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Growing and Evolving with MMS

Thanks to Susan Brown for this article.

WorkingSolutionsWorking Solutions (WS), based in San Francisco and serving the nine Bay Area counties, joined CAMEO’s Microlending Management System (MMS) last year and put their first deal through the system about eight months ago. Since then, their loan volume has grown significantly. In the year prior to using MMS, WS closed 50 deals. They are on track to double the number of deals this year, about 18 months of being fully on-board the program.

Working Solutions gets a gold star in adopting MMS, but there were some bumps in the road that they had to overcome.

“We had evolved our former loan process over many years. We liked it and we were used to it,” said Emily Gasner, WS Executive Director. “It’s not easy at first to change your process. MMS gave us a push to grow, shift and improve our systems.”

There were several elements to the change.

Integrating Software. While it doesn’t take long to learn the MMS software, it does take time to integrate it into your process.  When staff first touch a deal, they naturally use the old process and tack on MMS at some point in the middle.  It takes time for staff to let go of the old process and start the deal using MMS. Until then, the staff used both MMS and the legacy process. Under these circumstances, staff wonder why they are doing this extra work.   WS leadership led the way, initiating conversations to eliminate the duplication and streamline using MMS.

Risk assessment. WS had historically used an interview assessment process for screening. MMS offers an automated risk assessment process, called Auto Review. It took time getting used to automating a process that was done previously by staff members. Now WS staff start with the risk assessment as the starting point after receiving an application.

Underwriting criteria. MMS is built on an underwriting grid that differed from WS’ legacy process. At first, a different take on the deals was jarring as WS staff were skilled underwriters. Again, with communication and leadership, MMS staff began to learn more about and accept MMS underwriting criteria.

Underwriting process and communications. “We were used to jumping into our own underwriting assessment as soon as we had an application,” said Agnes Cheung, WS Director of Business Lending. “It took time for us to get used to handing it over to the MMS underwriting team, rather than do it ourselves.” WS is now in the process of honing communications with the Accion Texas underwriting team to further speed up the turnaround time.

Online Application. WS recently launched their loan application online, allowing prospective borrowers to apply on their own. This will further reduce staff time on entering the application into the MMS system.

Emily and Agnes also cite CAMEO’s role as liaison, trainer and convener of peer learning calls in assisting in their transition.

Even though the adoption of MMS necessitated many organizational changes, the WS team knew it was something they had to do in light of the new wave of online lending. “Being in the Bay Area, we are in the heart of the online lending explosion,” said Emily. “We needed to automate and turn deals faster to stay competitive.”

WS is leading the way in innovation and technology adoption.

20th Anniversary Recap

20th-anniversary-CAMEO-4c-vertical-smallThanks for Joining CAMEO at our Annual Member Meeting and 20th Anniversary Celebration.

Over 100 people helped us celebrate two decades of micro and building wealth in our communities!  We had a great day of learning, inspiration and fun.  During the morning, we heard about community level factors that are correlated with microbusiness and what that means for policy; we discussed the need for our sector to sit at the economic development table and re-imagine a new collaborative system; and we learned the proof that micro is BIG.  At lunch Judy Wicks inspired us with her story about creating an alternative economic development system by staying in one place, by truly engaging in local economic development.  And of course all of our award winners – Wells Fargo, Scott Hauge, Forescee Hogan-Rowles, Sheilah Rogers, Alfredo Garcia and Patty Rodriquez proved once again why we do the work we do.  And then in the afternoon, members gathered to discuss how to remain calm in the face of the disruption that we face. Finally, we kicked back and enjoyed connecting with our colleagues.

Thanks to our generous sponsors for making this event a success.

Event Sponsors
First Republic Bank, AT&T, Pacific Western Bank

Table Sponsors: CDC Small Business Finance and Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center

Half Table Sponsors: 3CORE, Accion San Diego, Arcata Economic Development Corporation, Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, El Pajaro Community Development Corporation, Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, Fresno Community Development Financial Institution, Opportunity Fund, Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment, The Prosperity Center, Ruby Road Leadership, TMC Development, Valley Economic Development Center
West Company, Women’s Economic Ventures, Working Solutions.

