The National Women’s Business Council and the Small Business Administration met with fund managers and other industry leaders to identify opportunities to increase funding streams to women and minority-led funds
New York City, NY – The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Investment and Innovation have joined forces to host a series of events to identify strategies that will increase the participation of women in the financial services industry – including early stage venture capital, growth capital, private equity and structured lending.
One way to do this will be through the effective implementation of the SBA’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program – an investment portfolio dedicated to working with funds that invest in small businesses. The SBIC program has over $23BN in assets under management across more than 294 funds, of which approximately 50 are run and/or led by underserved groups. Last Wednesday’s roundtable discussion moderated by NWBC Chairwoman Carla Harris, featuring remarks by SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, focused on strategies to increase the diversity of the SBIC program, but also investment firms across the board.
“I am thrilled to be working with the SBA on this initiative as many women and minority fund managers are not familiar with how the SBIC program has evolved and may not be fully leveraging this opportunity. If we can effectively increase awareness around the availability of these funding dollars and create greater access for women and minority owned funds, then we can exponentially increase the dollars flowing to women and minority owned small businesses. There is also a secondary effect of increasing the motivation to specifically invest these dollars to support and sustain women-owned small businesses”, said Carla Harris.
The event was attended by more than 20 fund leaders or managers; participants spoke frankly about their experiences in the industry, sharing different strategies that they employed to raise capital for their funds and made recommendations to increase the flow of capital from institutional. Many obstacles for women led funds were articulated including lack of access to venture capital networks, family offices, and specific targets for pension funds to allocate to women owned funds. Solutions were shared as well, such as state level tax incentives for angel investors to invest in women and minority businesses, special allocation for women emerging managers, and even research into the performance of women-led and women-owned funds.
“As the face of small business ownership changes – so should the faces of those who invest. We all play a role in increasing the flow of capital for women-owned funds, and ultimately businesses; and it’s important that we own this role. It is also important that we continue to encourage women and girls to pursue careers in finance and support their endeavors to be successful in these roles. As we get more women in positions as asset allocators, investors, and bankers, we can also support the flow of capital to women owned businesses in an ancillary way. I was especially excited to hear the continued commitment to act from the Administrator of the SBA. I believe that we can make significant progress over the next few years,” said Carla Harris.
The NWBC and the Office of Investment and Innovation will continue to work on more roundtables this year.