WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, hosted a summit titled, “Closing the Wealth Gap through the African-American Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” today. Other Members of Congress in attendance included: Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-Pa), Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY), and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).


The summit focused on issues that impact African-Americans who own small businesses and who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs. Specific issues included:  access to capital; preservation and transferal of wealth; contracting; credit unions; private-public partnerships in government as well as historically black colleges and universities; and the access to information gap.


“Improving the African-American Entrepreneurial Ecosystem is about making America stronger. When we find strategic solutions to fix all parts of the economy, then the entire economy improves,” said Senator Landrieu. “An entrepreneurial ecosystem is defined as ‘a system formed by the interaction of a community with their environment’ and I look forward to finding legislative solutions to fix the racial wealth gap that hinders the African-American Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. I am determined to help eliminate this disparity.”


Full video of today’s summit = LINK


Participants included:


  • The Honorable Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner  
  • The Honorable Marie Johns, Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration
  • The Honorable Kasim Reed, Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Georgia  
  • The Honorable Marc Morial, President & CEO of the National Urban League
  • Mr. Ron Busby, President of the U.S. Black Chamber, Inc.  
  • Ms. Miriam Brewer, Director of Education and Diversity at the International Franchise Association
  • Mr. Doyle Mitchell, President & CEO of Industrial Bank and Chairman of the National Bankers Association Board
  • Mr. Kevin Hicks, Partner of Blackman and Associates Franchise Consulting Firm and multiple restaurant franchise owner
  • Dr. James L. Llorens, Chancellor of Southern University and A&M College 
  • Dr. Thomas “Danny” Boston, CEO of EuQuant and Professor at Georgia Tech University  
  • Mr. Bill Bynum, CEO of HOPE (HOPE Enterprise Corporation/HOPE Credit Union)
  • Ms. Lezli Baskerville, Esquire, President & CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
  • Ms. Bridgeja’ Baker, Owner of Creative Jewelry by Bridgeja’, LLC