Nicole Elam on access to funds for minority and women entrepreneurs

Thought leaders sit down with WorkingNation Overheard at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2022

Historically, people of color and women have more difficulty accessing capital, says Nicole Elam, president and CEO, National Bankers Association – an association of minority-owned and operated banks across the country.

WorkingNation sat down with Elam at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2022 in Beverly Hills.

With just over 140 minority depository institutions (MDIs) around the country, Elam says access is available for people regardless of where they live. “The good news is that people are becoming more and more engaged with mobile banking and technology. You’re able to access minority banks even if one isn’t down the street, but the distinguishing factor about minority banks is that they are sitting in and serving your communities. Even though there may not be one next door to you, we are certainly focused on making sure that they have the technology so that they are accessible,” says Elam.

She says such institutions are key to helping create drivers of wealth, noting access to financial services, home ownership, and small business ownership.

Elam says there are several ways that mainstream financial institutions can support MDIs, “The first is around financial support whether it is a direct equity investment, investing in an equity fund that is investing in minority depository institutions, grant funding.”

“The second way is revenue generating business opportunities. The third is around digitization. Technology is expensive. And as a small bank, technology costs are just too big.”

Learn more about the National Bankers Association.