Small business continues to be the backbone of the American economy, despite a brutal 2020, where over 400,000 small businesses failed in the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Minority-owned businesses were particularly hard hit. Join Washington Post Live on Thursday, July 22 as business leaders explore the future of diversity in small business, the challenges minority-owned businesses often face in raising capital and how government and the private sector can work to keep these critically important enterprises thriving.


As a member of the House Small Business Committee, Rep. Chu also said the Small Business Administration did not collect important demographic information about business they funded during the pandemic “There definitely need to be greater oversight. One very, very disappointing thing was that the SBA did not require that the institutions say whether the business was a business of color, a minority-owned business.. a woman or a veteran. And since that was not implemented… we have lost very valuable information as to whether we are really serving the small business of need.” (Washington Post Live)
The President and CEO of Opportunity Finance Network said lack of investment in non-White and rural communities is “leaving… opportunity on the sidelines.” “In a very sophisticated economy like the U.S., a lot works, but when we leave behind communities and neighborhoods and tribal areas or rural areas, we’re leaving… opportunity on the sidelines. And here’s where our small businesses need investment… This is the time if we want to get this economy rebuilt and to really address the wealth gaps and the deeper inequality that has bedeviled the American economy and society for decades.” (Washington Post Live)
The President and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. said while all small business owners top concern is access to capital, Black-business owners feel that pressure more acutely. “When we did a survey of our business members of what their concerns were, if you ask any small business owner, they will say access to capital. But when you say that same question posed to a Black business owner, they will say number one, two and three top concerns are access to affordable and available capital.” (Washington Post Live)

Ron Busby

Provided by US Black Chambers, Inc.

As President/CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC), Ron Busby, Sr. brings business management skills as well as a lifetime of community development experience to the organization. Mr. Busby is a former successful business owner himself, and he has been recognized as one of the nation’s best CEOs. Ron grew his first company, USA Superclean, from $150,000 annualized revenue, to over $15 million in only 10 years. Early on in his career, USA Superclean was recognized as the largest Black-owned janitorial firm in the country. Mr. Busby has also started and grown two other janitorial firms, both resulting in over $4 million in annualized revenue.

As a graduate with honors, from both Florida A&M University and Clark Atlanta University, Busby frequently extolls the importance of higher education. He continued to advance his own scholarly pursuits by attending the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration, a Dartmouth College graduate programfor minority and women owned businesses.

Currently, Ron serves on the Pfizer Small Business Council, National Newspapers Publishers Association Foundation Board of Directors, and White House African American Leadership Council. He has also formerly served on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Council on Underserved Communities. Trained by some of the country’s leading corporate executives, Ron developed his skills at some of the nation’s largest corporations including; Exxon, Xerox, IBM, and Coca-Cola USA. While in corporate America, he was recognized as National Sales Person of the Year. Ron also has chamber experience as he was previously the President of the Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce for five years.

A native of Oakland, CA; Ron has dedicated himself to the empowerment of the Black community. Ron is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. Ron has two sons and currently lives in the Washington, DC area.

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.)

Judy Chu was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2009. She represents the 27thCongressional District, which includes Pasadena and the west San Gabriel Valley of southern California.

Rep. Chu currently serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over legislation pertaining to taxes, revenues, trade, Social Security, and Medicare. In that Committee, Rep. Chu is a member of the Subcommittees on Health, Oversight, and Worker and Family Support, giving her purview over healthcare reform, the IRS, and crucial safety net programs.

She also serves on the House Small Business Committee, which has authority over the Small Business Administration. She is the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and a member of the Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure. In 2011, Chu was elected Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus , which advocates for the needs and concerns of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community across the nation. She helps lead the Tri-Caucus, a joint effort with the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Chu founded and co-chairs the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus , which advocates for the copyright protections of those in the creative industries, such as music, film and visual arts. She also serves in leadership of the House Democratic Caucus as a Member of the Steering and Policy Committee.

Some of Rep. Chu’s proudest accomplishments in Congress include: introducing and passing a Congressional resolution of regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; working with President Obama to declare the San Gabriel Mountains a national monument; requiring the Department of Defense to address military hazing; helping entrepreneurs by establishing two new Small Business Development Centers in the San Gabriel Valley; helping small businesses refinance old, expensive real estate loans by reviving the Small Business Administration’s 504 loan refinance program; and requiring HHS to develop minimum standards for sober living homes that provide safe and stable living environments for those recovering from addiction. Chu was first elected to the Board of Education for Garvey School District in 1985. From there, she was elected to the Monterey Park City Council, where she served as Mayor three times. She then was elected to the State Assembly and then California’s elected tax board, known as the State Board of Equalization. In 2009, she became the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress in history.