2014 Agenda

Morning Program

The New Labor Market, panel and conversation moderated by Lena Robinson, Regional Manager, Community Development, Northern California, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

20th Anniversary Lunch

  • Keynote: Judy Wicks (bio), author of Good Morning, Beautiful Business of and Co-founder of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)
  • Faces of Entrepreneurship Awards
    • Proclamation Recognizing CAMEO – Assemblymember Jose Medina
    • Micro Business Champion – Wells Fargo Bank
    • Hero of Micro Business – Scott Hauge (bio), Small Business California, founder
    • Founders Award – Forescee Hogan-Rowles (bio), RISE Financial Pathways, President and CEO and Sheilah Rogers (bio), CAMEO co-founders
    • Faces of Entrepreneurship Award – Patty Rodriguez, SF Parking (Working Solutions Client) and Alfredo Garcia, Watsonville Diesel Company (El Pajaro CDC)

Afternoon Program

  • Member Meeting
  • Ignite Micro – Dealing with Disruption
    • Andrew Cole: Truth About California Micro Sector
    • Shufina English: Facts about Banking That Make You Go Hmmm…
    • Naldo Peliks: Stirring Up Entrepreneurial Training
    • Working Solutions: New Partnerships for a New Day
    • Boku Kodama: Creative Curriculum for New Markets
  • Light the Fire! response, a facilitated discussion

Connie Evans Todd Greene dell gines photo Judy Wicks

from left to right: Connie Evans, Todd Greene, Dell Gines, Judy Wicks

Award Recipients
Scott Hauge Forescee Hogan-Rowles Sheilah Rogers

from left to right: Scott Hauge, Forescee Hogan-Rowles, Sheilah Rogers

WIPP Annual Leadership Meeting – 2014

Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) Announces Annual Leadership Meeting for Women Business Owners

Women business owners from across the country will be gathering in Washington, D.C. to grow their businesses, enhance their leadership skills and advocate on key issues impacting the women entrepreneurship community. Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) will be hosting their Annual Leadership Meeting on July 23-24, promising an opportunity to network and cultivate business opportunities with women business owners as well as interact with policymakers to discuss the challenges you are facing in your industry.

As part of our commitment to the women business owners in our network, CAMEO has worked with WIPP on both business education and policy geared towards women entrepreneurs.  WIPP’s Leadership Meeting is packed with programming that will delve into best practices in leadership and public policy issues to watch.

Attendees will be able to interact with policymakers in a special U.S. Senate meet & greet and congressional hearing on women entrepreneurship held by Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.  Additionally, the House Committee on Small Business will be hosting a reception for women business owners in attendance.   If you are interested in improving the economic and regulatory environment for your business and other women-owned businesses, join WIPP on July 23-24 in for the WIPP Annual Leadership Meeting.

To learn more about the meeting agenda and to register, visit

Start Microlending the Smart Way

Start A Microlending Program The Smart Way

Have you’ve been thinking about adding microlending to your TA-lead microenterprise organization’s programs?

Learn how CAMEO’s Microlending Management System (MMS) project can make a microloan program launch more efficient, lower cost and more successful. MMS, an online platform developed by Accion Texas, supports risk assessment and underwriting, as well as several other lending steps. We’ll also cover other elements, beyond MMS, needed to create a microlending program.

Download the slide deck

Listen to the webinar (62 minutes):

About the Presenter

susan-brownSusan Brown‘s job is to provide you with facilitation, guidance, information, support and collaboration to make your work effective, connected to your values and aligned with your goals. Economic justice and values-driven economic development have been her primary focus during her entire professional life.  She brings these long-standing passions to her work along with an eclectic set of life experiences to provide a mature, in-depth perspective to individual and organizational change and growth.

Entrepreneurial Equality

New Tools for a More Inclusive SBA

On June 10, 2014, the SBA Administrator Contreras-Sweet outlined her priorities and goals for the SBA during a speech at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. And for the past few days, more details about specific programs have been issued by the SBA.

She outlined three priorities: be modern, be inclusive, and make new markets. That translates into modernizing the capital access programs with technology; creating a more inclusive SBA by tailoring programs that embrace our nation’s dynamic demographics; and serve as a “market maker” for small companies by opening new business channels within the federal government, corporate supply chains, and international commerce.

