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First Women’s Bank, poised to become Chicago’s first bank startup in a decade, aims to tackle the gender gap in lending

Chicago Tribune | Jul 31, 2020 at 11:03 AM From left to right, top to bottom: Colleen Ryan, Lisa Kornick, Amy Fahey, Maria Tabrizi, Tod Gordon, and Melissa Widen poses for a portrait at the future offices of the First Women’s Bank in the Goose Island neighborhood on July 29, 2020, in Chicago. (Armando L.…



First Women’s Bank, poised to become Chicago’s first bank startup in a decade, aims to tackle the gender gap in lending

Chicago Tribune

Jul 31, 2020 11: 03 AM

From left to right, top to bottom: Colleen Ryan, Lisa Kornick, Amy Fahey, Maria Tabrizi, Tod Gordon, and Melissa Widen poses for a portrait at the future offices of the First Women's Bank in the Goose Island neighborhood on July 29, 2020, in Chicago.

From left to right, top to bottom: Colleen Ryan, Lisa Kornick, Amy Fahey, Maria Tabrizi, Tod Gordon, and Melissa Widen poses for a portrait at the future offices of the First Women’s Bank in the Goose Island neighborhood on July 29, 2020, in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune)

During the decade after the 2008 financial crisis, appetite for new banks dried up in the Chicago area.

Now, a group of local women from the banking and professional services industries is looking to start a new commercial bank in Chicago, with a focus on lending to women-owned businesses.

First Women’s Bank, which received conditional approval this month from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., would be the first financial institution startup in the Chicago area in more than 10 years. Organizers are still raising the necessary funds but aim to launch early next year.

The idea for the bank grew from a discussion among the three co-founders — Lisa Kornick, Melissa Widen and Amy Fahey — on how female entrepreneurs still trail their male counterparts in accessing loans even as more women start their own businesses.

“During my time as a restaurant owner, I needed to select a new bank because our existing bank could no longer meet our needs,” said Kornick, co-owner of DMK Restaurants, which operates Ada Street and DMK Burger Bar in Chicago.

“I was shocked to find there were no banks focused on women. As an entrepreneur, I immediately saw an opportunity,” said Kornick, 55.

Kornick will serve as the bank’s chief experience officer. Fahey, a former banking executive for about 29 years with JPMorgan Chase & Co., will be chair of the board of directors, and Widen, a former Chicago attorney, will be vice president and chief administrative officer.

Marianne Markowitz, First Women’s Bank president and chief executive officer.

Marianne Markowitz, First Women’s Bank president and chief executive officer. (Kathy Hillegonds/DePaul University)

Marianne Markowitz, who led the U.S. Small Business Administration as acting administrator under former President Barack Obama, will be president and chief executive.

“I know a lot about the gender lending gap from my time at the SBA. It’s real. It’s persistent. It’s up to banks to really solve it. This is really about supporting the women’s economy — the growth of which is led by women of color,” said Markowitz, 54.

Women-owned businesses make up about 42% of the 30 million small businesses in the U.S., according to a 2019 report by American Express.

Between 2014 and 2019, the number of women-owned businesses grew 21%, with women of color leading the growth. Women of color made up half of all women-owned businesses in 2019, the report found.

Those are the businesses First Women’s Bank is trying to target, like hair salons, child day care centers, bookkeeping firms and consultancy firms, Markowitz said. She said the bank will offer traditional lending products, with a focus on SBA-backed loans.

Markowitz, who led the SBA in the Midwest region and nationally for about eight years, said SBA lending is a profitable area for small business lending because of the government’s high guarantee rate, which also makes it a great tool for service-related industries.

But women don’t always benefit from such programs. During the SBA’s rollout of the federal Paycheck Protection Program, several minority- and women-owned businesses said they had trouble accessing loans because they lacked relationships with larger banks or had troubles filling out the application.

“There’s dissatisfaction out there, especially with the larger banks on how they dealt with that (PPP) program. That’s a benefit to our bank. Anytime there is a disruption, it’s a real benefit for us,” Markowitz said.

Even as more women start their own businesses, studies show men account for the lion’s share of borrowers. Women-owned businesses made up 28.3% of borrowers in 2018, according to a report by the Biz2Credit, an online credit resource for small businesses. The study included 30,000 companies nationwide in sectors like retail, health care, hospitality, construction, and professional services.

Experts say women are more likely to fund startups using credit cards, which could affect their credit scores and chances of applying for loans in the future.

Abigail Scanlan, associate director of access to capital for the Women’s Business Development Center in Chicago, said many female entrepreneurs lack the confidence to apply for a bank loan or are dissuaded by the amount of documentation required.

