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Showing posts from 2017

You're against hatred, bigotry and stupidity?

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That's funny..SO ARE WE!

Why we need a Global ICO Census and Database

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The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) recent report defines tokens sold through ICO offerings as “securities.” This is neither appropriate nor in the public interest. This definition will restrict the ability of startups to raise much needed capital without having to go to commercial banks, investment banks and venture capitalists, institutions who long ago abdicated their role in providing capital to deserving startups and small businesses. (Commercial banks, investment banks and venture capitalists focus on providing capital to a narrow group of non-minority and non female firms. As Uber and others (Google?) have shown, many of the women who dared work for these commercial bank, investment bank and venture capitalist supported firms found themselves harassed..and we know what happened when they sought funding.)

In a press release, the SEC concluded that anyone using "..distributed ledger or blockchain enabled means for capital raising (needs) to take appropriate steps…

SEC takes jab at startups while leaving the big banks alone

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The Securities and Exchange Commission’s concern about “initial coin offerings” is understandable. There are significant problems in the ICO marketplace, but new markets always have issues. Unfortunately, the SEC’s recent restrictions defining the tokens sold through such offerings as “securities” completely miss the point and once again will constrain the ability of startups to raise much-needed capital without having to go to a bank or venture capitalist first.

See: https://www.americanbanker.com/opinion/sec-takes-jab-at-startups-while-leaving-the-big-banks-alone

Senator Bob Corker at the Post, John Ray, Impact Investing Analyst, Georgetown University, Master’s in Finance

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On Wednesday, July 26th, I watched as Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) sat down with David Ignatius of The Washington Post to discuss the current foreign policy environment in the United States. Part of the Post's “Securing Tomorrow” Series, Senator Corker, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, answered questions on Congress’ attitude towards a variety of foreign policy concerns.

The major takeaways from the event include Corker’s firm stance on the need for congressional review of Presidential actions, his continued praise for Secretary Tillerson and President Trump’s cabinet, and his belief that sanctions on both Russia and Iran are absolutely vital pieces to American foreign policy.

Corker's bill not only enhances sanctions on Russia and Iran, but also limits the president’s ability to lift sanctions currently imposed.  Mr. Corker believes very strongly in increasing Congress’ role in foreign policy when it comes to sanctions and his bill does just that.

Interes…

Disinformation in the Internet Age (IGF-USA) by Kari Nelson, Impact Investing Intern, University of Virginia

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On Monday July 24, the Internet Governance Forum USA (IGF-USA) was held in Washington D.C. This event featured “panels, keynotes, and plenaries discussing issues vital to the continued growth of the Internet and increasing its benefits for all,” as described in the program for the day. I attended two sessions during IGF-USA, and wanted to share some highlights from each.

The first session I attended was a plenary session titled, “Nationalism, Disinformation and Free Expression in the Age of the Internet.” As it was described in the program, this panel examined:
•“How the internet ecosystem allows nativist content & movements to flourish & increasingly silos people
•“How content is weaponized & disinformation used in politics
•“How to ensure free expression with any proposed solutions.”

Conversations exploring these issues are extremely important, especially in light of the Russian misinformation campaign during the 2016 election. We should continue to have these discussio…

Branchless Banking Roundtable by Zhuoxi (Austin) Wu, Impact Investing Analyst

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On July 24th, I attended a Branchless Banking Roundtable discussion sponsored by the Financial Services Innovation Coalition (FSIC) at the Rayburn House Office Building in D.C. 
Panelists include the Co-Founder of BankMobile, Luvleen Sidhu, Founder of Creative Investment Research, William Michael Cunningham, and the founder of HBCU Wall Street, Torrence Reed. The moderator was the founder of FSIC, Kevin B. Kimble. During the hour-long discussion, they discussed issues related to the inefficiency of bank branches, the problem of bank transaction fees, and how newly developed technologies can change people’s way of banking.
The discussion kicked off with agreement among the panelists that bank branches are no longer a necessary part of people’s banking experience. Based on statistics, bank branches are, on average, only getting one account opened each week per branch, which equals 52 accounts opened a year at each branch. Apparently, the influence of bank branches on people’s banking h…

CIR Interns at the U.S. Federal Blockchain Forum

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An inter-agency forum for executives across the federal government to learn about advances in Blockchain technology, discuss use cases and set an agenda for working together to evaluate and implement it among our diverse missions.
The U.S. Federal Blockchain Forum is a program of GSA’s Emerging Citizen Technology program, organized in partnership with the Secretary of State’s Office of Global Partnerships and GSA’s Office of Information Technology Category.

