minority-owned and controlled small business investment companies, which he says hasn’t been done in the past 20 years.
“The SBA hasn’t had any interest in licensing those companies. Many competent firms have applied, only to be denied,” he says.
Given the critical state of the nation’s economy, Robinson says he’s soberly optimistic about the future for minority business, and it’s important to be realistic about what can be accomplished. But as financial bailouts continue to dominate the news, he adds, minority entrepreneurs should be demanding that their services be used to help get the economy back on track.
“Congress has been allowed to waive limits as it relates to minority business participation in the bailout. We ought to be demanding full participation at all levels. There are many minority businesses out here that can provide meaningful participation, such as correcting levels of subprime lending and asset management, including unbundling derivatives and securities to get to the heart of the subprime lending problem and managing the assets of banks that have failed,” he says.
Many entrepreneurs, Forbes adds, are experiencing an adverse trickledown effect of the turbulence in the financial markets.
“You rely on your clients to pay you, but if you’re not paid on time you can’t repay the banks. So there’s a domino effect and many business owners may now have a lower credit rating than they did prior to the crisis. There needs to be some focus on how we deal with that,” he says.
Help may be on the way. An economic stimulus package introduced in Congress this week includes several small business assistance proposals, such as $620 million to provide greater access to SBA loans.
“Of that money, $615 million would temporarily eliminate fees charged to borrowers and lenders who participate in these government-backed programs, helping to support $22.5 billion in loans to entrepreneurs,” says Mass. Sen. John Kerry, who chairs the Senate small business committee.
“Additionally, $1 million is provided to support $8.5 million in microloans and $4 million for microloan counseling. These actions would free up credit, give small businesses more outlets for help and allow firms to create and retain jobs in these tough economic times.”