For more details, read her full comments.

Thank you, Neera, for that kind introduction and to the entire team at the Center for American Progress for hosting us today.

I recently received a call that would change my life and move my husband and me across the country. Two months ago, President Obama tasked me with three objectives: run an effective SBA, be a strong voice for America’s small businesses, and take the agency to the next level. I embraced this exciting and worthy mission, knowing small businesses are the backbone of our economy.

Small firms make up 99.7 percent of American employers. They generate two out of three net, new private sector jobs and account for half of all private sector employment. The future of our country is truly in the hands of the American entrepreneur.

SBA programs are infusing dollars into local markets to improve the domestic economy. Entrepreneurs inject capital into the economy more quickly as they cover payroll, buy equipment, and acquire real estate. Not only is SBA-backed capital more likely to be spent at home than abroad, but it’s also circulated faster in local communities, spurring more economic activity. With this in mind, I am eager for this opportunity to be leading the SBA.

You see I immigrated to this country from Guadalajara at the age of five, not speaking a word of English. My mother worked at a poultry processing plant so her six children could have opportunities she never had. My life’s journey has been one of seizing opportunities to help my family and build my community.

From grade-school hall monitor, to corporate executive, to California Cabinet Secretary, to bank founder, to now, a member of the President’s Cabinet, I was taught it’s not the titles we have that matters, it’s what we do with the titles we have. I’m living my American Dream. Now, I want every entrepreneur to live theirs.

I joined this Administration because President Obama is committed to providing equal opportunity and creating new pathways to the middle class. I know how committed he is to creating opportunities for small business owners. He has demonstrated this by cutting their taxes 18 times. He has created billions of dollars in tax credits, write-offs and deductions for those who start businesses, buy equipment and machinery, and invest in start-ups. He has made quality, affordable health insurance available to small business owners and their employees. Under this administration, SBA eliminated pages of regulations that were clogging the capital pipeline and causing more problems than they were solving. And we zeroed out fees on loans under $150,000, which has led to a 15 percent increase in our small dollar lending.

In my first two months on the job I have met with our field offices, our program leaders and with stakeholders – in Congress, the business community, our resource partners – all to strengthen our relationships and enhance our programs. Their insights and contributions have been invaluable, and we’ve already begun to act on their suggestions. In my first month, we removed regulatory obstacles to our real estate and equipment financing, and we launched a new national call center for Certified Development Companies to expedite 504 real estate loans.

Today, all of the jobs lost in the Great Recession have been recovered, yet our nation still faces a profound challenge: capital is not reaching small business owners equitably. The face of entrepreneurship is changing in America. More of those faces today belong to women, Latinos, African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, veterans, seniors, and business owners who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Too many in these groups cannot access the requisite expansion capital. Your gender, your race, your age, or your neighborhood should never impact whether you can get a small business loan. Only your creditworthiness should.

At the SBA, we will assure a continuum of support, especially for our underserved businesses.We’ll expand access to our core programs, we refer to as the “three Cs” – capital, consultation and contracting. And it goes without saying we’ll remain focused on our disaster assistance programs, so homeowners and business owners can access our help when they need us the most.

To advance our work on behalf of America’s entrepreneurs, I’m focusing my initial efforts in three areas. First, we will modernize and implement smart systems, so the SBA keeps pace with technological advances that are changing how we do banking and conduct business. To encourage our lending partners to provide more capital to Main Street, we will automate our credit analysis using predictive systems. Second, we will create a more inclusive SBA by tailoring programs that embrace our nation’s dynamic demographics. Third, we will serve as a “market maker” for small companies by opening new business channels within the federal government, corporate supply chains, and international commerce. We will be modern. We will be inclusive. And we will make new markets. This is how we’ll move the dial for entrepreneurs from all walks of American life.

Let’s explore these points more fully. First, we’re going to modernize our capital access programs to the new ways Americans are accessing financial services, and technology is the key. The prevailing challenge we face has been that our loan documentation is too complex and labor-intensive, forcing banks to hire specialized staff or contract it out – or walk away from the loan. We cannot afford to lose these partners and turn job creators away.

