Connie Evans: Inaugural (2005-6) Visiting Social Activist

As the first President of the Women’s Self-Employment Project (WSEP), Ms. Evans was an early advocate for Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) for Illinois welfare recipients. After IDA legislation was passed and implemented there, IDAs went on to become a nationally popular vehicle for personal savings. The microcredit program she led at WSEP won numerous awards, including the first Presidential Award for Excellence in Microenterprise Development. Ms. Evans has influenced decision making about development investments at home and abroad through her board memberships on such organizations as the Federal Reserve Bank, the Global Fund for Women, and the Social Venture Network.

Following her experience as a Visiting Social Activist, Ms. Evans created a business plan for a web-based financial lifestyle company to provide culturally appropriate financial tools for women of color. Unfortunately, bank lending to small businesses was already becoming limited by the time she required seed money and therefore the business opportunity was lost.

Since that time, Ms. Evans became President and CEO of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity. AEO is the only national membership association committed to microenterprise development as an effective economic development strategy and a powerful poverty alleviation tool. By providing cutting edge training, knowledge sharing, Federal and State public policy and advocacy, AEO empowers its member organizations to be effective in serving the needs of microentrepreneurs who do not have access to traditional sources of business education or capital. .