Katie Taylor, OBDC’s Marketing & Development Associate interviews Scott Lewis, Senior Vice President – Lending. Scott joined OBDC four years ago with over 35 years of lending and business development experience, including five years of venture capital experience as a managing partner in a Bay Area venture capital firm. Scott’s expertise includes extensive experience in corporate, middle market, and small business lending, as well as the development of credit programs from both a sales and credit perspective. You can read more about Scott in his bio.
What motivated you to devote your career to supporting entrepreneurs?
The small business person is the lifeblood of our economy. He or she dreams and takes ideas from the ephemeral, making them tangible, and adding increased vigor to our economy as the small business hatches. The small business owner is a stimulus, bringing resources together in innovative ways to meet a need of his or her market. He or she takes risks, treading a path unknown to many of us. As an employer and a citizen within our communities, these small business people are the genesis of the vitality in our towns, villages and cities, across the nation and in our backyard. These valiant heroes deserve our support and gratitude, as inevitably we each are tied together with them in the ebb and flow of the tidal force of the economy.
What’s important to know about entrepreneurs?
People think of “entrepreneurs” as creating something new. The reality is, in a place like Oakland especially, the market exists for the types of services or experiences that bring a community together. People need a place to eat with their families. Folks want places to shop – essential retail – nearby their homes. Most of OBDC’s borrowers are the entrepreneurs whose businesses bring communities together.
You’ve been known to offer intensive technical assistance to the business owners you work with. Why do you think that’s important?
The best way to help entrepreneurs is to show them that I’m as invested in their business development as they are. When things need to be adjusted, I know the granular detail and can offer more support and resources because I know their plan. Most businesses fail because they did not execute their plan. By asking questions and offering resources, I can help them get back on track.
What do you love about working at OBDC?
As a community development organization, OBDC embodies the aspirations, dreams, potential, and diversity of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area community. Everyone within this organization is extraordinarily talented and committed to OBDC’s mission to empower local entrepreneurs to be successful. At this stage in my career, I am thankful to have the opportunity to work within this group of diverse, dedicated, and capable professionals and most importantly service the needs of the entrepreneurs within our community. The common denominator among the entrepreneurs we see in Oakland and surrounding cities and townships, is that they have a sense of its cultural diversity and community, and understand the value, and often the relevance, of being here.