New Small Business Risk Education Program Empowers Women and Minority Entrepreneurs to Pursue the American Opportunity

Fri Feb 1, 2013 3:08pm EST

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Local small business owners will be honored tonight at celebration with keynote
speaker Vivica A. Fox
LOS ANGELES--(Business Wire)--
"Game changing." That`s how entrepreneur Jacqueline Sharp describes the impact
of the Small Business Risk Education (SBRE) program on her Los Angeles-based
business, Fort, which makes furniture from recycled and reclaimed materials, as
well as curated vintage pieces. Along with Sharp, more than 60 Los Angeles area
small business owners will celebrate completion of the SBRE program tonight at a
gathering with keynote speaker and small business advocate Vivica A. Fox. 

Designed by the Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), one of the nation`s
largest insurers of small businesses, and VEDC (Valley Economic Development
Center), the largest non-profit small business lender in California, SBRE
leverages the unique expertise of both organizations and provides insurance
literacy and risk management training to women and minority entrepreneurs. 

"The Small Business Risk Education program taught me about risks I had never
even considered," said Sharp, an ambitious small business owner who launched
Fort in 2011. "Through training with a Travelers safety professional, I
developed a clear sense of potential issues that could impact my ability to
staff, grow and manage my company. I now have a risk management plan to prepare
for unexpected interruptions and can focus my time on building my business." 

Empowering Women and Minorities for Small Business Success
Through the training, made possible by a $150,000 grant from Travelers, SBRE
provided participants, 77 percent of whom are women, and 70 percent minorities,

* Increased awareness of safety risks associated with small business ownership; 
* Training and education focused on risk management and business continuity
planning; and 
* Microloans to support capital investments related to risk management,
sustainability and growth for those who qualify.

"Travelers understands the crucial role small businesses play in our local
communities and in sustaining economic vitality," said Tara N. Spain, Director
of Community Relations for Travelers. "Through our partnership with VEDC,
Travelers aims to provide the skills and resources to establish, grow and
maintain the successful small businesses that fuel the American Opportunity." 

Roberto Barragan, President & CEO of VEDC, said: "Our mission is to create and
sustain jobs in our communities, so the SBRE program is a natural fit for us. By
leveraging Travelers` risk control expertise and providing the necessary access
to capital, we`ve been able to provide some of our region`s job creators and
innovators with tools that will contribute to a stronger local economy and a
better quality of life." 

Travelers and Small Business Advocacy
The Travelers SBRE program is just one of the many ways in which the company
advocates for small business owners. The company leverages organizational
support and deep knowledge and understanding of risk control, claim response,
and underwriting to develop customized initiatives to help protect
entrepreneurs. Through the Travelers Institute, Travelers is also committed to
working toward public policy solutions for small business owners. 

The SBRE program began in Los Angeles in early 2012 and Travelers plans to
launch the program in Chicago in 2013. 

About Travelers
The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV) is a leading provider of property
casualty insurance for auto, home and business. A component of the Dow Jones
Industrial Average, Travelers has more than 30,000 employees and generated
revenues of approximately $25 billion in 2011. The company provides support for
charitable organizations in the community through the Travelers Foundation and
with corporate funding. The company`s community giving is focused on education,
community development and the arts. Travelers employees are consistently active
in community initiatives and perform thousands of hours in volunteer time each
year. For more information, visit 

About VEDC
VEDCis the largest non-profit small business lender in California offering
direct micro and small business loans through programs including SBA Community
Advantage and SBA 504 loans. As a national small business lender, VEDC lends $25
million annually, while providing direct business assistance services to more
than 4,000 businesses. With seven offices nationwide VEDC has supported the
small business owner for 36 years with the goal of creating and sustaining jobs
and businesses in under-served communities. For more information visit

Ashley Maagero, 860-277-2954
Lisa Winkle, 818-907-9977

Copyright Business Wire 2013