AFN Member Conversation, Webinar

Peer to Peer – Challenging Risk & Creditworthiness to Support Entrepreneurs of Color

In 2020, prior to the pandemic, the median net worth of business owners was almost 2.5 times higher than non-business owners, 5 times higher for a Latinx man, and 10 times higher for a Black woman. The COVID-19 Pandemic exacerbated already entrenched wealth chasms, as within the first three months of the pandemic Black business ownership nationally dropped by 41%, Hispanic business ownership by 32%, Asian-American ownership by 26%, and immigrant business ownership by 36%. In comparison, White-owned businesses fell by 17% and were half as likely as Black-owned businesses to close.

Entrepreneurs of color have well known challenges, including capital access, market access, and reliance on personal funds. Historic mistrust in traditional banking not only creates further barriers to access and capitalize businesses, but also makes entrepreneurs of color more vulnerable to predatory lending. These challenges, masked in a narrative of individual failings, are part of an entrenched system rooted in biased narratives about who is credit worthy and who is risk worthy in a broken underwriting system that disfavors entrepreneurs of color. Credit unions and CDFIs have begun to fill gaps and implement sustainable strategies that challenge narratives of risk and credit worthiness with data and pilot-tested innovations.

Please join the Asset Funders Network on Thursday, May 18, 2023 at 1:00-2:15 ET for a member-only discussion focused on funder-driven investments, innovations, and policy reforms that can support small businesses of color. Building on ideas from AFN’s national conference, the session format will include insights from content experts and authentic dialogue across regions:

  • How are our current investments supporting narrative change and underwriting reform to address root causes of credit access for individuals and communities?
  • How can philanthropy best support systems change in underwriting reform and support for entrepreneurs of color?
  • What current policies support or deter safe and affordable access to capital for entrepreneurs of color and how can philanthropy help?  What legal and policy loopholes exist that allow predatory lenders to circumvent interest rate caps?
  • How do we support small business owners of color to shift historic and widening racial wealth inequality?
  • Who is credit worth and worthy of credit risk? How do we fix a broken financial system that have excluded people of color for critical wealth building structures by labeling them as not creditworthy?
  • How are CDFIs, Credit Unions and other players conceptualizing and acting on better ways of deploying capital with different risk assessments that are more inclusive?

Marla Bilonick, President & Chief Executive Officer, NALCAB
Nelly Rojas-Moreno, Chief Operating Officer & Chief Financial Officer, LiftFund

Peer-to-Peer: Advancing an Anti-Racist Economy is a series of member-only monthly sessions centered around AFN’s seven issue areas. Building on critical conversations from AFN’s 2022 National Grantmaker conference, these 75-minute virtual webinars will feature speakers discussing policy and programmatic advances as well as foster authentic dialogue to advance an anti-racist economy.

This session is exclusively for AFN members. Not an AFN member but interested in attending? Please visit our website or reach out to Kristin Rennels, Membership Director ( to learn more about joining AFN as a member.

Accessibility Statement

We encourage people with disabilities to participate in the webinar. Captioning will be provided. If you have any other accessibility requests or questions, please email Kelly Daigle at Requests for reasonable accommodations must be received by May 11, 2023, to ensure our ability to meet your request.