The time has come to reach out to all of our lending partners on small loans and bring new lenders into the SBA fold. To augment loan volume and multiply points of sale, I’m pleased to announce that we’re transforming into a smart system guarantee process to serve businesses better. Our Office of Capital Access has been testing and refining a predictive business credit scoring model for more than a decade, combining an entrepreneur’s personal and business credit scores. SBA’s total credit score will make it easier and less time-intensive for banks to do business with the SBA. This model is cost-reducing and credit-based. It ensures that risk characteristics – not socio-economic factors – determine who is deemed creditworthy.

We’re now so confident of our model’s predictive value on small loans that we’re eliminating cumbersome and impeding analyses of a company’s cash flow, a step that can delay loan decisions. Effective next month, I’m directing that SBA’s total credit scoring model be made available to all our lending partners for loans of $350,000 or less. We’re making these changes knowing it will simplify and streamline the lending process and get more small loans into the hands of entrepreneurs, especially the underserved.

We have another transformative initiative in the works: We call it “SBA One.” It’s a new, interactive, user-friendly SBA lending platform. Say goodbye to fax machines and mountains of paperwork. We will automate the uploading of documents and the generation of forms, and we will allow electronic signatures.
On each 7A loan, our core product, SBA One will save banks hours of processing time and thousands of dollars. The combination of SBA credit scoring and SBA One will incent more banks to partner with us, generating more loans and igniting economic activity. By making the process quicker, cheaper and more intuitive, these reforms will help existing lenders do more small-dollar lending.

These capital access improvements lead into my second priority area: tailoring our programs, so the SBA’s efforts are responsive to the diversity of this great nation. On an encouraging note, our lending to African Americans is up 29 percent over the last year. That’s important, because the Urban Institute found that women and minorities are three to five times more likely to be approved for an SBA-backed loan than a traditional loan.

Four out of five loan applications we receive from Hispanic-American and African-American business owners are for $150,000 or less. These smaller loans, then, are a vital part of our promise of equal opportunity in America. If a bank can’t quite say “yes” to a borrower, we’re asking them to partner with a microlender or a Community Advantage lender that can.

Microlenders and CDFIs specialize in providing technical assistance to underserved borrowers. They can spend time with small business owners to make their credit applications stronger. By facilitating partnerships within the lending space, the SBA can build an expanded capital pipeline. A successful microloan can be refinanced into a community advantage loan, which can be refinanced into a low-interest bank loan, helping borrowers build credit. This is one way to provide a pathway to the middle class.

We also have a special obligation to serve those who served us so well: our veterans. They fought for our freedoms, and now many are ready to fight for their dream of starting a business. Our armed forces have a track record of producing outstanding leaders. Veterans own two and a half million businesses that generate more than $1 trillion in sales a year.

This year, the SBA will counsel and train 15,000 transitioning service members through our Boots to Business Program. We’re helping them apply their military discipline and training to their dream of starting a business. America spends an average of $31,000 per service member to get them battle-ready while this program costs an average of $411 per veteran to get them business-ready.

This program has been so popular with our troops and so cost-effective that today I’m announcing its expansion. We’re calling it Boots to Business: Reboot. Starting this summer, in 12 cities across America, we will be opening this program to the 23 million veterans who’ve already made the transition to civilian life. Our first class will kick off at the White House on July 11th.

While our veterans represent an important group for the SBA, the fact is, we offer counseling for all entrepreneurs at every stage of the small business life cycle. We help small businesses start up and scale up, and we provide access to new markets so they can really take off.

Last month at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, I announced a competition to fund 50 local entities that specialize in helping to launch new start-ups. We’re exporting the Silicon Valley model to Middle America to fund business incubators and growth accelerators in underserved communities. But we’re equally committed to helping small businesses that are already turning a profit but haven’t yet made it to the next level.

Ninety-two percent of new jobs come from the expansion of existing businesses. So today, I’m announcing Scale-Up America. We are bringing our successful entrepreneurship education program to up to 14 underserved communities across the country that will benefit from intensive SBA support. We’ll help firms gain market intelligence.

