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Making a Difference: The Life and Legacy of Jody Raskind

We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of one of the thought leaders and pioneers in the field of microenterprise in the U.S.: Jody Raskind, who retired a few months ago as Chief of the Microenterprise Development Branch of the US Small Business Association.

Jody was fearless. She was the force which kept the SBA Microloan Program alive and on track, and creator of the agency’s P.R.I.M.E. program, which paved new avenues for organizations like BCNA to give Main Street entrepreneurs a first-chance at starting or expanding their businesses. She was a dear friend to microbusinesses and – through her work with microbusiness organizations and intermediaries – to millions of entrepreneurs who have access to business capital and support they otherwise would not have had. She was a pioneer in the microbusiness industry, a mentor, and a stouthearted drumbeater for Main Street.

Thanks to Connie Evans and her team at AEO, we had the privilege of celebrating Jody’s career at a retirement reception last July. Many people drove from across the country, in some cases up to eight hours, while others Jody Raskindinterrupted their vacations, just to show Jody how much they adored and appreciated her. I was happy to share how Jody had helped BCNA get its start as a micro-lender; she helped keep me on track with BCNA’s application to become an SBA Intermediary Lender and now BCNA has made 1669 loans for over $9.6 million from SBA loan funds.

Jody’s dedication made our own work richer. At BCNA, we will honor her legacy by continuing to advocate for underserved entrepreneurs in the great city of New York.

As Grady Hedgespeth so eloquently put it: "Jody Raskind touched millions of lives and made them all better; because, she gave them hope and opportunity."

Even until the very end Jody was a friend and champion — she requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made to AEO, the trade association for microenterprise organizations. To honor Jody’s bequest, please click here, or contact Susan Bentley, Director of Operations at sbentley@aeoworks.org. All donations will be used to create a scholarship fund for AEO’s 2015 National Conference.