“They don’t know who they can turn to. They tend to be afraid to reach the finance topic,” Scanlan said.

When Teresa Ging left her job in finance to pursue her dream of opening cupcake shop Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique in the Loop 13 years ago, she didn’t want to tap into her retirement savings or sell her condominium to start her business.

She sought help from the Women’s Business Development Center to apply for loans at three different banks. One rejected her application, telling her she was too young and needed to provide a secondary income, she said.

Now 42, Ging was 28 at the time. “I had six years of finance. I had collateral and a good credit score,” Ging said.

It was only after she got in touch with the bank manager to discuss the reason for her rejection that the bank approved her for a loan, Ging said.

“Even though they gave me a good rate, I didn’t go with that bank. I ended up going with another bank because they treated me well,” she said.

Organizers of First Women’s Bank said a bank led by women will be better able to understand the needs of female entrepreneurs.

“They want a quick answer. They are looking for competitively priced options. They need connections to appropriate commercial capital in order to navigate away from an over-reliance on personal credit. First Women’s Bank is uniquely positioned to serve these needs,” Markowitz said.

Though the coronavirus pandemic slowed down fundraising, the bank’s organizers are pushing ahead with plans to launch and hope to open a flagship location in the city’s Goose Island neighborhood by early 2021. The organizers declined to say how far along the fundraising effort is, but they must raise $50 million by Sept. 30.

“We experienced a slowdown in March, April and May as the economy here really shut down. We were experiencing tremendous momentum before that, and now we are experiencing that same momentum as we refocused on capital raising in June,” Markowitz said.

In addition to deposit insurance from the FDIC, the organizers must also obtain a bank charter from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and plan to file an application this fall with the Federal Reserve to get approval for FWB Financial Inc. to operate as the holding company.

The bank is bringing various people from the banking and professional services industry on board. Maria Tabrizi joined earlier this year as chief risk officer. Tod Gordon, a former banking executive at Riverwoods-based Discover Financial Services, will be chief financial officer. And Colleen Ryan, who led corporate communications at Kraft Foods and the Archdiocese of Chicago, will be the chief marketing and communications officer.

The last bank to launch in the city was Gold Coast Bank in 2007, according to the American Bankers Association. Nationwide, new banks have dwindled. According to the association, more than 1,000 banks opened between 2000 and 2009, but that number dropped to 27 between 2010 and 2019.

Tim Keehan, vice president and senior counsel at the Center for Securities, Trust and Investments at the association, said the decline has to do with the difficulties organizers face raising money.

“These are local community leaders. They don’t have deep pockets. They have to go out and raise money, and they only have a certain amount of time to do it,” he said.

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It wasn’t hard scouting for a new home. The organizers of First Women’s Bank chose Chicago because of the amount of women-owned businesses in the city, said Widen, 54.

According to a 2019 report by Startup Genome, a San Francisco-based data research firm, women accounted for 25% of startups in Chicago last year, higher than the global average of 14.1%.

“The women’s economy is very robust in Chicago. We know that more than 400,000 women-owned businesses have been started here and are operating in Chicago. … So the pipeline for women-led businesses is strong and growing,” Widen said.

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How Social Media’s Fixation with Scale Supercharged Disinformation

The attack on the U.S. Capitol building was the culmination of years of disinformation and conspiracy theories that had been weaponized on social media networks. Could that weaponization have been prevented? Perhaps. The dominant business model of these platforms, which emphasized scale over other considerations, made them particularly vulnerable to disinformation networks and related backlash…



How Social Media’s Fixation with Scale Supercharged Disinformation

The attack on the U.S. Capitol building was the conclusion of years of disinformation and conspiracy theories that had actually been weaponized on social media networks. The dominant service design of these platforms, which emphasized scale over other factors to consider, made them particularly vulnerable to disinformation networks and related reaction against those networks– both the loss of infrastructure support, as in the case of Parler, and the threat of regulative crackdown, as in the case of Facebook and Twitter.

Over the last four years, disinformation has actually ended up being a global watchword. After Russian meddling on social networks during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, experts expressed issues that social media would continue to be weaponized– cautions that were typically dismissed as hyperbolic.

But the January 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol developing shows simply how effective a networked conspiracy can be when it’s magnified through social media. The attack was the conclusion of years of disinformation from President Trump, which increase after Biden was stated the president-elect– and largely the item of social networks business’ inability to control the weaponization of their items.

