Skip to Content

Press Releases

VP Harris Joins CBC Chairman to Announce SBA Rule Change for Formerly Incarcerated Business Owners

f t # e
Washington, January 30, 2024 | comments

Vice President Kamala Harris, Chairman Steven Horsford, and SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman toured the Chef Jeff Project, a Black-owned non-profit founded by entrepreneur Jeff Henderson

Photos Available for Media Use

This past Saturday, Vice President Kamala Harris joined Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Steven Horsford and Small Business Administrator Isabel Guzman in North Las Vegas to announce a new SBA rule change to improve pathways to entrepreneurship for formerly incarcerated individuals by eliminating SBA capital program restrictions on Americans who have completed their sentences for past crimes, including Americans on parole and probation. The announcement came during a tour of The Chef Jeff Project, which is a Black-owned, youth-focused culinary non-profit founded by a formerly incarcerated entrepreneur, Jeff Henderson. 

The new SBA “Ban the Box” initiative is a part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s latest efforts to expand access to the more than $700 billion in federal small business contracts to individuals from underrepresented communities, including to those who were formerly incarcerated and disproportionately Black. 

The new rule will: 

  1. Remove most restrictions on loan programs that are based on an applicant’s criminal record, making millions more Americans eligible for SBA loans.
  2. Ban the box on SBA loan applications to stop the chilling effect that criminal history questions have on loan applications.

The CBC has made Black entrepreneurship and access to capital a central part of the Caucus’ work in the 118th Congress and will soon put forward a Black economic prosperity and wealth creation agenda to address and close the Black-white racial wealth gap. The CBC has also recently fought back against attempts to cut access to capital for Black business owners, including a decision by a federal judge in Tennessee to upend a provision in the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program which has threatened billions in government contracting dollars for historically disadvantaged groups. 

“The CBC applauds the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to expand access to federal small business contracts to individuals who have been impacted by our criminal justice system. For too long outdated policies have cut off access to capital in underserved communities, particularly Black communities,” said CBC Chairman Steven Horsford. “Today’s announcement reflects our shared commitment to supporting Black-owned small business owners and expanding access to capital to Black and underserved communities. By finally banning the box on SBA loan applications, we are not just changing policy; we are eliminating unnecessary barriers to entrepreneurship, boosting our economy, creating well-paying jobs, and generating Black wealth.” 

Today's announcement reflects both the White House and the Congressional Black Caucus’ ongoing commitment to supporting Black-owned small business owners and expanding access to capital to Black communities. Traditionally, eligibility requirements for SBA capital programs have been confusing for formerly incarcerated individuals and have deterred applications and pathways to entrepreneurship, which this rule change aims to fix. 

Participants included: 

  • Vice President Kamala Harris
  • Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV-04)
  • Administrator Isabel Guzman, Small Business Administration (SBA)
  • Eric Morrissette, Interim Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
  • Chef Jeff Henderson, Founder and President of The Chef Jeff Project
  • Stacy Womack-Henderson, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Chef Jeff Project (Chef Henderson’s spouse)

Play Button


Play Button


f t # e

Connect with the CBC

Stay connected with the CBC and get news directly to your inbox.