Recap: 2020 Virtual Small Business Finance Forum

Caroline Valvardi

Updated July 7, 2020

On June 16 and 17, OFN held its ninth annual—but first-ever virtual—Small Business Finance Forum for more than 800 mission-driven lenders, partners, and other advocates. This year’s event marks OFN’s largest Forum to date, doubling the size of the 2019 Forum in Chicago! We are grateful to our Lead Sponsor, JPMorganChase, and additional sponsors: MUFG Union Bank, Santander Bank, Wells Fargo, and Woodforest National Bank.

Featuring two plenaries, eleven breakout sessions, five “Meet a Small Business” demonstrations by CDFI-funded businesses, and a Partner Showcase, the 2020 Forum focused on ensuring a shared recovery for financially underserved small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, economic decline, and persistent racial inequity. Speakers from across the CDFI industry, federal government, and major corporations joined us to lead insightful discussions on critical issues CDFIs and the small businesses they serve are working to overcome.

Stay tuned for an announcement in the coming days about our recap website where you can view all event content until July 2021. In the meantime, here’s what you missed or may want to revisit. You can also check out event photos in our Facebook album.

Highlights from the 2020 Small Business Finance Forum:

  • OFN President and CEO Lisa Mensah kicked off the Forum with a welcome address. She set the tone for the event, stating, “Persistent poverty didn’t just happen. Racial injustice didn’t just happen. It’s been a systemic march and it’s time to address inequality once and for all…This is the work we will discuss at this historic Small Business Finance Forum.”
  • OFN debuted a new video entitled “CDFIs Are On Your Side,” featuring testimonials from CDFI-funded small businesses from rural, urban, and Native communities nationwide.
  • Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth Sr. Vice President Marla Blow led an insightful opening plenary discussion entitled “Ensuring a Shared Recovery across America.” Speakers included Representative Dwight Evans (D-PA); Representative TJ Cox (D-CA); Christopher Hollins, Managing Director, Business Banking, JPMorgan Chase; Wendy Baumann, CEO/CVO, WWBIC; and Shanelle Snowden, owner of CDFI-funded small business Legacy Home Health Services.
  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and CDFI Fund Director Jodie Harris shared messages of support throughout the Forum. They highlighted how they’re supporting CDFIs and helping to ensure federal funding flows to small businesses and communities needing it most.
  • This year’s Forum featured eleven breakout sessions focused on four broad topics: The Small Business Experience; Risk Management; Capitalization; and Sustainability. Attendees also had the opportunity to speak with panelists directly during group video chats following each session.
  • Five CDFI-funded small businesses gave attendees an inside look at their day-to-day operations and how they’re overcoming obstacles with support from their CDFI. Featured businesses included Ha.Lé Integrative Health (Pathway Lending), Po Boy Jim Bar & Grill (Wacif), Something Fishy Seafood Restaurant (BBIF Florida), AM Ranch (California FarmLink), and Redbone Logging (Northwest Native Development Fund).
  • The 2020 Small Business Finance Forum closing plenary kicked off with a conversation between OFN’s Lisa Mensah and Alphabet and Google Sr. Vice President & CFO Ruth Porat about growing an inclusive economy. Next, Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, and longtime CDFI leader Bill Bynum, CEO of Hope Enterprise Corporation and Hope Credit Union, capped off the Forum with a discussion about the path forward for CDFIs and investing in the “capillary banking system.”
  • The Small Business Partner Showcase featured eight exhibitors who shared their latest products and services for mission-driven lenders and the small businesses they serve. Exhibitors included Google, CDFI Women’s Network, CDFI Connect, FUND Consulting, LoanWell, Wells Fargo, Santander Bank, and JPMorgan Chase.

Thank you to all who helped make the 2020 Small Business Finance Forum: Virtual Edition a productive, inspiring experience as we work to ensure a shared recovery across America! #KeepCDFIsStrong