Travelers Foundation Vice President Tara Spain spoke with MetroHartford Alliance (MHA) Content Manager Nan Price about her involvement with the MHA’s Racial Equity and Economic Development (REED) Leadership Committee and her efforts to help support women and businesses of color in the Hartford Region.
NAN PRICE: In what ways are you supporting women and businesses of color in the Hartford Region?
TARA SPAIN: I like to align my work with my personal values, and one thing I’m really passionate about is elevating women and diverse entrepreneurs. Small businesses help fuel our economies, solve complex issues, and create thriving communities, yet small businesses led by women and people of color continue to face unique barriers and challenges.
About 10 years ago, I helped launch the Travelers Small Business Risk Education (SBRE) program, a national initiative that provides risk management education to businesses owned by women, minorities, and veterans across the United States.
To help entrepreneurs achieve success, SBRE provides access to workshops on a variety of topics. Since the program’s inception, we’ve reached more than 3,500 small business participants throughout the country.
Travelers also partners with organizations in Hartford and throughout the region that work to provide resources and training to help small business owners achieve their goals. One of these organizations is reSET, a nonprofit that provides business development and eco-building services to social entrepreneurs throughout the region. I’ve been on reSET’s board since 2014, and last year, more than 90% of our businesses were women and/or minority-owned.
In 2020, Travelers also supported the launch of the Women’s Business Development Council’s Equity Match Grant program, which was created to assist Connecticut’s women-owned businesses, particularly those within disenfranchised populations and distressed communities. The program provides grants up to $10,000 and distributed 98 grants totaling more than $900,000 in its first year. Many of those businesses were from the Hartford Region.
On top of that, Travelers supports a robust supplier diversity program, ensuring that we’re providing opportunities for businesses owned by people of diverse backgrounds to participate in our bidding and procurement processes. This includes businesses owned by women, people of color, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and veterans.
While I’m not personally involved in this particular initiative, I think it’s important to mention, as it promotes the development of diverse enterprises and supports the growth of the communities in which we do business. In fact, in 2020, the company spent more than $140 million with diverse suppliers.
It’s important to remember, though, that all of this is a collective effort. You don’t have to be part of a large-scale initiative to create change in your community. The Hartford Region has a number of businesses owned by women and entrepreneurs of color, and we can all do our part in helping them thrive.