Good afternoon everyone. Thank you, Madam Vice President, for having me here today to join in this important conversation.
Seeing all of the business owners here today, I am reminded of my own family’s story.
I know firsthand that America’s road to prosperity runs through our minority business communities. My four-time great-grandparents, former slaves, built a successful horse and buggy taxi business that stood on the land where the Commerce Department sits today. Their son owned the premier hotel in Washington just blocks away and became one of our nation’s first Black patent-holders, and his wife owned and candy shop. And their son, Madam Vice President, was the very first graduate of Howard University.
Their success story is an important reminder that, in spite of what were often near-insurmountable obstacles, minority-owned businesses have always been part of this country’s economic success. Like many of you, I have started and run businesses, but I have also had my business fail due to a lack of capital – an experience that I believe is all too common for entrepreneurs of color.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, we are working to change all of that. The Commerce Department has been committed to unlocking economic opportunities for communities of color because we know that equity drives prosperity not for just some of the country but the whole country. By providing aspiring entrepreneurs of color access to resources, information, and entrepreneurial ecosystems, we are creating opportunities not only for those women and men but unleashing the potential for innovation and growth that will benefit us all.
The Biden-Harris Administration has given the Minority Business Development Agency – the only federal agency created specifically to foster the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses in America – a permanent seat at the table, empowering the agency to double in size and make historic investments aimed at expanding the reach of its vital work.
Just last year, MBDA launched the $93 million Capital Readiness Program grant competition – the largest of its kind in the history of the Commerce Department – to help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses.
There is still a long way to go to ensure that minority-owned businesses in America can grow and thrive. We have to continue to listen to the needs of business owners across the country; to meet them where they are and make certain that they don’t fail simply because they couldn’t get the resources and support they need.
That’s why this conversation is so important and why I’m so happy to be here. Once again, thank you to the Vice President for having me, and for bringing us together. I look forward to the discussion.