Senate Aging Committee Holds Hearing on Challenges and Opportunities for Senior Entrepreneurs

Sen. Collins Invites Maine Entrepreneur to Appear Before the Aging Committee

                WASHINGTON, DC—The Senate Special Committee on Aging, led by Chairman Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Ranking Member Susan Collins, today held a joint hearing with the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee titled “In Search of a Second Act: The Challenges and Advantages of Senior Entrepreneurship.”  Committee Members and witnesses discussed the challenges and opportunities for older Americans to start their own businesses. 

Testifying at the invitation of Senator Collins was Elizabeth Isele of Maine, who spearheaded two organizations that provide support and resources to senior entrepreneurs. Ms. Isele is the Co-Founder of “Senior Entrepreneurship Works,” a non-profit created to help seniors who have or wish to start a business.  She is also founder of SavvySeniorsWork.org, a blog dedicated to senior entrepreneurs.

            Senator Collins said, “The role played by America’s small businesses in creating jobs and opportunity is well-known, but the role played by America’s seniors may come as a surprise: individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 make up the largest percentage of new business owners in the U.S., and this has been true for decades.”  The Senator added, “Most seniors don’t want to spend their retirement just on leisure, and many need to earn extra money to help make ends meet,”

            The witnesses and Senator Collins described the many advantages and economic benefits associated with older Americans starting their own businesses.          “Seniors often have advantages that make them excellent entrepreneurs, such as their life experience and real-world education, and the networks they have established and maintained throughout their work careers,”  said Senator Collins.

 

            Elizabeth Isele explained that far too many seniors are intimidated by the thought of entrepreneurship, yet, in addition to the economic advantages to starting their own businesses, senior-owned businesses often help create jobs in a local economy through the family members and other individuals they may hire.

 

            In addition, witnesses pointed out that many successful senior-owned businesses were launched with very small initial capital investments.  Witnesses and panelists, including Senator Collins, agreed that providing seniors with a greater awareness of “microloans”, or small business loans, that could be available to them, could also provide more opportunities for seniors to start businesses.

 

            Additional witnesses included: Tameka Montgomery, Associate Administrator of the SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development; Ken Yancey, CEO of the SCORE business association; and Conchy Bretos, CEO of MIA Senior Living solutions.