Small businesses account for nearly half of the nation’s gross domestic product. After the coronavirus crisis led to uneven government regulation and lack of access to capital investment, the very survival of many small businesses is at stake.

On Wednesday, Oct. 28, Washington Post Live will look at both the federal and state roles regarding regulation, relief interventions and access to capital. We’ll also examine how new hurdles have changed the small-business model as they learn to sink or swim, and look at how new technologies can help brick-and-mortar businesses spur new growth.



Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)

A third-generation Marylander, Ben Cardin has been a national leader on health care, retirement security, the environment and fiscal issues while representing the people of Maryland in the U.S. Senate, and before that in the House of Representatives. He has worked across party lines to further U.S. national security and to ensure that good governance, transparency and respect for human rights are integrated into American foreign policy efforts.

First elected to the Senate in 2006, Senator Cardin currently serves as Ranking Member of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee. He is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Environment & Public Works committees. He also serves on the Senate Finance Committee.

A member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee since arriving in the Senate, Senator Cardin was responsible for the extension of increased guarantees and reduced fees in the Small Business Administration's two largest loan programs. He has been working to find better ways to provide access to credit for qualified small businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as expanding access to contracts for women-owned, minority owned and veteran-owned businesses. He consistently is urging federal agencies to take all steps possible to meet or exceed their modest small business contracting goals. He also has been a strong defender of the federal workforce and has fought to end the harmful effects of sequestration.

A 1967 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law (1st in his class), he earned his B.A. degree in 1964 from the University of Pittsburgh (cum laude). He is a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Board of Visitors, the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies' National Advisory Board and the St. Mary's College Advisory Board, Center for Study of Democracy.

Senator Cardin is married to Myrna Edelman Cardin and his daughter Deborah and son-in-law Jonathan Willis have two daughters, Madeline and Julia.

Ilir Sela, Founder and CEO of Slice

Ilir Sela is the Founder and CEO of Slice, the all-in-one ordering and marketing tech platform for local pizzerias. Ilir is “third generation pizza.” Born to an Albanian family in Macedonia and raised in Staten Island, he grew up helping his family run their New York City pizzerias.

After getting a degree in Computer Science, Ilir started his first company, Nerd Force, in 2003 and sold it in 2008. He then combined his passion for technology with his deep experience in the pizza industry to build Slice — a company that empowers local pizzerias with the tech, data, and marketing to compete with the big chains. Now discovering and ordering delicious pizza has never been easier.

Through its partnerships, Slice has driven over $1B in earnings for over 13,000 independent pizzerias nationwide.

Tiffany Dufu, Founder and CEO, The Cru

Tiffany Dufu is a catalyst-at-large in the world of women’s leadership and the author of Drop the Ball, a memoir and manifesto that shows women how to cultivate the single skill they really need in order to thrive: the ability to let go. According to foreword contributor Gloria Steinem, Drop the Ball is “important, path-breaking, intimate and brave.”

Named to Fast Company’s League of Extraordinary Women, Tiffany is Founder and CEO of The Cru, a peer coaching platform for women looking to accelerate their professional and personal growth. She was a launch team member to Lean In and was Chief Leadership Officer at Levo, one of the fastest growing millennial professional networks. Prior to that, Tiffany served as President of The White House Project, as a Major Gifts Officer at Simmons College in Boston, and as Associate Director of Development at Seattle Girls’ School.

Tiffany serves on the board of Girls Who Code and Simmons College. She is a member of Women’s Forum New York, Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc. and is a Lifetime Girl Scouts. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Content from Principal®:

The resilience of small businesses during COVID-19

With social distancing, business disruptions, and remote workers juggling financial responsibilities, homeschooling and caregiving, the COVID-19 pandemic presents new challenges for small businesses. Elise Labott sits down for a one-on-one conversation with Amy Friedrich from Principal Financial Group®. Amy leads their U.S. Insurance Solutions team, serving more than 100,000 small to medium-sized employers and 3.5 million individuals. They’ll discuss how these businesses are navigating the current environment, how their operational model has changed, and what strategies small business owners can implement to better support their workforce.

Amy Friedrich, President, U.S. Insurance Solutions, Principal®

Amy Friedrich leads Principal®’s U.S. Insurance Solutions, serving 100,000 small to medium-sized employers and 3.5 million individuals. Through a broad range of protection solutions, Principal helps employers attract and retain key talent, protect against loss of income and assets, and secure their financial future. Friedrich leads 3,500 employees responsible for group employee benefits, life insurance, disability insurance, and non-qualified deferred compensation, along with the distribution arm.

Interviewed by Elise Labott, Adjunct Professor, American University

Elise Labott is a leading journalist covering foreign US foreign policy and international issues, most recently as CNN’s Global Affairs Correspondent. She has reported from more than . 80 countries, traveled the world with seven secretaries of state and has interviewed many world leaders and newsmakers. Elise is the founder of Twopoint.o Media, a digital media platform that aims to engage, inform and inspire citizens to solve today’s most pressing global challenges, and an adjunct professor at American University’s School of International Service. She is a contributor to Politico, provides commentary for MSNBC, NPR, BBC and several other broadcast outlets and is a sought-after interviewer and moderator. Elise also serves as a global ambassador for Vital Voices, an organization that empowers female entrepreneurs around the world and is on the advisory committee of Global Kids DC, a program which introduces high school students in underserved communities to international affairs. Prior to joining CNN, Elise covered the UN for ABC News and also reported on diplomatic and foreign policy issues for Agence France-Presse and other publications. Elise is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a master’s degree from the New School for Social Research.