May 19, 2016

The Association for Enterprise Opportunity conference offers three days of opinions, innovations and analysis that will help sustain and grow small businesses


WASHINGTON - The Association for Enterprise Opportunity’s EconoCon25 conference will engage public and private sector leaders in discussions on how the changing economic landscape provides challenges and opportunities for the nation’s smallest businesses. More than 500 industry executives and decision-makers, microfinance practitioners, small business advocates, and fintech influentials are expected at the conference held May 18 to 20 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

“Our agenda for EconoCon25 is progressive, forward thinking, and inclusive,” said Connie Evans, President and CEO of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO). “The experts, lawmakers and policymakers that we have assembled are poised to engage in discussions that will help determine the future of Main Street and neighborhood businesses. We will showcase solutions and a series of groundbreaking research reports that will shed light on issues that reinforce the ongoing relevance of our industry to the U.S. economy.”

At 3:15 pm on Wednesday, Treasurer Rosie Rios will deliver the Keynote Address in the Regency Ballroom on how entrepreneurship can drive financial inclusion.

Other key sessions during the conference include:

A session on reimagining technical assistance to scalable, sustainable and high impact guidance for Main Street and neighborhood business owners will be held Wednesday at noon in the Columbia Ballroom and Foyer. Lunch will be provided at the discussion that will unveil new tools that business owners can use to guide their businesses towards a successful future. Participants are innovators in their respective areas:

  • Tameka Montgomery, Associate Administrator, Office of Entrepreneurial Development, U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Jill Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL)/Workshop In Business Opportunities (WIBO)
  • Daniel Delehanty, Chief Program and Strategy Officer, Grameen America
  • Nancy Stark, Sr. Manager, Community Development Banking, Capital One
  • Arturo Noriega, Executive Director, Centro Community Partners
  • Jeanne Wardford, Program Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Connie Evans, AEO (Moderator)

The launch of the new TILT Forward network at 5:05 pm Wednesday in the Regency Ballroom. Tilt Forward is an AEO program that develops scalable product, capital and marketing solutions for CDFIs, and other community and non-profit lenders, that serve Main Street and neighborhood business owners. AEO will unveil a new network, the largest lending collaborative of CDFIs in the country.

Presentation of the Silver Anniversary Awards and luncheon on Thursday at noon in the Regency Ballroom. AEO’s success wouldn’t be possible without the help of supporters and funders over the years. Join AEO for the presentation of awards that honor those whose support has been critical to our mission of expanding microbusinesses and improving the quality of life in underserved communities. The honorees are:

  • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
  • Robert ( Bob) Friedman
  • Kirkland Ellis

Session on the challenges faced by African-American owned businesses and identifying the solutions that can help Main Street businesses thrive will take place on Friday at 9 am in the Regency Ballroom. The roundtable will discuss solutions to barriers faced by many black owned businesses, including difficulty in accessing credit. The panelists are:

  • Doyle Mitchell, President & CEO, Industrial Bank

  • Natalie Cofield, Founder & CEO, Walker’s Legacy; Founder & CVO, Urban Co-Lab
  • Jessica Norwood, Executive Director, The Emerging ChangeMakers Network
  • Donna Gambrell, Owner, Donna Gambrell Enterprises
  • Stefanie Thomas, Senior Associate for Investments, Impact America Fund
  • Roland S. Martin, Host/Managing Editor, NewsOne Now, TV One (Moderator)


(To schedule a print or broadcast interview with AEO’s Connie Evans, please contact Michael K. Frisby at or 202-625-4328.)

About Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)
The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) is the voice of innovation in microbusiness and microfinance in the United States. For 25 years, AEO and its more than 450 member/partner organizations have helped millions of entrepreneurs contribute to economic growth while supporting themselves, their families and their communities. AEO members and partners include a broad range of organizations that provide capital and services to assist underserved entrepreneurs in starting, stabilizing and expanding their businesses. Together, we are working to change the way that capital and services flow to underserved entrepreneurs so that they can create jobs and opportunities for all. Learn more about The Association for Enterprise Opportunity at

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