The backdrop for the upcoming Access Granted Conference is framed with this question: “Did you know that Memphis is 63 percent Black and yet Black-owned businesses earn less than 1 percent of all business receipts?”
Vowing to change that picture, the organizers are pitching an opportunity to take “the guesswork out of funding your small business” during the event, which is set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday (May 21) at the Grace House at Graceland, 3600 Elvis Presley Blvd.
The ticketed event – Access Granted: Freedom, Flexibility Pathways to Freedom – is the launch of a 15-city tour designed to “teach undercapitalized business owners and entrepreneurs how to access capital.” The driving force and host for Access Granted is its founder, Seneca Dunmore of Seneca Dunmore Inc.
The presenters include Joann Massey, founding principal of Lewis Massey and Associates, LLC. Massey is the City of Memphis’ former director of Business Diversity & Compliance. Also presenting is Williams D. Brack, vice president of Community Engagement for Regions Bank.
“Wealth is not just about having more money; it’s about having more options,” said Dunmore. “Options create opportunities and opportunities create access.”
Lack of capital is not only damaging to the family unit but also a pervasive unraveling of community, said Dunmore, who asserts that it is possible to stop the unraveling and reverse it.
“Our goal is to position small business owners and entrepreneurs in communities of color with greater economic mobility and self-sufficiency,” she said.
“Black businesses reaching parity with other businesses is not just about individuals, it’s about partnership. That partnership will create the access to capital that this community so desperately needs.”
Massey, whose firm has worked with municipalities nationwide, said, “even when you have diverse and robust entrepreneurial ecosystems like the one we have here in Shelby County it is still challenging for small businesses to navigate.
“Access Granted is structured to take the guesswork out of how to access capital. The information that will be shared will provide invaluable benefits to this community.”
Echoing that access to capital is critical to the success of small businesses, Brack said, “Access granted aims to equip small business owners with the information and tools necessary to prepare to receive capital, prepare to engage lenders and investors, and provide resources that some small business owners may not know exist.”
Small business owners, said Brack, should leave the conference with “critical resources in the short term and tools that will help them gain access and prepare for much-needed capital in the medium and long term.”
Dunmore said Memphis “Black excellence” sharing expertise in various financial sectors also will include Cedric Brooks, principal founder of CMB Capital; venture capital attorney Abraham Williamson, and Shelby County Chancellor William Perry.
(For more information, visit youraccessgranted.com.)