going to first say, I'm humbled by playing this role of closing us out, because this is a hard act to follow. And I want to thank everybody who planned this event, but I really want to thank Samí and James and Dr. Key for really keeping us focused. I have many takeaways from the session. And actually, I'm going to even show I have a whole list of things that I listened and learned and messages that I want to take away myself. But I want to say, I know we're short on time, so I'm going to keep this succinct. And I'm going to say it reminds me of something that Angela Glover Blackwell from PolicyLink said on a session that we had hosted back in October that said, "This is the time for radical imagination." And radical imagination does not necessarily mean that we need to invent all new systems, but we need to make sure that our systems work for everyone.

And so, I heard from speakers today. I think some of the messages I've heard were support is a verb, and we need to make sure that advocacy turns into action. And I thought that was an important message to share. We heard that we need to commit and show up in our relationships with the recognition that this pie can get bigger. We do not need to be competing all the time. We can grow it. And that is an opportunity that we have not always taken advantage of. And we also need to challenge ourselves. When we ask philanthropy, when we ask funders, what does it mean and what data is necessary to make decisions to fund BIPOC entrepreneurs? We need to ask if we're asking for too much. So, these are the kinds of questions. And Dell shared with us, it's not about what can't be done, but what can be done.

So, for all of that, I just want to say, thank you so much for joining us today. I really want to thank everyone, all of our speakers, for pulling this together and sharing their insights. And I want to encourage folks to join us. There will be more conversations, more data will be released. The next thing that's coming up for us, we, all 12 Reserve Banks, partner to host the Racism and the Economy series, where we're looking really closely at what the root causes are that have created the disparities we see today, and what are the consequences for our economy, and what can we do to change that so that we really do achieve racial equity? And so, the next session is going to be on April 13, where we're going to focus on racism in the economy and what it means for the economics profession. But the series as a whole tackles issues that are much more closer to home into the communities that you serve.

We've already hosted sessions on education, employment, and housing. You can see all of those resources online. And for the rest of the year, we're going to be talking about entrepreneurship, health, wealth, financial services, and so much more. So, I really hope you'll join us for that. And as always, reach out to us, let us know what you're thinking, let us know what your communities need, and we would like to help steer you to resources and ways to help. So, thank you so much and have a great day.