We’ll provide business consulting, and we’ll offer matchmaking with corporate and government buyers. The list of Scale Up communities that we’ll select will be announced later this year. Also, as part of our continuum of capital, the SBA is working to disperse investment capital more equitably.

Last year, about one-quarter of the companies capitalized by our Small Business Investment Companies were owned by minorities, women, or veterans – or those who conduct their business in rural or distressed urban areas. We’re focused on increasing these numbers through sustained outreach and through our Impact Investing Initiative.

But promoting inclusion is not just about gender, race, and socio-economics. One of the biggest demographic shifts affecting small businesses has to do with the fact that we’re living longer. The global population of those 65 and over is expected to triple by mid-century. More and more of our retiring Baby Boomers are starting a second act and finding fulfillment in entrepreneurship. Americans age 55 to 64 are creating nearly a quarter of our new businesses.
With their life’s experiences in their tool box, they are actually building businesses in larger numbers than their youthful counterparts. While there is evidence that our Encore counseling program for the 50+ group continues to be well received, considering the magnitude of its potential impact, a thoughtful examination is warranted about the program’s expansion potential, so that we might enrich their golden years.

Finally, the SBA will be a market maker by opening up new areas of business opportunity for small companies. We will be adaptive to signals in the domestic and global markets, and we will create the conditions for entrepreneurs to secure government contacts, enter corporate supply chains, and export their products globally.

The United States government is the largest procurer of goods and services in the world. The SBA works to level the playing field so the federal government meets its 23 percent small business contracting goal. Federal contracts are the oxygen that helps smaller firms hire and grow, supporting 450,000 jobs a year. And increasingly, these businesses are owned by women.

Women-owned businesses have grown by a remarkable 20 percent in just five years. More than a quarter of our small businesses are now owned or led by women. Currently, women entrepreneurs are considered under-represented in only 83 of the 260 industry categories, limiting their ability to receive federal set-asides. We believe the explosive growth of women-owned businesses will show that many additional industries should be added. So I’ve instructed my staff to conduct a formal study required for the SBA to re-visit the contracting landscape to ensure women have optimal access to the federal supply chain. Another important tool for federal agencies is sole-source authority. I’m encouraging Congress to give federal agencies this tool to level the playing field for women-owned businesses.

I know small firms – including women-owned businesses – can do more than supply the government. They’re ready to be suppliers to large corporations and international markets. Small businesses that secure corporate contracts increase their revenue by an average of 250 percent and increase their hiring by an average of 150 percent.

We know that large companies, utilizing just-in-time inventory replenishment, often struggle to identify a wider array of capable and nimble small suppliers. The American Supplier Initiative links small businesses with private sector, supply-chain opportunities. I’ll work to bring more CEOs into the SBA family and to secure commitments from them to make purchases through small business suppliers, thereby increasing demand for the corporations’ products and establishing symbiotic relationships.

And we will also expand this private-sector initiative to international commerce to help our firms compete globally. The SBA has learned from 30 roundtables and hearings, where we’ve collected small business feedback for use in trade negotiations with Europe and Asia.

Last year, the SBA shattered our record for export finance, supporting $2.8 billion in export sales. I believe we can do even more to help our firms reach the 95 percent of global consumers who live outside of our borders. We’ll continue to support the President’s robust trade agenda, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans Pacific Partnership. And we’ll ensure small businesses have the financing they need to engage internationally.

As you might expect, the banker in me inquires as to the stimulative effect our programs are having and their ROI – return on investment. The ROI on our loan programs is exceptional. Keep in mind: We allow lenders to make loans they otherwise would not. We fill market gaps. Our loans go to entrepreneurs who don’t quite yet meet conventional underwriting standards. SBA has a $100 billion portfolio that’s highly stimulative. Every dollar we inject into the economy is capital that would otherwise stay on the sidelines.

Moreover, every program I’ve outlined today is fully paid for with our existing appropriations from Congress. I know these are difficult budget times. We will measure our success by tracking the revenue gains and job gains that result from these initiatives. Programs that do not deliver on these metrics will be reformed or eliminated. Our largest lending program, 7a, has been operating at zero subsidy for two years. These loans are not costing the American taxpayers a single dime. We know small businesses must do more with less. The SBA should lead by example. An adaptive SBA must be modern, inclusive, and market-sensitive, all the while delivering a strong return on investment to the taxpayer.