Throughout the years, we’ve experienced various approaches to weaponization take shape. While Russian meddling showed the potential for well-placed disinformation to spread out across social networks, the 2017 “Join the Right” event in Charlottesville, Va. demonstrated how a group of white supremacists might use social media to plan a violent rally. The Capitol siege had components of both– it included a larger ideological spectrum than Charlottesville, and individuals had actually not just collaborated over social networks, however had been combined through it. The insurrectionists were unified by their support for Donald Trump and their false belief that the election had actually been stolen from him. At the peak of the moment, Trump used social networks to message to the rabid crowd in actual time from his smart phone at a safe get rid of.

This has actually raised fundamental questions about the future of the platforms where this all played out.

But in order to understand what comes next, we require to ask: How did social networks become a disinformation device? And how do business designs of these tech business explain how that occurred?

Whatever open will be made use of.

For more than a years, business design for today’s social media giants, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter has been to pursue scale. Excellent ideas, such as the video sharing platform Vine, were left in this pursuit, while investor KPIs were pegged to broadening the user base. This technique has a considerable weak point: When a platform’s growth depends on openness, it’s more susceptible to malicious usage. As we can now see, this open company model can leave companies exposed in manner ins which these businesses are now are being required to consider.

There have been a few crucial phases that lead to this minute. Each, in its own method, highlighted how the vulnerability of the open, scale-centric business model of social media platforms might be exploited.

Relatively early on, the focus on growth set the conditions for the advancement of a shadow industry of phony fans and synthetic engagement According to insiders, this was well-known, but social media companies avoided conversations about the abuse of their items

When internet marketing was turned into a political tool, however, the field of bad stars expanded significantly– as did the possible damage they could do. The connection between social media and political occasions such as Brexit and Trump’s win became clear after Carole Cadwalladr broke the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The occurrence offered a case research study in how information gathered from social networks might be repurposed to target specific audiences with material that irritated political stress and fractured coalitions, not to discuss plant scrap news and normally make mayhem and confusion reign.

Rising from the ashes of the Pizzagate conspiracy, which declared Hilary Clinton was part of a child-exploitation network in D.C., a strange account named “Q” started publishing cryptic missives on a message board understood for memes, anime porn, and white supremacist arranging. While comprehensive, the core story of QAnon was that Trump was privately engaged in a war with the “deep state” to arrest Clinton and stop a Democrat-run cabal of Satan worshiping pedophiles engaged in massive human trafficking.

With QAnon, the fringe transferred to the mainstream, with Q discussion threads turning up on Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter. The platforms’ growth model indicated content and groups that produced high engagement were rewarded with greater priority in recommendations. In other words, QAnon communities delivered the kind of material that social networks reward and benefited appropriately. A couple of specific events, like the arrest of Jeffery Epstein and the Las Vegas mass shooting, generated bursts of brand-new interest in Q’s posts and analysis of them. Q networks likewise included the development of Covid-19, launching a scam declaring the pandemic was a Democratic plot versus Trump and arranged several protests to this end.

Belatedly, some tech business reacted. Facebook and Twitter took some action to get rid of Q networks on their items this summer Reddit did not have the same issues because they acted early to remove Q online forums, and the conspiracy theory never acquired a strong foothold on the platform. But by the time Twitter and Facebook took action, Q communities had actually currently prepared for deplatforming, producing redundant networks on other apps with smaller sized networks, like Gab and Parler.

With the election of Joe Biden in November, the impacts of these trends became clear. The outcome of the election was disconcerting to those who were filled by these conspiracy theories. The sensation of being pushed away politically, while also isolated during a pandemic, had fired up numerous Q followers to the point where Trump only required to light the match on social media to spread out election conspiracies like digital wildfire.

In every circumstances leading up to January 6, the moral task was to minimize the scale and pay more attention to the quality of viral material. We saw the cost of stopping working to do so.

Where we go from here.

In his book Anti-Social Media, Siva Vaidhyanathan writes, “If a global advertising company leverages its vast variety of files on its two billion users to restrict competition and welcome antidemocratic forces to infest its channels with disinformation, democratic states must move to break it up and to limit what companies can discover and utilize about residents.” In the wake of the attack on the Capitol, we’re seeing a growing interest in doing just that.

As we, as a society, think about next actions, we need to remember that emphasizing scale has a trade off with security. In addition, failing to act upon disinformation and viral conspiracy does not imply they will ultimately simply disappear; in fact, the reverse holds true. Since social media seems to move the fringe to the mainstream, by connecting people with similar interests from the mundane to the utterly bizarre, tech business need to develop a prepare for content curation and community small amounts that reflects a more human scale.

