Exploring SBA and the Innovation Economy

Last year, the Small Business Association (SBA) did roughly 34 billion dollars in loans across the country. Yesterday, Elevate Ventures had the privilege of hosting a Fireside Chat featuring Dilawar Syed, the Deputy Administrator of the U.S. SBA. Partnering with our friends at Centerfield Capital Partners, 16 Tech Innovation District, IEDC  and others the event delved into the nexus of SBA initiatives and its role in fostering entrepreneurship and innovation.

From Tech to Public Service 

As the conversation kicked off, Dilawar shared his remarkable journey from the tech industry to public service. With a background deeply rooted in Silicon Valley and experience as CEO of multiple companies, Dilawar transitioned to the SBA with a profound belief in the fusion of business acumen and public service. His commitment to leveraging operational skills for societal impact underscored the importance of individuals from diverse backgrounds contributing to government agencies like the SBA.

Global Perspectives on Innovation

Drawing from his extensive travels to 24 countries in 15 months as Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs for the State Department, Dilawar highlighted the global admiration for U.S. entrepreneurship and innovation. Despite facing stiff competition, U.S. businesses command respect worldwide for their transformative ideas. However, Dilawar emphasized the imperative for American entrepreneurs to engage actively in international markets, advocating for a proactive approach to sustain our global leadership position in business.

Equity and Inclusion in Entrepreneurship

A central theme of the conversation revolved around equity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. Dilawar’s insights shed light on systemic barriers faced by minority-owned businesses, underscoring the SBA’s commitment to fostering equitable access to funding and resources. Historic reforms aimed at addressing disparities underscored the agency’s proactive stance in championing underrepresented entrepreneurs.

“We have, Indiana, a wonderful state with more than half a million small businesses… only 1,750 black-owned businesses [have] employees. That’s not a lot and it gives us a reminder that even though we’ve seen trends and there’s a focus on our efforts, we have a lot of work to do.” – Dilawar Syed

Educating and Inspiring the Next Generation

Reflecting on the imperative of entrepreneurship education, Dilawar emphasized the power of mentorship and community support in nurturing aspiring entrepreneurs. Learning from each other’s experiences and inspiring confidence in diverse communities emerged as critical strategies for fostering entrepreneurship.

Dilawar Syed provided a compelling glimpse into the relationship between the SBA, entrepreneurship and the innovation economy. From highlighting innovative changes to SBA programs to championing equity and inclusion, Dilawar’s insights underscored the transformative impact of collaborative efforts in fostering entrepreneurship. As Indiana continues to embrace a culture of innovation, Dilawar’s vision resonates as a guiding beacon for driving inclusive economic growth and prosperity.

Thanks to our event partners at Centerfield Capital Partners | TechPoint | 16 Tech Innovation District | Indiana Economic Development Corporation | AgriNovus Indiana | Central Indiana Corporate Partnership | Conexus Indiana | BioCrossroads