The initiatives I announced today are not the end of our conversation but are a good start. We must adapt to smart technologies. We must be responsive to changing cultures, new lifestyles and evolving demographics and psychographics. Finally, we must continue to anticipate and seize what portends for tomorrow’s markets. To repeat, the SBA will be modern, inclusive, and be a market maker for small businesses.

My arrival in this country has brought me untold opportunities. My gratitude is matched only by my motivation to open more opportunities to every American who shares the entrepreneurial spirit. I never imagined that I would be here today. But now that I am the head of the Small Business Administration, I am dedicating myself to making small businesses big businesses. The hallmark of my work will be to foster entrepreneurial equality, preserving our nation’s preeminent role as the world’s leading economy. Let’s make small business a big deal. The SBA’s work has never been more vital. For me, SBA stands for Smart, Bold and Accessible, in every corner of the nation. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Small Business Lending Landscape

Changes to the Small Business Lending Landscape & Referral Fees

Small businesses are the backbone of California’s economy, creating 82% of new net jobs in our state. In order to grow, these businesses need access to capital to purchase supplies and equipment, market their products and hire workers. Despite these businesses’ importance to California’s economic recovery, bank lending to small businesses remains at historic lows. Bank lending to California small businesses is still at only one-third the number of loans made in 2007. Loans to women-owned and minority-owned businesses have fallen by even greater levels.

One proven strategy for serving hard to reach communities is the use of modest referral fees. Referral fees serve as an important incentive for a local business owner to share information on available, high-quality financing with other business owners in their family, neighborhood, industry and/or ethnic community. By modifying the California Finance Lenders Law to allow business lenders to pay referral fees to their clients and partners (for successful business loan applications of $5,000 and above), it is possible to harness existing social capital to bring desperately needed financial capital to low income and minority communities.

Download the slide deck

Listen to the webinar (65 minutes):

About the Presenter

Gwendy Donaker Brown photoGwendy Donaker Brown is Director of Policy and New Initiatives at Opportunity Fund, California’s largest microfinance organization. In her role, Gwendy advocates for federal, state and local policies that help small business owners, college students and working families advance their economic well-being. Gwendy was first drawn to development work when she served as a Fulbright Scholar with the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) in Caracas, Venezuela. She holds a BA in Economics & Public Policy from Pomona College and an MPA in Nonprofit Management from New York University. Gwendy is originally from Berkeley, CA.

2014 Small Business Week Activities

It’s that time of year again! SBA is gearing up for National Small Business Week, May 12-16. And like last year, they’re taking the show on the road to celebrate small businesses across the United States. They’re excited for this year’s activities, which will include forums and panels about trends in small business, innovation, financing, business growth – and more. There will also be matchmaking events and networking opportunities.

The week will kick off in San Francisco on May 12, followed by events in Kansas City, Boston and Washington, DC. They wrap up in the nation’s capital by honoring small businesses from across the country, culminating in the announcement of 2014’s National Small Business Person of the Year.

In addition to the in-person events, the SBA will sponsor several webinars of interest to small businesses.

Check out the full National Small Business Week conference schedule.

Small Business Week 2014 Kickoff @Twitter HQ

The SBA brings together leaders from the small business, government, consumer and high-tech communities to raise awareness for #smallbiz across the nation. They’ll also share exclusive content to help you learn how social media can be integrated into marketing strategies to help drive your business growth.

This event takes place at Twitter HQ in San Francisco and is SOLD OUT. It will be live streamed.

Click here to add your name to the waitlist.

Monday, May 12, 2014 from 7:30 AM to 12:00 PM (PDT)

Matched Savings for Entrepreneurs

AFI and Small Businesses: Helping Entrepreneurs Build Assets

Entrepreneurs benefit from maximizing the equity they can invest in their businesses, but low-income individuals may not have that much to start with. That’s where matched savings accounts like Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) can be helpful. Matched savings accounts – similar to 401(k)s – allow entrepreneurs tobuild capital for their small business. Monthly deposits from participants are multiplied by the matching funds offered, up to $4,000. In addition to accumulating capital, participants establish a history of regular savings that demonstrates creditworthiness that can strengthen their potential for other financing options, such as microloan programs.

