AEO 2018 National Microbusiness Conference 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: An Unconventional Conference Tour

We’ll be kicking off Moving Main Street Forward by taking it to the streets — literally! Join in and celebrate Detroit’s burgeoning small business evolution by touring a neighborhood Main Street that is undergoing significant transformation. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with small business owners, city residents, local officials and entrepreneurial ecosystem builders as they reflect on gentrification, progress on investment taking place in their city and whatever else might be on their minds. We’ll make sure you get lunch! More details to come.

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

Strengthening the Credit Ecosystem for Small Businesses Forum

This invitation-only event will gather community development finance and small business professionals, including CRA officers, bankers, CDFI small business lenders and government agency staff, for a discussion on myWay to Credit, AEO’s customer referral marketplace that harnesses the power of technology to connect small business owners to mentors and credit options from community lenders when their bank can’t serve them directly.




1:00 p.m. Registration Opens
4:00 p.m. Welcome and Keynote
4:30 p.m. Mainstage Presentations
6:00 p.m. Welcome Reception


7:00 a.m. Registration Opens
7:00 a.m. Breakfast RISE!
8:15 a.m. Working Groups
10:30 a.m. Breakout Sessions
10:30 a.m. Master Class Series
12:00 p.m. Plenary Luncheon
2:30 p.m. Working Groups
4:30 p.m. Innovation Launch Pad
5:45 p.m. Evening Reception


7:00 a.m. Registration Opens
7:00 a.m. Breakfast RISE!
8:15 a.m. Mainstage Presentations
9:30 a.m. Breakout Sessions
11:00 a.m. TIMTalks
12:00 p.m. Policy Luncheon
1:00 p.m. Town Hall on Investment in Black Businesses with TV Personality
3:00 p.m. Conference Closes


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 segments of business owners.

  • Returning Citizens
  • 50+ Business Owners
  • Youth Entrepreneurs

Place: Resilient Local Economies — approaches that are making a difference when place is especially significant.

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

Sector Growth Strategies for Job Creation — strategies to increase job creation in specific sectors.

  • Food and Agriculture
  • Arts and Culture

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 super-charge 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



For general inquiries, please email