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The Inclusive Economy

CFED Renews Focus on Entrepreneurship; Endorses Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights

By Harold Pettigrew and David Newville on 10/01/2015 @ 10:00 AM

Tags: Entrepreneurship, Federal Policy, News

In August, a coalition of think tanks, small business advocates and nonprofit and industry lenders and brokers launched the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights at an event in Washington, DC. In recent years, the number of alternative non-bank sources of financing for small businesses has rapidly expanded. In many cases, this has proven beneficial to the growth of small businesses, but there have also been negative consequences. Most notably, basic consumer protections are often not in place for these alternative types of loans, causing abuses of entrepreneurs’ rights as business owners in some cases and pointing to the broader need for consumer protections. Given CFED’s ongoing commitment to building small business as a driver of the American economy, we are proud to endorse the Bill of Rights as an important first step in addressing the challenges facing small business owners throughout the country.

For over three decades, entrepreneurship has been central to CFED’s strategy for building an opportunity economy for all Americans. Small business can be a key platform for building wealth. Entrepreneurs create jobs—even if only their own—while contributing to community-wide and nationwide economic activity and resilience. At the individual level, entrepreneurs contribute significantly to household financial security for themselves and for future generations by generating income, self-sufficiency, economic mobility and wealth.

At the same time, business owners’ financial capability can be a major determinant of their success in generating long-term financial stability for their households. Although small business ownership in the United States is a major source of household wealth, we know that many low- and moderate-income households led by business owners struggle to generate enough income to build a safety net, grow their balance sheets or accumulate transferrable wealth. Furthermore, we understand that business success is a combination of a feasible business idea, an entrepreneur with the capability to execute on that idea and access to the financial resources to bring it to fruition. Too often, otherwise savvy entrepreneurs are unable to see their ideas become reality because the small business financing cards are stacked in favor of lenders, not borrowers.

As CFED works to build a national strategy for expanding the financial capability of small business owners, the launch of the Borrowers’ Bill of Rights is a critical first step. With the Bill of Rights as a roadmap, CFED intends to build partnerships with key stakeholders to advocate for federal, state and local policies to combat abusive lending practices; convene government, private sector and community practice leaders to further national dialogue on the growth and practices of alternative lenders; and elevate innovations and practices designed to increase the financial capability of low- and moderate-income small business owners.

In the coming weeks, we look forward to sharing more about our evolving strategy to empower owners of small businesses to be champions of the opportunity economy. In the meantime, if you have questions or thoughts, please share them with Harold Pettigrew, CFED’s Director of Entrepreneurship, at hpettigrew@cfed.org.

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