Yellen at the Senate Banking Committee by Kari Nelson, Impact Investing Intern, University of Virginia

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On July 13, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs met in open session with the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Honorable Janet L. Yellen, for“The Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress.” I attended this hearing and this blog post shares my reaction as well as some analysis.
Despite the fact that the hearing was supposed to be about monetary policy, the Senators mostly questioned Yellen about regulatory issues. Republicans have been pushing for widespread rollbacks of Dodd-Frank financial regulations, so this is not surprising. This regulatory theme was apparent from the beginning, with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), the Chairman of the Committee, asking Yellen to affirm that she believes Congress needs to act on some areas of financial reform and that the Fed would work to make suggestions to the Committee, both of which Yellen readily agreed to. The ranking Democrat, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), quickly responded by pushing …

Seed Spot Demo Day: A Night of Excitement, Passion, and Social Impact

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On July 14th, 2017, Seed Spot hosted their first ever demo day for their Washington, D.C. location. Seed Spot is a nonprofit organization, based in Phoenix, AZ., committed to supporting social entrepreneurs through education and investment.

They did not disappoint.

At core, Seed Spot embraces entrepreneurs seeking to solve social problems, regardless of the entrepreneur's race, gender, age, or socio-economic background.  Seed Spot's dedication to the D.C. area was on full display as well, with the CEO and many board members in attendance.

Their dedication to inclusion and excellence was also on vivid display at the magnificent Warner Theater in downtown Washington on Thursday night, with nine truly remarkable DC-area startups being showcased to a packed crowd. The startups on display completed Seed Spot's 14-week accelerator program.

These businesses are more than just individuals with a dream or good idea.  Each startup had a strong team complete with a board of director…

Black Business Index & Survey

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We are conducting a survey of Black Business Conditions as we prepare for our Texas Talks (see above). Note that you do not have to be either in Texas or a Black-owned Business to fill out this survey. In fact, we prefer to have a range of business owners respond. We are, however, specifically focused on the Black business sector in Texas.

To view and complete the survey, please go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NCVQLLL

Thank you!

Senate Banking Committee Hearing on Fostering Economic Growth by Kari Nelson, Impact Investing Intern, University of Virginia

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Soon, it may be easier to be a Wall Street Bank. We knew that one of President Trump’s central campaign promises was to dismantle the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (LA Times)— passed after the 2007-2009 financial crisis to prevent similar crises from occurring—but that didn’t necessarily mean anything major was going to happen. Campaign promises go unfulfilled all the time (*cough* the Wall *cough*). Now, the Trump administration seems to be moving to follow through on dismantling Dodd-Frank. With that in mind, we take a look at developments in this area over the past few weeks to see what changes are likely in the near future.

On June 8, there was a surge of excitement (either out of fear or joy, depending on your perspective) when the House passed the Financial Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs Act, which would repeal many of Dodd-Frank’s banking reforms (CNBC). Then, everyone calmed down a bit and realized …

State of Black Business Report - Dallas 8/22

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The State of Black Business will inform members and community leaders on the climate, condition, and trends of African American business.  The Keynote Speaker, Economist William Michael Cunningham, is the founder of Creative Investment Research and serves as Managing Partner for National Crowdfunding Services. The Forum is a critically important forum to discuss and design a plan for greater economic impact within our communities. You will want to join this discussion with black business leaders from around the city!
Invitees to this event will include elected officials, corporate sponsors, community leaders, DBCC Board of directors and select Chamber members.
August 22, 2017
Cityplace 2711 N. Haskell Dallas, Texas 75204 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
State of Black Business Registration:  (Early Bird Special) $75 Member/$100 Non-Member http://dallasblackchamber.org/current-events/state-of-black-business-forum/

“Scared to Death” - Scandinavia and the US by Austin Wu, Impact Investing Analyst, University of Maryland

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On June 27th 2017, the House of Sweden, located on the banks of the beautiful Potomac River, hosted the Speakers of the Parliaments of Sweden and Latvia, the President of Parliament of Norway, along with Derek Cholett, the Executive Vice President at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and Kurt Volker, the executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership, to discuss challenges in Northern Europe and how to face them in partnership with the United States.