Tech companies, consisting of start-ups wary of overreach, and VCs must start to prepare model policies for regulators to consider, remembering that openness and scale pose considerable threats not only to earnings, however to democracies.

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Republican sources say McConnell is thinking about a vote to found guilty Trump and expel him from the United States federal government forever

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is considering a vote to convict President Donald Trump in an impeachment trial, Republican sources told Insider. “He’s seriously entertaining it,” said one GOP source familiar with the Kentucky Republican’s thinking. “He wants to hear it out.” Convicting Trump and removing him from office isn’t the end game here since…



Republican sources say McConnell is thinking about a vote to found guilty Trump and expel him from the United States federal government forever
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is considering a vote to convict President Donald Trump in an impeachment trial, Republican sources told Expert.
  • ” He’s seriously entertaining it,” stated one GOP source knowledgeable about the Kentucky Republican politician’s thinking. “He wishes to hear it out.”
  • Convicting Trump and removing him from office isn’t completion game here considering that the impeachment trial likely will not begin in earnest up until after his term is up. The Senate would next vote to ban Trump from ever holding a federal government position again, and a simple bulk is all that’s required to make that take place.
  • McConnell understands Trump is at his most vulnerable today as he prepares to leave office while facing a raft of prospective criminal charges, according to Republicans close to the bulk leader and the White Home.
  • ” It’s the time to shiv him and after that brace for the fallout,” said one GOP source with ties to the Trump White House.
  • See Organization Insider’s homepage for more stories

McConnell is stated to be enraged at Trump for directing the heavily-armed mob that swarmed the Capitol in protest of Congress licensing President-elect Joe Biden’s 2020 election success. He now sees the Democrat-led Home effort that culminated Wednesday with a bipartisan 232-197 vote to impeach the president as a prospective opportunity to rid his party and American politics once and for all of Trump.

McConnell is attempting to drum up the essential 17 Republican votes needed to assist convict the president at a Senate trial, according to a source close to the Trump White Home.

And the president has actually currently been prohibited from the potent social media networks that helped fuel his political increase, damaging his capability to speak straight to his advocates and influence some of the fence-sitting GOP senators who have the power to end Trump’s profession.

” Now is the time,” a source close to the White House said of McConnell’s potential relocation.

Mitt Romney

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was the only Senate Republican politician to back convicting Trump during his very first impeachment trial in early2020

Senate Tv by means of AP.

Getting to 17 Senate Republican politician votes

Moderate Republicans like Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Mitt Romney of Utah are extensively seen as possible yes votes to found guilty Trump at an impeachment trial. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, the president’s adult boys, also threatened main obstacles versus any Republicans who didn’t support their dad’s effort to overturn Biden’s election.

Maybe the most engaging reason Republicans have to back Trump’s conviction is what would come right after the impeachment trial.

Trump by all accounts is likely to wage war versus any GOP defectors. It’s how he reacted to Romney when the celebration’s 2012 presidential candidate broke ranks last February as the only Senate Republican to support Trump’s conviction on one count following the last impeachment trial. The GOP sources state McConnell acknowledges the dangers if it suggests say goodbye to Trump.

” It’s going to be a short-term blood bath,” the source near to the White House said. “He’ll most likely go on the warpath against all the senators and attempt to get them gotten rid of from workplace and all that. I believe the much better thing, they believe, is to knock him out than let him remain.”


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi displays the resolution impeaching President Trump for inciting an insurrection at the United States Capitol.

Alex Brandon/AP.

‘ If McConnell comes out in favor of conviction, then he has the votes’

McConnell isn’t stating yet how he will vote throughout an impeachment trial.

” While journalism has had plenty of speculation, I have actually not made a decision on how I will vote and I mean to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” the majority leader composed in a letter sent out Wednesday afternoon to his GOP coworkers.

The Republican leader likewise has no plans to bring the Senate back into session till January 19 th, a day prior to Biden’s inauguration. That implies a trial to hear the House’s proof arguing in favor of Trump’s removal due to the “insurrection” from the riots likely will not occur up until after he’s already out of office and with Senate Democrats taking over the bulk for the brand-new Congress.

Republicans viewing McConnell’s movements say that his group’s decision to leakage word he would think about voting to found guilty Trump should be of alarm to the president. McConnell is a master tactician who wouldn’t let that signal head out without having a reason.

” I believe if McConnell comes out in favor of conviction, then he has the votes,” stated one previous Senate Republican politician staffer. Other Republicans near to McConnell and the Senate Republican conference echoed that sentiment: McConnell would not be floating Trump’s conviction if he didn’t already have the votes lined up.

