It's not about the 99%. It's not about the 1%. It's about the 100%.
June 14, 2012
Last Friday, just before I took the stage at CGI America with others working in sustainable finance, the Clinton Global Initiative announced a commitment to supporting small business. Part of this commitment is an initiative of Jalia Ventures, which makes early stage investments in mission-driven minority entrepreneurs. Jalia is launching Impact America HBCU Venture Catalyst, a capacity-building initiative that will grow awareness of social and environmental issues, while providing training for minority entrepreneurs through a venture competition and incubator program for mission-driven start-ups.
Start-ups used to add about 3 million jobs a year to the U.S. economy, but we’re now down to 2 million. And while women are founding businesses at 1.5 times the national average, only 3-5% of all women-owned businesses receive venture capital funding.
Small wins can achieve big results. We all need to be involved in fulfilling this commitment because it is one of the ways we will help our economy recover. The Association for Enterprise Opportunity conducted an analysis that demonstrates that if one in three U.S. microbusinesses hired one worker, U.S. could achieve full employment.
It takes a village.
The federal government is working toward this goal by funding CDFIs across the country, as my fellow panelist, Donna Gambrell of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury) pointed out.
Philanthropists are doing their part. In 2011, the Case Foundation joined with the Kauffman Foundation at the White House to launch the Startup America Partnership, a private sector led initiative designed to spark job growth by championing entrepreneurs and high growth businesses. One year later, the Startup America Partnership has announced more than $1.2 billion in resources for startups and launched 18 regional affiliates.
And then there is the business community. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Jim Koch, the founder of The Boston Beer Company (as he drank a Sam Adams beer on the stage at 9 am in the morning!), who has created a philanthropic program that champions the great ideas and dreams of other little guys pursuing their passion in the food and beverage industry.
And now for you. And me. All of us. It’s time for us as investors to align our money with our values. You can do so by investing as little as $20 in women’s economic empowerment on Microplace. You can serve as a mentor to an entrepreneur just starting out. You can give to a community organization providing job training.
Economic recovery rests on ensuring access to capital, both to grow existing businesses and to finance new ventures. Through ground-breaking mechanisms, promising models are actively supplying much-needed capital into small businesses and economic development. In some cases, these models are also demonstrating new and sustainable ways to grow wealth and help communities adapt to a changing economy. On this panel, we discussed investments in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), affordable housing, and green infrastructure projects, sharing replicable, scalable approaches that will help us build the next generation of the American economy. You can see it online at http://www.cgiamerica.org/2012/webcast/archives/view_webcast.asp?id=4.
Let’s face it – we need jobs. And we all need to play a part. It’s not about the 99%. It's not about the 1%. It's about the 100%.
Follow Lisa Hall on Twitter: @LisaGreenHall.