1:45pm | Non-Traditional Funding Models

Panel Description: In 2015 the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report called Black women the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. In 2016, the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express, stated that women are the fastest growing group in entrepreneurship, with the number of women-owned firms increasing by 45 percent between 2007 and 2016. And yet, women CEOs only see 3%. Women of Color CEO's see even less (at .02%). There are systems in place that do no support some of our most underrepresented populations and traditional funding cannot be all things to all entrepreneurs. Join us for conversation with organizations approaching this funding desert with innovative and community-based initiatives.


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Nina Robinson

Social-impact investment professional with tech start-up background. Specialized in convening and raising growth capital for mission-driven entrepreneurs that build a more equitable economy. Experienced with raising philanthropic and traditional investment, crowdfunding and Title III investment, and growing financially sound businesses.

Interested in Social Entrepreneurship, Impact Investing, Specialty Food, Local Manufacturing, Economic development, Sustainability & Food Justice in low-income communities, Social Justice, Art, Music, DJ, Culture. Event Production. Technology & Digital Music & Media Platforms.


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Rani Langer-Croager (Co- Founder of Uptima Business Boot Camp) is also on the Runway Project team! The Runway Project was founded in order to solve  the friends and family seed funding gap for African American entrepreneurs.


Laurie O’Hara is the Director of Business Development for Working Solutions. Laurie opened the North Bay satellite office in downtown San Rafael in 2012. Working Solutions won the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year 2015. She brings over 20 years experience in marketing and acquisitions of credit products, having worked as a Director for JPMorgan Chase and Citibank in New York City.


Flor Melara, Senior Vice President- Relationship Manager, Main Street Launch. Flor manages Oakland Launch’s lending department. She specializes in client development, loan packaging, and establishing strategic alliances with community partners. She is also responsible for reviewing and underwriting all Oakland lending activity including SBA Community Advantage, SBA microloan, and other Oakland specific microloan loan products. Flor is a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Business Leadership Award recipient. She holds a BA in Business Economics, BA in French and Francophone Studies, and an MBA from Mills College. Flor came to Main Street Launch after managing the Financial Services Department at the Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment for five years. She is an expert in domestic microfinance and empowers entrepreneurs to build sustainable financial infrastructures to achieve small business start-up and expansion goals. In 2011, Flor was elected by the California State Department’s Partner’s Program to participate in a Business Fellowship Program for a month in Mexico DF.