Reps. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) held a special Tuesday morning meeting of the U.S. House of Representative’s Small Business Committee in the City Council Chambers.
“The Committee looks at the state of affairs for small businesses all across the nation. It does have oversight over the Small Business Administration, but it also looks at all the issues that affect small business,” said Chu, who is also the lead Democrat on the Access to Capital Subcommittee.
Tuesday’s morning 10 a.m. public hearing examined the challenges faced by entrepreneurs typically under served by the venture capital community.
Many of these businesses are owned by women and minorities, who are very likely to be turned away if they go to a bank for conventional loans.
“I wanted to shine a light on this problem and then of course contemplate some solutions,” Chu said. “One thing that we could look into is an Emerging Managers program. There are so few women fund managers, and this is part of the reason why women get so few funds because, first on, the decision-makers are overwhelmingly men.
“In fact, I was reading an article and it said that female entrepreneurs navigating the world of equity investors find the experience very frustrating when 96 percent of senior venture capitalists are men,” she said.
The hearing also examined some ways to increase access to venture capital funding to small businesses, both in the private sector and through the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program.
“Small business development centers are the best and most effective program of the SBA and what they do is help small businesses develop their business plans and financing, and they do market research for them,” Chu said.
And while the SBA’s Small Business Investing Capital Program dos provide investment for start-up projects, the congresswoman said, women receive less than five percent of those investments.
The public hearing was also a vehicle for women entrepreneurs to tell of their adventures in trying to get venture capital for their start-ups.
Women who have become entrepreneurs in the Pasadena area and shared their experiences during the public hearing, included Jeri Harman, Managing Partner and CEO of Avante Mezzanine Partners, testifying on behalf of Small Business Investor Alliance; Renee LaBran, General Partner at Rustic Canyon/Fontis Partners; Louise Wannier, Board Member of True Roses, Inc.; and Laura Yamanaka, President of Team CFO, Inc., testifying on behalf of the National Women’s Business Center.