On Tuesday (May 16), Vice President Kamala Harris will convene with over 35 young men of color—comprised of entrepreneurs and small business owners—to offer resources and discuss strategies for economic empowerment. This engagement is the latest in a series for Harris, who has completed several of these events both at the White House and on the road over the last few months.
According to a White House official, the summit will center the distinctive needs of this particularly vulnerable population. “It’s building upon [Harris’] work in small business,” the source tells The Root. “Since her time in the Senate—even before that—Harris has been really focused on making sure small businesses have the resources they need to kind of grow and to contribute to our economy.
“The purpose of this engagement is to not only hear from young men of color but to make sure they’re aware of the resources that our administration has provided and will continue to provide. The plan is to bring them to the table...to [have them] be a centerpiece in our policy and economic vision going forward.”
The engagement, which will be taking place at the White House, will feature members from the Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency, and representation from the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI). The Administration launched a whole-of-government effort to increase by 50% the share of federal contracts for minority-owned small businesses in 5 years.
This amount will equate to a $100 billion investment in minority owned businesses. Designer Brandon Blackwood, therapist Kier Gaines, Chef Samo Frais and IEMBE founder Travis Terry are all scheduled to speak to the event to discuss their experience of business owners as well as the importance of self-awareness and mindfulness. The White House official expounds on the Vice President’s agenda.
“Harris will definitely talk about the role of community lenders. During her time in the Senate, she got $12 billion secured for these lenders that specifically invest in minority women, rural, small businesses and communities. [Harris] makes sure they are well resourced because of their ability to really provide access to capital for businesses in underserved communities.”
The summit will highlight sources of funding available for technical assistance, mentorship and the development of business plans. In March, the Black unemployment rate hit a historic low which is a direct correlation to the diligence of the Biden/Harris administration. “Their economic plan is working...they’re creating jobs, we’ve seen near low record unemployment,” the White House official states.
“We always feel like there’s more work to do, especially for our Black men in our community, to ensure that they have the resources and the ability to contribute to the economy. And with these businesses, we are seeing them turn challenges into opportunities.” What makes Harris so effective in this space, the source claims, is her ability to connect to those that she is working so hard to uplift.
“The Vice President—when she talks to small business owners and entrepreneurs—she really sees them. I think that’s just such an important approach to this. She always says the best way to support a small business is to support the owner.” The official adds: “Given the role that these young Black men play as pillars in their community, it’s all the more important to recognize them and their unique role in our society.”