Panel + Q&A (*Maximum 4 Panelists)

Small Businesses Recovery post COVID for Black and Brown Entrepreneurs

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What does the COVID recovery look like for small businesses, particularly those owned by entrepreneurs of color?  And is it even accurate to call it a recovery when what is really needed is a transformation of a system that has failed these underestimated entrepreneurs?


This panel will take an uncompromising look at the challenges faced by entrepreneurs of color as they seek to grow and build value for themselves and their employees in the wake of COVID19 and nationwide protests.  Panelists will discuss what the journey looks like, how long it takes to gain traction and build the value of a company, and what tools and support business owners need to remain resilient and reach their full potential.  In particular, panelists will examine the role of patient, flexible, impact-driven capital in unlocking growth for small businesses so that entrepreneurs of color can create good jobs and wealth building opportunities for their employees.


The panel will feature perspectives from an impact investor (Justina), a CDFI, (Allison), and an entrepreneur (Lila).

Confirmed Panelists

Justina Lai–My goal is to harness the power of capital to create meaningful social and environmental impact while applying the discipline and rigor of conventional investing. Wetherby’s deep commitment to impact investing and organizational values alignment offer a powerful platform through which I can better serve current and prospective clients in taking a holistic approach toward driving the social and environmental change they wish to see in the world.


Before joining Wetherby in 2015, Justina was a Director and Senior Investment Analyst at Sonen Capital, a San Francisco Bay Area-based impact investing firm. In that role, she led the development and implementation of impact investment strategies across the private markets and supported the launch of a fund focused on global sustainable real asset opportunities. Earlier, Justina helped manage the Rockefeller Foundation’s Program Related Investments portfolio comprised of global impact investments in private equity and private debt. She also helped advance and shape the Rockefeller Foundation’s grantmaking strategy as it related to building the field of impact investing. Prior to her career in impact investing, Justina spent several years in investment banking with Citigroup and private equity with Vestar Capital Partners in New York and Paris. Outside of her work at Wetherby, Justina serves on the Board of Directors for both Turning Green, a student-led global movement focused on promoting positive environmental and social actions, and ICA Fund Good Jobs, an organization focused on engaging, advising and investing in small businesses that support economic empowerment and create a more equitable community.

Allison Kelly– is the Chief Executive Officer of ICA Fund Good Jobs. She is responsible for leading the growth and impact of the organization in order to meet the needs of the region’s small business community. Allison has over 20 years of expertise in small business advising, lending, and economic development and she is passionately committed to equality and community empowerment.

Prior to joining ICA Fund Good Jobs, Allison was the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at CDC Small Business Finance (CDC) responsible for charting the course and developing the products and services needed to ensure that CDC continued to meet the needs of growing small businesses. She also spent seven years in various leadership positions at Pacific Community Ventures, a nonprofit social enterprise focused on helping small businesses thrive through affordable capital and free business coaching. Allison currently serves on the Board of Donor Digital and is an active member in the economic development field in the San Francisco Bay Area and nationally through the Opportunity Finance Network.

Lila Owans–Cupcakin’ Bake Shop is the realized vision of owner Lila Owens. She started a home-based cupcake catering business in 2007. But the ultimate goal was to open a cute little bake shop where she could showcase her passion for baking to a larger audience. Lila wanted a fun culture, adorable décor and artisan baked goods made from high quality, sustainable ingredients. With the awesome support of some key people in her life Cupcakin’ Bake Shop became a reality with the opening of the Berkeley, CA location in 2014.

With it’s unique, creative and eco-friendly culture, Berkeley proved to be the ideal place for Cupcakin’ Bake Shop to take root. As an advocate for sustainability and the natural and local food movement, Lila found Berkeley to be the perfect place to set up shop.

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