AEO 2018 National Microbusiness Conference • April 30 – May 2, 2018 • Detroit, MI REGISTER NOW




Sessions and events are being finalized — check back often for updates!


MONDAY, APRIL 30, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Main Street Live: A Live Streamed Entrepreneurs’ Roundtable with Journalist/Author Rochelle Riley

In collaboration with the Michigan District Office of the SBA, AEO is proud to host this interactive forum, featuring local business owners. You’ll hear from Detroit’s rising entrepreneurs, who will share their “How I Built It” stories, as well as perspective on Detroit’s redevelopment movement. Moderated by award-winning journalist Rochelle Riley, business owners will share personal stories of resilience, define challenges in the face of a changing economic landscape, and give an assessment of the needs to secure a sustainable future outlook. The roundtable will kick off our celebration of the SBA National Small Business Week with an appearance from Melinda Emerson (@SmallBizLady), small business pundit and author, who will share insights from her new book, “Fix Your Business.” This live stream event will feature a Q&A from attendees and a national digital audience. Additionally, entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to receive small cash investment awards from AEO to advance their business. Free registration is available to join this SBA National Small Business Week kick-off event.

MONDAY, APRIL 30, 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Closing the Digital Divide in Small Business: What’s in Scope for CRA Investment

Please join us in this free special luncheon forum for community development finance and small business professionals, including CRA officers, bankers, CDFIs, and government agency staff. This event will feature engaging conversations that will shine a spotlight on opportunities to use CRA investment as a tool to bridge the digital divide among small businesses. The session begins with remarks from Anna Alvarez Boyd, Senior Associate Director of Community Development, Policy, & Research Federal Reserve Board of Governors, followed by a presentation from Jordana Barton of the Dallas Federal Reserve to present a framework for addressing the digital divide within the guidance of CRA.


Annie Donovan, Director, CDFI Fund/Treasury Department will lead the next panel discussion on the CDFI Fund Innovation Challenge and its role in creating opportunities and incentives for changes to the status quo in CDFI small business lending. Panelists include Barry Wides, Deputy Comptroller for Community Affairs, OCC, along with representatives from JPMorgan Chase, Woodforest National Bank, and Legacy Texas Bank. This stellar lineup of experts will explore how bank participation in a referral marketplace like myWay to Credit can qualify for CRA credit and fit within the digital divide solutions framework.




9:00 am – 2:30 pm   

SMA Network Meeting 

11:00 am – 2:30 pm   

AARP Foundation 50+ Entrepreneurship Grantee Meeting

11:00 am – 2:00 pm   

Main Street Live: A Live Streamed Entrepreneurs’ Roundtable with Journalist/Author
Rochelle Riley

11:00 am – 2:30 pm 

Closing the Digital Divide in Small Business: What’s in Scope for CRA Investment?

4:00 pm – 6:30 pm     

Official Conference Kick-off  


Welcome Remarks

4:00 pm – 6:30 pm    

Main Stage Innovation – The Revolution Will Not Be Monopolized: Visions of an Inclusive Digital Economy in the 21st Century

4:00 pm – 6:30 pm    

Main Stage Investment – Making Tax Reform Pay

4:00 pm – 6:30 pm    

Main Stage Inclusion – Taking Center Stage: An Unfiltered Conversation on Women’s Entrepreneurship

6:30 pm – 8:30 pm    

Conference Welcome Reception


7:00 am – 8:00 am    


8:00 am – 8:40 am

Fearless Women!

8:40 am – 8:50 am 

Main Stage Announcements: Announcing Partnerships and Member Opportunity

9:00 am – 10:30 am

smalltalk Working Groups

10:30 am – 11:00 am

Networking Break

11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Breakout Sessions view Tracks here

12:30 pm – 2:30 pm 

For Impact Sake: The Luncheon Forum

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Networking Break and dessert

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

smalltalk Working Groups

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm 

Innovation for Main Street: Announcing the myWay to Credit Launch!

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Conference Reception

6:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Runway Project Hip Hop Business Competition  


7:00 am – 8:00 am


8:15 am – 9:30 am

Breakout Series

9:45 am – 11:45 am

Time’s Up: Go BIG! Investing in Black-owned Businesses

11:45 am – 12:00 noon

Call to Action and Conference Closing


The detailed agenda is forthcoming. Here are highlights of what will be covered, along with special features.

Working Groups

Based on the highly successful model used at CGI America (Clinton Global Initiative) meetings, Moving Main Street Forward Working Groups will consist of a number of topic-specific groups, each bringing together 60-120 diverse industry attendees. Each group will convene several iterative sessions over the course of the conference to share knowledge and insights, build partnerships, identify what more is needed and generate action on topics including:

People and Practice —best practices and high-impact work within specific demographics of business owners.

  • Returning Citizens
  • 50+ Business Owners
  • Youth Entrepreneurs
  • The Gig Economy

Resilient Local Economiesapproaches that are making a difference when place matters for business owners.

  • Gentrification and How Small Businesses Can Win
  • Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Rural Communities
  • Making a Place-based Impact Investment Ecosystem Work

Business Growth and Sector Strategies for Job Creation —strategies to increase business growth, job creation, and opportunities for growth in specific sectors.

  • Hot Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Food and Agriculture
  • Investing in Innovation through Supporting the Arts and Culture Economy

Maximizing the Momentum of Women Entrepreneurs—unleashing the economic potential of women entrepreneurs.

  • Creating Opportunity for Women in the Supply Chain
  • How Networks are Serving Women Entrepreneurs

Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions are being curated and designed to help us explore emerging ideas and best practices, including:

  • The Future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Applications for Reimagining Technical Assistance
  • Improving the Financial Health of Business Owners
  • Ecosystem Approaches for Achieving Greater Impact
  • What Everyone Needs to Know About the Gig Economy
  • Taking Advantage of the Shifting Landscape of Banks as They Go Digital
  • Invest2Innovate
  • Funder Insights on Microfinance Impact
  • Funding and Innovation for Black Business Development
  • Building Ecosystem Partnerships with Consumer Lenders to Support Small Business Owners
  • And more!

Runway Project Master Class Series

These Master Classes will feature intimate conversations with well-known investors who are having a big impact on entrepreneurs from underserved populations. Get to know the people behind the leaders, and hear firsthand how their hopes, ambitions, and even failures have led them to where they are today. You’ll leave inspired and ready to supercharge your organization’s impact!

Runway Project is a program creating new systems for friends and family capital for Black entrepreneurs, and is incubated by AEO.

Mainstage Panel Discussions

The Moving Main Street Forward Mainstage will engage prominent pioneers and new leaders in exciting conversations around our key themes of inclusion, innovation and investment. These are plenaries you will not want to miss!

Breakfast RISE!

Jump-start your day by fueling your brain and feeding your soul at this roundtable breakfast.

Lead Sponsor

Plenary/ Major Event Sponsor

Core Insight Sponsors

Main Street Sponsors


Conference Supporters

Conference Partners



For general inquiries, please email