Small and Medium Enterprises

Supporting the Formation and Growth of Small Businesses

Small businesses comprise 99.7 percent of employer firms and 48.5 percent of private sector employment in the United States. They have also served as a source of upward mobility for generations of Americans, including immigrants and minorities. Yet, new firm formation rates have been declining for decades and the number of active small businesses is falling. In 2016, the Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group will build off of the Entrepreneurship Working Group of prior years, and attendees will examine promising approaches to supporting firm formation and success. A particular emphasis will be placed on new sources of small business finance, from microfinance to online lending.

2016 Subtopics

Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses

Minority and women-owned firms are the fastest growing category of new business starts, but these groups still face additional barriers in launching their businesses and raising capital. Attendees will discuss strategies to ensure that capital and support services are available to these entrepreneurs.

Social Enterprise

Entrepreneurs are increasingly using social enterprise business models to address social challenges, but confusion still surrounds this new sector. Attendees will discuss common definitions for social enterprise and coordinate efforts to support its growth.

Small Business Financing

Many entrepreneurs depend on mission-based lenders like Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and microfinance institutions. Attendees will discuss strategies to drive more capital to these institutions and new technologies that can make them more effective.

Online and Alternative Lending for Underserved Markets

Online and alternative lenders have the potential to revolutionize how underserved firms raise capital, but the industry is still determining responsible loaning practices. Attendees will identify emerging standards for responsible lending, and seek to increase their adoption throughout the industry.

Innovative Commitments

Scaling Community Advantage Capital for Small Business

Commitment by: Bank of America Corporation; U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); Justine Petersen; Accion Texas Inc.; CDC Small Business Finance
In 2014, Bank of America, the SBA, and eight leading CDFIs committed to a collective strategy to significantly scale up small business lending under the SBA Community Advantage Loan Program. Through this direct effort, $175 million will be loaned to approximately 1,750 small businesses, creating or retaining more than 23,000 jobs. To date, Bank of America has provided a total of $17.75 million in lending capital to CDFI partners in order to fund the small business loans.

Partnership to Grow Responsible Small Business Lending

Commitment by: Lending Club; Opportunity Fund
In 2015, Opportunity Fund and Lending Club committed to pilot a new partnership that will provide $10 million in needed loan capital to small businesses in underserved areas of California, helping an estimated 400 businesses. Through this first-of-its-kind partnership, a custom credit model will be created that offers qualifying businesses a new co-branded loan.

Elevating Entrepreneurs – Access to Mentoring, Capital, and Education

Commitment by: UBS Americas; Valley Economic Development Center (VEDC)
In 2014, UBS Americas and VEDC committed to expand their previous Commitment to Action, which made $15 million of loan capital available to small businesses. The partnership committed an additional $20 million to small businesses through $50,000 to $500,000 loans, expanding the programmatic offerings and geographic reach of the Elevating Entrepreneurs mentoring, education, and networking activities to fuel small business growth. To date, VEDC has closed six loans, creating an estimated 49 jobs.

Green Business Development in Indian Country

Commitment by: Trees, Water & People (TWP); Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE)
In 2014, TWP and LSE committed to a major expansion of their green job skills training program for Native Americans, which created an informal network of Green Teams on 14 reservations across the Great Plains. The expansion creates a new approach to help Native Americans develop and run their own green businesses—including new workshops, a green business plan competition, and training in alternative construction methods. To date, TWP and LSE have completed nine green job skills workshops, attended by a total of 29 Native individuals from eight different Tribal communities.

Featured Past Participants

Accion U.S. Network
B Lab
Bank of America Corporation
Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation
Goldman Sachs
Lending Club
McKinsey & Company
Opportunity Fund
U.S. Small Business Administration
United States Department of Commerce
UP Global