CAMEO hosted the AFI Resource Center as they discussed how matched savings programs work and benefit low-income entrepreneurs and microenterprise development organizations. This webinar also showcases the work of a current AFI grantee, the Community Action Partnership (CAP) of Sonoma County, who will share insights on managing an IDA program and supporting low-income entrepreneurs.

Sheilah Rogers, CAMEO Founder

CAMEO is celebrating our 20th Anniversary at our Annual Meeting on June 17th in Sacramento! This year, we’re taking the opportunity to honor our founders, including Sheilah Rogers. Visit the 20th Anniversary page for this years agenda and more information on other speakers and award recipients.

sheilah rogers photo (large)

Sheilah Rogers is a pioneer in international and domestic microenterprise development. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she worked with rural women in Ecuador to build a marketing cooperative that recognized their artistic talents and established new domestic and international markets for their artisan products.

Sheilah is the founding CEO of West Company in Mendocino County, one of the first domestic microenterprise development organizations that focused on low- income women’s economic challenges and their paths to social and economic well-being.

As the leader of West Company, she participated in national initiatives to achieve best practices to bring disenfranchised women into the economy and to advocate for public policies that support their entrepreneurship. She counts 30 years of leadership and advocacy for microenterprise as the sustainable economic development strategy for rural economies.

She is a founder and former board member of CAMEO, the California Association for MicroEnterprise Opportunity and AEO, the Association for Enterprise Opportunity. Sheilah holds a Masters Degree in International Development from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont.

In retirement, Sheilah has focused on one of the Six Targets of Opportunity for economic growth on the North Coast – Specialty Agriculture, Food and Beverage including producers, value added manufacturers, distributors, local vendors. She currently serves on the Mendocino County Food Policy Council, the North Coast Regional Food Systems Network and the Mendocino College Culinary Arts Advisory Committee. Each of these efforts is working to build a sustainable local food system that reduces hunger, increases healthy eating and expands economic vitality.

Research: In Search of Solid Ground

Full_Report_CoverNew Research Broadens Understandings of Microbusiness Financial Vulnerability

Though micro-businesses contribute significantly to nationwide economic activity and their owners’ household balance sheets, many still struggle to make ends meet or build long-term wealth. Today, little is known about how the typical micro-business manages its finances, the major financial challenges they face or which components of financial capability lead them to business success. To begin to bridge this gap in understanding, CFED released a groundbreaking new study titled In Search of Solid Ground: Understanding the Financial Vulnerabilities of Microbusiness Owners.

With support from MasterCard’s Center for Inclusive Growth, CFED launched the study in 2013, surveying 716 micro-business owners from 43 states and conducting phone interviews with 214 owners from two target markets: Miami and Minneapolis. The findings reveal that micro-business owners’ business and personal finances are often inextricably tied, and that they are dealing with significant financial vulnerabilities that reach far beyond access to credit. Among the main findings:

  • Cash flow problems—lacking sufficient liquidity to cover business expenses at the time they arise—are key drivers of financial insecurity for both micro-business owners and their households.
  • Remarkably low short- and long-term savings levels compound these challenges even further, preventing micro-business owners from mitigating income-expense mismatches, weathering emergencies or meeting long-term goals that contribute to greater financial stability.
  • Difficulty accessing appropriate financial products and services, especially credit, also compounds micro-business owners’ financial security: those that are vulnerable for other reasons—young startups, less formal businesses, those generating lower household incomes for their owners, those with fewer employees and minority-owned businesses—are more likely to experience difficulty accessing financial products that suit their needs.

The study’s findings help tell a more nuanced story about what constitutes financial capability and offer new insights into the types of solutions that might resolve micro-businesses’ greatest financial challenges. Going forward, CFED will engage partners in a national dialogue focused on moving from research to action. We hope you will accept CFED’s invitation to stay engaged!

Download the research study and brief from CFED’s Resource Directory today!

Questions? Contact Lauren Williams or Manny Hidalgo.