Hi, everyone. It’s an honor to join you today. I want to recognize Deputy Secretary Graves for the tremendous work he and his team have done to bring this event together and to develop Commerce’s Business Diversity Principles Initiative.
At Commerce, our number one goal is to improve America’s competitiveness so our workers and companies can succeed in the global economy. We’re placing equity at the center of everything we do – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s essential to our success. We fail to meet our full potential as a nation unless we harness the talents and strengths of all parts of the country, including women, people of color, and others who are too often left behind. The Business Diversity Principles Initiative is going to be key to meeting those goals.
Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America, we’re making investments in new technologies and cutting-edge industries. I’m focused on ensuring we have a skilled, diverse workforce that can fill the hundreds of thousands of jobs we are creating.
Our CHIPS for America and Internet for All programs will create benefits for startups, workers, and socially and economically disadvantaged businesses, including those that are minority-owned.
But as a former venture capitalist, I also know that it’s far too difficult for minority entrepreneurs to access the capital they need. Just look at the numbers. Last year, Black entrepreneurs received only 2% of all VC funding in the U.S. For Black and Hispanic women, it was less than half a percent. This lack of access to capital is holding back too many minority entrepreneurs, and it’s holding back our economy.
That’s why I’m so proud of the work that MBDA is doing under the leadership of Under Secretary Cravins, including the $125 million Capital Readiness Program to help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs launch and scale their businesses – the largest investment to support underserved entrepreneurs and businesses in Commerce Department history. MBDA and our Economic Development Administration are also focused on ensuring that minority business enterprises can successfully navigate the federal procurement process.
Deputy Secretary Graves and I are also committed to ensuring that the Commerce Department is fostering a diverse and inclusive environment where all employees feel valued and supported. We’re working with outside organizations to aid recruitment efforts and continue longstanding relationships with minority-serving institutions. We’ve also released our Equity Action Plan to guide us in these efforts, and we’ve appointed our first-ever Counselor for Equity to ensure we deliver on our commitments.
Most importantly, we need you. We want to hear your concerns, and we want to work with you to ensure that the work we’re doing at Commerce is bringing benefits to everyone in America. So, thank you again for being here. It’s an honor to be doing this work alongside you.