The seminar focused on the possible withdrawal of the United States from NATO, and how the Scandinavian countries would be left vulnerable to potential military aggression and geographical expansion of Russia in the near future, should the close relationship between President Trump and President Putin hold true. One key point the speakers all agreed upon is this fact: a great nation needs great neighbors. As Russia sits in close proximity to the Scandinavian countries, the Scandinavians are all looki…

The Trouble with Economics by Sahil Grover, Impact Investing Intern, University of Virginia

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On June 20th, 2017, the Brookings Institute invited Alan Blinder, Representative Jamie Raskin, and Former Representative Vin Weber to discuss the "Lamppost Theory" – the tentative title for Blinder’s new book that seeks to explain why economic policy often comes up short. Held in the Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy, the discussion began with Blinder explaining what the book title means. Blinder’s main argument is as follows: “Politicians use economics the way a drunk uses a lamppost – for support, not illumination”
Blinder believes that the reason economists and politicians have not had success working together to create effective policies is because they hail from two completely different “civilizations”. He believes both parties share blame for past policy failures and must learn from each other. Blinder argues that economists and politicians measure success differently, using a completely different set of criterion to make decisions. Economists tend to us…

Liberty Bank, SBA and US Black Chamber Loan Guarantee Program by Kari Nelson, Impact Investing Intern, University of Virginia

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On Wednesday June 14, New Orleans-based Liberty Bank, a black-owned bank, announced that it is partnering with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Black Chambers (USBC) to guarantee loans for black business owners.

The groups hope this partnership will boost access to capital by solving one problem many black business owners experience – they cannot get capital when they need it. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2014 only 47% of black business owners who requested funding from banks got the full amount requested, compared with 76% of whites. Statistics such as this are discouraging, and black business owners feel disheartened by the situation – with 57% of black business owners who don’t seek capital citing fear of being rejected as their reason. The credit gap is obviously a huge issue for black business owners and there is a lot of room for improvement in how banks and the Government address the issue. This new initiative by Liberty Bank with the SBA is an a…

“Stay Faithful”: Senator Cory Booker at the U.S. Black Chamber by Austin Wu, Impact Investing Analyst, University of Maryland

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During today’s (6/14/17) U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce meeting, I had the honor of listening to a very emotional yet encouraging speech by the junior United States Senator from New Jersey, Senator Cory Booker.

Senator Booker attended Stanford University, where he played college football and received a Bachelor of Arts in political science, along with a Master’s degree in sociology. Later, he attended the University of Oxford and upon returning to the United States, earned his Doctor’s degree from Yale Law School. He was the 36th Mayor of Newark, in office from October 2013 to July 2016.

Despite his outstanding background, both academically and politically, he never moved out of his neighborhood, a small and crowded black neighborhood in Harrington Park, New Jersey.

His parents, Carolyn Rose and Cary Alfred Booker, were among the first black executives at IBM, and the tradition of excellence his parents represents makes Senator Booker believe that, given the opportunity, black childr…

The Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center by Sahil Grover, Impact Investing Intern, University of Virginia

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When discussing some of the America’s most innovative cities and areas, Washington DC does not immediately come to mind. Despite serving as our nation’s capital and being home to the world’s most powerful government, DC has been known to lag behind other metropolitan areas in the tech space. In an effort to showcase some of the exciting progress being made around the District, Atlantic Magazine teamed up with The Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center to co-host The Game Changers, a two-part discussion panel led by Washington Editor-In-Chief Steve Clemons. The event was underwritten by Microsoft. Videos of the discussion can be found here.

The first part of the discussion focused on sourcing innovation and comprised of 3 speakers:

Dana Grayson, Partner, New Enterprise AssociatesMaria Rose Belding, Director, MEANS DatabaseShane Scranton, CEO, IrisVR
These three served as excellent examples of the unique ways to becoming a leading innovator. Though each speaker had very different backgr…

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) at the Washington Post by Kari Nelson, Impact Investing Intern, University of Virginia

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On June 7, as part of The Washington Post’s recurring series Securing Tomorrow, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, sat down with David Ignatius of The Washington Post to discuss the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion or ties to the Trump campaign. I was in the room for this interview, so I’m going to try to answer the most important question: What important things did we learn from this interview?
Rep. Schiff commented on former FBI Director James Comey’s description of President Trump’s behavior in a written statement submitted by Comey on June 7, which included the President describing the Russia investigation as “’a cloud’ that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country,” and asking what the FBI “could do to ‘lift the cloud.’” Schiff called this behavior “certainly evidence of interference or obstruction.” This is important. As we know from Watergate, obstruction o…

“Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?” by Austin Wu, Impact Investing Analyst, University of Maryland.

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Meeting at Atlantic Magazine with Graham Allison: “Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?”

Definition: "Thucydides Trap" refers to a situation in which a rising power causes fear in an established power ultimately escalating to war.”

As President Trump’s tenure begins, the relationship between the United States and China is surrounded by an provocatively intense atmosphere with topics like: the trade deficit between the United States and China, whether China is a currency manipulator, and how China should be responsible for control of North Korea’s weapons. Addressing the potential for war between the two nations in his new book, on June 1st, The Atlantic hosted a discussion with Graham Allison, currently Director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affair and a leading analyst of U.S. national security and defense.

The discussion started with the latest news that the United States will walk away from the Paris Climate Agreemen…