By Mrinal Gokhale
Obtaining funds to start a business is difficult for many, so how do underrepresented communities navigate the challenge? This question was discussed during the “Access to Capital” panel as part of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee and Northwestern Mutual 3E Summit.
The 3E includes three summits organized before the four-day Democratic National Convention that will take place in Milwaukee. The Access to Capital Panel was held at Northwestern Mutual and moderated by Tina Chang of SysLogic.
Kalan Haywood Sr., founder of Haywood Group, was one of the panelists. He said that he believes the convention should be the opportunity to be more inclusive to all. He said that capital is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to opening minority owned businesses.
“Let’s find out who has done it, what have they done greatly, and who have they gone to,” he said. “There is no real network of who the investors are. It has to be the deliberate willingness to take the risk.”
Gregory Martin, Loan Officer at Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative, believes that diversity is very critical to Milwaukee’s small business community.
“Milwaukee is in desperate need of businesses of more diverse nature. Historically, minorities have not had access to capital in the way they need,” he said. He said that in addition to lack of access, lack of education and awareness are an issue.
“What research have you done as far as a business plan standpoint? Do you have a business plan? Did you do your research? What’s trending in the workplace?”
The panel was followed by a lunch featuring keynote speaker David Hinson of Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Mayor Tom Barrett also gave remarks about what the convention means for the city as a whole.
“This cannot be a city only effort. It needs to be a regional effort; it has to be something where all parts of Southeastern Wisconsin are interested in economic justice and racial equality and racial inclusiveness,” Barrett said.
He said that although this inclusiveness is a challenge in Wisconsin, being able to overcome it will have a positive long term impact.
“It has to be with an eye towards action in taking decisions for investments, for opening channels for capital, and I think the more we work toward the goal, the more successful this convention will be and the more successful we will be as a community.”