Opening Remarks at Conversations on Raising Capital for Businesses of Color at Morehouse College
Oct. 24, 2019
Thank you all for taking the time to be here today to kick off homecoming by talking about one of my favorite topics: supporting entrepreneurs and investors. As Richard [Best] mentioned, our office is a new independent office that began operations in January 2019, focused on issues surrounding emerging companies’ access to investor capital, from start-up all the way to companies that have gone public. One area of specific focus for our office is identifying unique challenges faced by women- and minority-owned businesses in accessing investor capital and proposing regulatory solutions. Rather than wait for people to find out about our new office and come to Washington, DC, we have instead been reaching out and engaging with thought leaders we want to hear from. The success of Atlanta-area entrepreneurs and investors in supporting diverse talent has had our attention long before today,[i] and we’re thrilled to be here at Morehouse College in the Atlanta University Center for what I hope is the first of many conversations. Planning today’s event required collaboration from a broad team too many to name, and I owe special thanks to Henry Goodgame and Dr. Tiffany Bussey from Morehouse; Richard Best, Roderick Goodwin, and Mark Youdell from our Atlanta Regional Office; our Office of Public Affairs team; and extra special thanks to Colin Caleb from our own office.
From the moment we discussed partnering with Morehouse for this event, our office appreciated that there is something special about the community that Morehouse is part of—from the connection you have with your neighbors Spelman and Clark Atlanta to the bond you share with other HBCUs that are preparing students for careers as entrepreneurs.[ii] This, coupled with the magnet that Atlanta has become for all individuals, particularly persons of color, looking to start or migrate businesses, and the resources that can be found here made it clear that there’s no better place or better time to have this discussion. This community and today’s panelists are making a clear statement that inclusive and diverse entrepreneurship and small business investing can and should thrive, and I hope we as regulators can take back some lessons that can help us support entrepreneurs and their investors nationwide. I look forward to learning more from your experiences and how you are choosing to not accept the status quo, but are decisively creating own models for success.
Today we want to encourage frank and open discussion. So please know that nothing anyone says today should be taken as legal or investment advice; if you are selling securities you need to consult a lawyer. And disclaimer for any SEC staff speaking today: views expressed today are our own and do not reflect the full Commission,[iii] and I’m sure the same goes for each of our speakers and their respective organizations. That’s enough of lawyerly disclaimers. It is now my pleasure to kick off our first panel on “Entrepreneurs and Investors’ Success Stories Building Businesses,” to be followed by our second panel on “Leveraging Your Resources as Entrepreneurs, Small Businesses, and Investors.”
[i] The same notoriety for Atlanta’s entrepreneurial scene has captivated the attention of many others. See, e.g., Jessica Guynn and Nicquel Terry Ellis, “Goodbye, Silicon Valley, Hello, Atlanta: Black Entrepreneurs Part of New Migration to South,” USA Today (Mar. 10, 2019), https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2019/03/10/bye-silicon-valley-black-entrepreneurs-part-new-migration-atlanta/2982120002/.
[iii] The Securities and Exchange Commission disclaims responsibility for any private publication or statement by any of its employees. This speech expresses the author’s views and does not necessarily reflect those of the Commission, the Commissioners, or other members of the staff.