Chu lives with her husband, Michael Eng, in the city of Monterey Park, where they have been residents for over 32 years.

Lisa Mensah

Provided by Opportunity Finance Network (OFN).

Lisa Mensah is President and CEO of Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), the nation’s leading network of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). Under her leadership, OFN helps CDFIs leverage public funding and private investment to bring affordable, responsible capital to rural, urban, and Native communities underserved by mainstream finance.

Since joining OFN in 2017, Mensah has attracted new visibility and investment to the CDFI field through programs like the Grow with Google Small Business Fund and OFN’s Finance Justice Fund, a $1 billion socially responsible investment with Twitter as the Fund’s first investor. Widely considered an expert on access to capital in low-wealth communities, Mensah frequently testifies before Congress. And recently, Forbes and Morning Joe recognized her as one of five women safeguarding America’s small businesses.

Prior to OFN, Mensah served as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development in the Obama Administration. Other career achievements include being the founding Executive Director of the Initiative on Financial Security at the Aspen Institute, managing the country’s largest philanthropic grant and loan portfolio of investments in rural America at the Ford Foundation and serving as a commercial banker at Citibank. She serves on multiple boards and advisory committees and holds an M.A. from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. from Harvard University.

Content from U.S. Bank

The following content is produced and paid for by a Washington Post Live event sponsor. The Washington Post newsroom is not involved in the production of this content.

(Washington Post Live)

In a segment presented by U.S. Bank, Greg Cunningham, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer will discuss the long-standing racial and economic equity gaps among Black Americans and the commitments they’ve made to address the inequalities, the challenges that small business owners of color are facing, and the internal changes U.S. Bank is making to help firms come back from the pandemic.

Greg Cunningham

Greg Cunningham is Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for U.S. Bank. He joined the bank in 2015 as Vice President of Customer Engagement. Greg’s mission is to make diversity, equity and inclusion a business imperative. In order to do this, he focuses on workplace culture, customer loyalty, supplier diversity, and community outreach. His diversity, equity and inclusion expertise has been showcased in national and regional media outlets, including Fortune, Bloomberg, American Banker and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. A recent profile of Greg in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal received a national journalism award. And Ebony Magazine included Greg on its Power 100 list in 2018.

Greg spent the previous sixteen years at Target Corporation where he most recently led Lifestyle Marketing. He helped grow Target’s business and drove brand differentiation through cultural leadership. A few wins under Greg’s guidance include leading the marketing efforts for Target’s first entry into Manhattan, building multicultural expertise, and leading sports marketing for the organization.

Greg’s leadership vision asks: What’s remarkable about it? He places heart before head and brings vision, creativity, and relatability to those he meets. Colleagues call him a respected bridge builder and visionary. A current employee would say the organization is better because Greg’s here.

His non-work engagements are a reflection of his worldview. Greg is a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (the Boule’) and serves on the National Board of Directors for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) the nation’s largest and most effective minority higher education organization.

Greg has a BA in marketing from UNCF member school Clark-Atlanta University and an MBA from Fordham University. He is a Pittsburgh native whose interests include writing, sports, social media, volunteering, exercising, and consuming “pop” culture.

Greg chooses to spend as much time as possible with his amazing wife Jacqueline Lloyd Cunningham and their two children, Myles and Whitney.

His personal brand tag line: “I Bring Life to Brands.”

Jeanne Meserve

Jeanne Meserve is a homeland security expert and analyst, moderator, and award-winning journalist. She is currently a Security Expert for Canada’s CTV News and co-host of the SpyTalk podcast. While a correspondent and anchor at CNN and ABC Jeanne earned her profession’s highest honors, including two Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow Award. She also contributed to two CNN Peabody Awards.

Jeanne is a member of the Homeland Security Experts Group and the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, and serves on the board of the non-profit Space Foundation.

She moderates discussions on topics ranging from technology and security, to medicine and the environment. Her clients include AtlanticLIVE, Washington Post Live, the Munich Security Conference, the Halifax International Security Forum, and the global conferences of the International Women’s Forum.

At CNN Meserve created the homeland security beat, covering intelligence, law enforcement, cyber, aviation, border and port security. She anchored worldwide coverage of the Yitzhak Rabin assassination and the death of Princess Diana, and was the first to report on the devastating flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She was a key member of the CNN political team during the 1996 and 2000 elections. While at ABC News she covered the State Department and reported from the Middle East, Asia and Europe.