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A new report issued by the
National Community Reinvestment Coalition found large, unsettling inconsistencies in lending patterns for small businesses starting in the years following the Great Recession. The report, Small Business Lending Deserts and Oases, outlines the ways in which access to credit for small businesses is affected by geographic and demographic characteristics. Although overall lending to small businesses plummeted during the Great Recession, women and African-American owned small businesses were found to be disproportionately affected, along with small businesses located in the Midwest and the South. Importantly, the NCRC found that counties with little access to Women Business Centers (WBCs) or Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) had the lowest rates of lending for small businesses. The report spanned both the private sector and federally funded lending, painting a comprehensive picture of the barriers that small business owners are facing today.

The NCRC made several recommendations for leveling the playing field when it comes to small business loans, among them increasing the number of WBCs and CDFIs in the so-called "lending deserts". The NCRC also recommended additional research, especially on the lending patterns in the private sector. Although this report affirms the findings of studies before it, it sheds a new light on both the geographic and demographic disparities in small business lending, and confirms the need for proactive programs such as WIPP's Women Accessing Capital program. 

The report was funded through the WE Lend Initiative, established by the Sam's Club Giving Program to increase access to capital for women entrepreneurs. WIPP partners with NCRC on the WE Lend Initiative, which also is assisting Women Business Centers in becoming micro-lenders and preparing standardized financial education curriculum for women business owners utilizing these Centers. 

Today we live in a world in which women get paid less than men for the same job, are underrepresented in certain sectors of the economy, and represent the smallest fractions of civic leadership; yet the world for the next generation of women could be very different. To that end the White House has announced the Equal Futures challenge - an effort to promote four key objectives: advancing women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields; expanding economic security for survivors of domestic violence; promoting civic education and public leadership for girls; and enhancing opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

 

Secretary Clinton has garnered world-wide support and partners in this initiative. The United States is joined by twelve other founding members of the United Nations: Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal and Tunisia, along with the EU. Each have made national commitments to policy, legal, and regulatory reforms that would promote expanded civic and economic opportunity for women.

 

Currently only five percent of the world's heads of state are women and domestically the numbers are not much better. Less that 17 percent of our representative body is comprised of women, with 17 women in the Senate and 73 in the House of Representatives.

 

As part of an effort to reach out to young women and girls, this initiative will provide educational background on the structure of local, state and federal government and guidance on how girls can get involved at every level. The 'Start Young' program, designed to provide an early path to entrepreneurial success for young women, will also be expanding from 3 to 10 cities.

 

In a salute to our women in uniform and all they have to offer, the White House will also expand its 'Boots to Business' program in the Spring of 2013, to offer over 40,000 veteran women access to the training and resources they need to start own business.

 

Encompassing all generations the White House will also be joining forces with the AARP to offer retired women targeted training to start their own business.

 

While these programs offer assistance and training to American women of every age, the idea that America's girls deserve the same opportunities and prospects as boys is a propelling force behind this program. Through initiatives like this we can ensure a brighter future for the next generation of American women, which will not only ensure a healthier private sector but also pave the path toward a more prosperous civil society.

 

For more information about this initiative click here.

 

#WIPP

By Lisa Gable, Executive Director of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation

1963 was a critical year for African-Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King led the March on Washington. President John F. Kennedy called for a Civil Rights Act. African-American leaders intensified their organizing efforts aimed at strengthening their communities.

One of those efforts was the 100 Black Men of America Inc. It brought together community leaders to explore ways of improving conditions in their community.

Black History Month is a good time to mark the work of 100 Black Men of America. One of their goals is to promote wellness, especially reducing childhood obesity. A member organization of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, the organization is committed to promoting energy balance - taking fewer calories-in and expending more calories out through physical activity.   

Battling obesity is not easy, especially where recess and physical education classes have been cut back. 100 Black Men's dedicated vehicle for pursuing energy balance is called Youth Movement, a program that helps students improve their heath, develop long-term goals and overcome obstacles and achieve lifetime success, by providing an outlet for physical activity, along with nutritional education. Volunteer nurses and coaches bring equipment and assess health and fitness levels at participating schools. After-school and weekend programs offer track and field clubs, athletic training and clinics facilitated by Olympians and world-class athlete volunteers.
Black History Month is a time to pay tribute of the power of community to better lives. 100 Black Men, Inc.'s efforts to improve wellness and reduce obesity among young people is an important part of that.


Today, by request of the U.S. Department of State, WIPP President, Barbara Kasoff, joined by WIPP Board Member Dr. Ann Blackburn, met with the Honorable Katalin Csobor, a Member of Parliament for the Republic of Hungary.  Hon. Csobor, a former small business owner, was appointed to the Committee for Human Rights, Minority, Civil and Religious Affairs.

Kasoff, Dr. Blackburn and Hon. Csobor discussed women in politics and their impact on public policy. They focused on diversity issues, specifically concerning leadership and advocacy for minority and women business owners. Moving forward, Kasoff, Dr. Blackburn and Hon. Csobor will continue to collaborate for the wellbeing of women business owners.

Click here to view a picture.

I recently read an article featured in the Huffington Post by Susan Solovic, CEO/Co-Founder of SBTV.com titled "Workplace Stereotyping: A Silent Productivity Destroyer", and it made me contemplate stereotyping factors in the workplace. One initially thinks of more obvious factors such as: race, gender, religion - but in reality: workplace diversity is much broader.

Additional factors in the workplace could include:

- Single vs. Married

- Children vs. No Children

- Baby Boomer vs. Generation Y

- Women - Married and Marginalized

- Domestic Lifestyle Choice

Stereotypes result in a damaging work environment - and all of the above factors listed could potentially harm your ability to work with others. As a business owner myself (WIPP), I pride myself on creating an open and productive work environment, where my employees can respect the diversity of everyone in the organization.

To read Susan's complete article, click here.

 

 

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