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Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit focuses on bringing people together

HOUSTON – In a city known for its diversity, people from all walks of life participate in the everyday hustle and bustle, including local economy.

A recent report by Market Expert shows Houston at the top of the list of all U.S. cities for developing minority-owned businesses.

"Opportunities are available, and I think that's what making entrepreneurship so prevalent today," said Marcus Davis, steward of The Breakfast Klub. In 2001, Davis helped start the burgeoning businesses located in the heart of H-Town.

Zakiya Larry, CEO and founder of Quest Media Training, is part of the Black Enterprise 2017 Entrepreneurs Summit, which kicked off Wednesday at the Marriott Marquis downtown. As a minority woman business owner, Larry said she feels lucky to be in one of the most diverse cities. According to data from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), minority businesses have experience significant strides in growth.

"Houston is a lot more welcoming and there are a lot more voices at the table, particularly when I attend different meetings, different chamber events, and that makes me a lot more comfortable because I don't walk in with a stigma, necessarily," said Larry.

However, some entrepreneurs were surprised to see data that shows a significant difference in the amount of money each minority demographic is able to secure in U.S. SBA loans. From 2012-2016 black-owned businesses were able to secure $129.8 million in U.S. SBA loans, while other groups like Asian/Pacific Islander-owned businesses were able to secure $1.3 billion and Hispanic/Latino $288.9 million.

The SBA-Houston District Director Tim Jeffcoat said more people are getting loans, in fact, the number of loans has increased by more than 200 percent in the last five years. The growth in U.S. SBA loans to black-owned businesses has increase by 231.1 percent. The growth is happening. However, the monetary difference came as a surprise to several local business owners.

"That is shocking to me, but I understand that it's part of access to capital, and it also has a lot to do with collateral and access to education on what it takes to get these types of loans and that's why bolstering the community is important," said Larry.

Knowledge about available resources was one reason SBA-Houston District Director Tim Jeffcoat said may be a contributing factor as to the disparity in the numbers. Jeffcoat said many Asian business owners thoroughly pursue information about their funding options. Jeffcoat also said it may also be because of the nature of the loans.

"Many Asian/Pacific Islander businesses are hotels, restaurants and convenient stores," Jeffcoat said. He says those loans are generally for a larger dollar amounts. 

Alfred A. Edmond Jr., senior vice president of Black Enterprise, the organization that hosted the summit, said the difference in numbers is likely also because there is an abundance of newer black-owned businesses. "There's  a long legacy in African-American business ownership but what you have now coming out of the 2008 recession is a lot of Americans-African-Americans , specifically, saying, 'Now I"m going to take my shot.' "

Edmond Jr. said it would likely take time to see the newer businesses gain the capital.

"We're starting businesses faster than ever before," Edmond Jr. said. "Here's the challenge-most of those businesses are new. They're not generating the type of revenue that more established businesses are."

Davis remembered how The Breakfast Klub started in 2001.

"We started under-capitalized, underfunded," Davis said. "We had to put together a very grassroots campaign," said Davis.

However, Davis, who talked over the hustle and bustle of a packed restaurant, hoped to inspire entrepreneurs who may be in the same boat he was.

"New business owners need to know there are opportunities out there," Davis said.

For example, the SBA has a business development program called "8A," geared towards helping people acquire federal contracts-all in hopes to help make the system more competitive.

https://www.sba.gov/contracting/government-contracting-programs/8a-business-development-program

The Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit is geared towards connecting people with resources, networking and finding innovative solutions to the community's needs. The conference portion of the Summit  lasts from Wednesday to Friday. It is expected to have more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, business funding sources, and corporate executives. The Entrepreneurs Summit is designed to provide attendees a chance to network and learn from hundreds of entrepreneurs, including angel investors, from around the country with a focus on innovation, capitalization, monetization, and growth.

http://www.blackenterprise.com/events/entrepreneurs-summit/

Edmond Jr. said not many people are aware of how they can help their business grow. However, with continued growth and promise, he said he is excited for the  business community to keep making larger strides.

"Access to education and technical expertise-that's really at the core of a successful business ownership," said Edmond Jr. "When one rises we all rise."