Association for Enterprise Opportunity Names Microbusiness Champions Awardees

May 19, 2014

Association for Enterprise Opportunity Names Microbusiness Champions Awardees
Trade Group Names Five Honorees at Annual Conference in New Orleans

Washington, D.C., May 20, 2014 – Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)— the voice of the U.S. microbusiness industry — announced microbusiness Champion honorees recently during its 2014 annual National Conference, The Power of Microbusiness: Aligning for a New Economy. The awards saluted leaders who support microbusiness and microbusiness owners in New Orleans (NOLA), where the 2014 convening was held.

“AEO is excited to have hosted the Microbusiness Champions Awards program as a way to showcase microbusiness as a vital industry, and also microbusinesses, which are the heart of America’s—and New Orleans’—economic and employment health. AEO research shows that these small but mighty enterprises create a variety of economic impacts, producing gains for families that cut across racial, ethnic, and gender lines,” said Connie Evans, president and CEO of AEO.

In particular, the awards recognized NOLA business leaders who’ve waged their support of Prosperity NOLA, a living, actionable plan created to drive economic growth across five key industries to increase wealth and quality job opportunities for Orleans Parish residents  

AEO and Prosperity NOLA share common goals: drive job and wealth-creation opportunities — asure path to that end is microbusiness.

There are 25.5 million microbusinesses in America. Although these businesses account for 92 percent of all U.S. businesses, and contribute to employing 41 million individuals, economic inequities and deficient standards for inclusion hinder many owners from accessing the critical services and capital they need to start or grow their businesses.  Due to far-reaching systemic economic and social disparities, Main Street entrepreneurs in particular most often encounter near-insurmountable hurdles around capital and services.

AEO used the Microbusiness Champions Awards as a platform to highlight the industry’s import; the group hosted the awards in NOLA, Evans said, because of the city’s focus on diversity and inclusion as growth tools.

Phyllis Cassidy, founder and executive director of NOLA’s The Good Network, and an AEO Director, notes the awards program presents a platform to lift up microbusiness as a tactic to influence job creation in the Parish.

“The Microbusiness Champions Awards honor people and organizations in our community that have been leaders in promoting microbusinesses as an important element of New Orleans’s economic growth strategy.  These champions truly understand AEO’s research that shows if just one in three microbusinesses added one additional employee, the nation would be at full employment,” Cassidy said.

Evans and Cassidy said the 2014 Awards also celebrated the collaboration among New Orleans’s public and private sectors to focus not only on promoting small and microbusinesses, but also on leveraging the talent in minority owned businesses as an economic growth strategy.

Click here to read the 2014 Microbusiness Champions categories, awardees and nominees. Click here to read more about AEO and microbusiness.

Microbusiness Champion Award CATEGORIES
(Winners noted in blue)

Corporate Supplier Diversity Programs:  This category recognizes a private corporation with an established Supplier Diversity Programs with dedicated staff.  Criteria for selection include: 1) impact on local small and microbusinesses 2) support for equity as a growth strategy; and 3) contribution to development of microbusinesses.

o   Entergy

o   Chevron

o   Harrah’s New Orleans/Caesar’s Entertainment

Local/Regional Organization:  This category recognizes a local or regional organization that has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting and supporting microbusinesses.  Criteria include 1) impact on local small and microbusinesses; 2) support for equity as a growth strategy; and 3) contribution to development of microbusinesses.

o   Idea Village

o   Women’s Business Enterprise Council South

o   South Region Minority Supplier Development Council

Supplier Diversity Innovation Award:  This award recognizes organizations for their innovative approaches to diverse supplier development.  Criteria for selection include: 1) positive impact of innovative approach on outreach to diverse suppliers; 2) approach’s effect on corporate supplier diversity processes; 3) increased participation of local and small microbusinesses.

o   Regional Transit Authority 

o   Good Work Network

o   New Orleans LA Business Alliance    


Local/Regional Individual Excellence:This category recognizes a local or regional individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting and supporting microbusinesses. Criteria: 1) Individual works in New Orleans or the region; 2) Individual has long history of championing supplier diversity on various fronts.

o   Barbara Major

o   Phala Mire, South Region Minority Supplier Development Council

o   Jo Ann Lawrence, Small Business Administration

o   Vaughn Fauria, New Corp

Microbusiness:  This category recognizes an outstanding microbusiness that has championed the cause of equity and inclusion and demonstrated outstanding performance as a small business. Criteria for selections include:  1) owner operated; 2) has had revenue of less than $500,000 in the last four years; 3) has grown as a result of supplier diversity programs.

o   Cool Fruit Sensations,  Don Harding

o   Spears Consulting Group, Cleveland Spears

o   Bissap Breeze, Esailama Diouf and Tyrone Henry


Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)
is the national trade association for U.S. microbusiness and microfinance. We are the voice of microbusiness in the United States. AEO’s Alliance represents a broad and diverse membership network that has helped millions of entrepreneurs contribute to economic growth while supporting themselves, their families and their communities. Together, we are working to change the way that capital and services flow to America’s underserved entrepreneurs—on Main Street and beyond—so they can start, grow and hire.


If one in three Main Street microbusinesses hired just one employee, America would reach full employment.

AEO report data show microbusinesses, although small, in the aggregate, have a significant influence on job creation by contributing to the employment of 41.3 million individuals — approximately 31 percent of private sector employment.
Despite their impact, microbusiness owners often meet tremendous hurdles when trying to access requisite capital and business-support services. In fact, according to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, 8,000 small and microbusiness credit application are declined each day in America. The need for credit is indisputable, as is the disparity in loan approvals for underserved entrepreneurs.

Microbusinesses are powerful – In 2011, 92 percent of U.S. businesses were microbusinesses, and generated approximately $4.87 trillion annually for the U.S. economy.

Microbusinesses are vehicles for self-sufficiency for their owners – they allow their owners to accumulate a median net worth of nearly 2.5 times higher than non-business owners.

Microbusinesses are a key driver for America’s employment and economic health If one in three Main Street microbusinesses hired just one employee, America would reach full employment.

Microbusiness is an important path to key self-sufficiency, wealth-building and job creation.

If entrepreneurs cannot acquire capital and other resources to start or develop, then the heartbeat of Main Street USA slows, jobs are not created, the vibrancy of communities dim, and the wealth chasm widens.

Share this...