At the White House, Trump and his fast-depleting personnel have not begun preparing an impeachment defense. Sources near the White Home state the president’s team remains in mayhem after recently’s riot. They likewise don’t think McConnell has the votes to convict him, according to another Republican close to the White Home.

In an interview on Tuesday, law teacher Alan Dershowitz told Insider he had actually not been asked to protect Trump in an impeachment trial and most likely would not do so.

Trump released a declaration on Wednesday just before the House voted to impeach him advising his advocates against dedicating acts of violence at Biden’s inauguration next week.

Republicans tracking McConnell’s moves warned that it’s still no assurance that the 17 GOP votes will ultimately emerge to found guilty Trump.

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Facebook hesitates of apps that can replace WhatsApp

Facebook responded to the backlash over the new WhatsApp privacy policy changes, explaining in a FAQ that the app will not lose end-to-end encryption and other privacy features in the upcoming update. WhatsApp prompted users to agree to the new privacy policy a few days ago. Millions of people downloaded competing instant messaging apps like…



  • Facebook reacted to the backlash over the new WhatsApp personal privacy policy changes, explaining in a Frequently Asked Question that the app will not lose end-to-end encryption and other privacy features in the upcoming update.
  • WhatsApp triggered users to accept the brand-new privacy policy a few days back. Millions of people downloaded competing instant messaging apps like Signal and Telegram in response.
  • Signal and Telegram provide the exact same end-to-end encryption as WhatsApp and deal with iPhone and Android.
  • Facebook now informs clients that it’s WhatsApp company and commerce features that will result in data sharing with Facebook.

Facebook validated a few days ago that it’s about to destroy WhatsApp, as users discovered triggers on Android and iPhone telling them the chat app would start sharing personal data with Facebook. The choice to start getting information from WhatsApp users is likewise controversial, thinking about that the only alternative to opt out is to leave WhatsApp completely. Millions of users have actually reacted to WhatsApp’s notice by flocking to competing apps that offer comparable services.

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The reason WhatsApp is so popular is rather easy. The app uses end-to-end encryption, much like iMessage and works on both iPhone and Android. It’s the perfect app on your phone, tablet, and desktop to stay connected with all your family and friends, no matter what gadgets they may use. WhatsApp isn’t the only chat app that can do that

Signal and Telegram both support end-to-end file encryption and work on iPhone and Android. Like WhatsApp and iMessage, they likewise use the same features you ‘d expect from an immediate messaging client, including file-sharing, call, emoji, and a lot of the bells and whistles you ‘d want from an iMessage option.

Both Signal and Telegram have actually seen enormous rises in downloads because the WhatsApp privacy timely hit phones, with millions of people flocking to download the apps. WhatsApp’s dominance isn’t likely to be threatened anytime soon.

We wish to deal with some reports and be 100%clear we continue to secure your personal messages with end-to-end file encryption. MP

— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) January 12, 2021

Facebook is already addressing the privacy problem it developed, showing it’s really aware of the reaction. The business published a FAQ area that discusses exactly what WhatsApp information Facebook will not be able to gather from users and shared the infographic above on social networks.

That was never ever a concern, as Facebook doesn’t mean to remove end-to-end file encryption from the app. Facebook also states that WhatsApp will not keep messaging and calling logs and will not see shared location data. WhatsApp will not share contacts, and groups will stay personal.

These are all good things, naturally. But Facebook doesn’t include in the infographic the data WhatsApp will show Facebook, even though the Frequently Asked Question area does contain more details about the brand-new WhatsApp privacy update.

” We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or household in any way. Rather, this update includes modifications related to messaging an organization on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides more transparency about how we collect and utilize information,” the page checks out.

Facebook discusses that WhatsApp users who choose to interact with companies will have a few of their data shared with those business. “Whether you interact with an organization by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you’re stating and may utilize that details for its own marketing functions, which might consist of advertising on Facebook,” the Frequently Asked Question area checks out

” If you pick to interact with Shops, your shopping activity can be utilized to individualize your Shops experience and the ads you see on Facebook and Instagram, the FAQ states. “Features like this are optional, and when you use them, we will tell you in the app how your information is being shown Facebook.”

Finding companies on Facebook and after that contacting them via WhatsApp could also lead to more data tracking. “If you have WhatsApp set up on your phone, you’ll have the alternative to message that business,” the page checks out. “Facebook may use the way you connect with these advertisements to personalize the ads you see on Facebook.

Chris Smith began writing about devices as a pastime, and prior to he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world.

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