BEFN: A New Networking Space for Black Equipment Finance Professionals
“The event’s theme, ‘forging inclusive excellence in equipment finance,’ set the tone for the group’s mission to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the industry,” said George Parker, Co-CEO at VenSource Capital LLC.
Newly formed in January, the Black Equipment Finance Network (BEFN), is a non-profit organization focused on increasing the attendance of black professionals in the equipment finance industry. While providing network opportunities for people in the industry, the organization assists in promoting business collaboration, industry support and outreach, professional development, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) advocacy.
“I think the industry, given the mixer that we had last week in San Diego, is poised for [even more growth]. Many people showed up in support of what we’re looking to do,” said Lovern Gordon, National Sales Executive at Boston Financial & Equity Corp. “And that was a huge, huge, huge show of a vote of confidence that we’re headed in the right direction.”
The organization recently had their first inaugural mixer to kick off NEFA’s 4-day event, last week in San Diego. Filled with members and allies, the mixer dedicated a one-hour block to networking with people of color (POC).
“It was the most people that I and many others in the room have seen in terms of numbers for black people in the equipment finance industry in one space ever,” said Gordon.
For many POC, working in equipment finance can feel intimidating as the field is predominately a white-male led industry. The network is an all-around safe space for people that share in their likeness while being able to address issues of feeling left out of conversations or not feeling understood by their peers. The leadership team alongside Gordon (Secretary/Director), consists of George Park (President), Nancy Robles (Director), Kareem Jernigan (Treasurer/Director), Andre Olaofe (Director), and Eric McGriff (Director).
“This is a long overdue group of primarily black and people of color professionals in the equipment finance industry, that have just come together to form a small group within the industry to create an awareness of the black professional in the equipment finance industry,” said Andre Olaofe, President at Select Funding.
An active member of BEFN will typically attend monthly virtual meetings, have the option to be on panels, opportunity to come to regional and national events, advocate for laws and policies to improve within the industry, have access to the member directory, and mentorship.
“I’m on the steering committee,” said Cheryl Tibbs, CEO at Equipment Lease & Co. “The steering committee, we meet to set the agenda for the organization for our meetings. Just really to set the agenda for the group.”
The support from non-POC peers in the industry has been fantastic, Gordon explained. Several sponsors such as Dedicated Financial GBC, Wells Fargo Capital, North Mill Capital, and Wintrust Specialty Finance attended and donated, which contributed to pulling the mixer off. Tibbs noted the overwhelming response of non-black professionals that wanted to be involved who also saw a need for DEI within these organizations.
“The president of the National Equipment Finance Association, the board members of NEFA, the other members for funding sources, other brokers, all welcomed the group in San Diego, and came out to the mixer,” said Olaofe, “and were actively involved in at least sharing in the celebration of coming together and this inaugural mixer.”Last modified: March 30, 2023
Anaya Vance is a reporter for deBanked. Connect with me on LinkedIn.