What a night! Recap and photos from Opportunity Fund’s Economic Inequality: Is the Deck Stacked? An Evening with Michael Lewis

Posted on Oct 17, 2016 by Jacqueline Heinrich



What a fun, inspiring evening!

On October 13th, Opportunity Fund brought together two hundred friends, donors, supporters, and interested members of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial community for an inspiring and provocative conversation about the state of the U.S. financial system.


Economic Inequality: Is the Deck Stacked? featured best-selling author Michael Lewis talking about economic inequality and why the financial system works better for some than others. He was joined by “Opportunity Funded” business owners Alicia Villanueva and Maurice Brewster, who discussed their long road to business success and celebrated the role of Opportunity Fund in helping them get there. Along the way, the discussion touched on challenges small businesses face in accessing capital to grow, why the market undervalues people who don’t fit a traditional mold, and what the Oakland A’s baseball team looks like naked in the locker room. 


This was also an important fundraiser, helping Opportunity Fund close the gap between dreams and opportunities for 2,300 entrepreneurs in California this year.

With support from our Host Committee, sponsors, and guests, we raised almost $300,000! 


Every $1 invested in Opportunity Fund generates a ripple effect in the community—helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses, create jobs and contribute to our local economy—and driving $2 in new economic activity.


Thank you to those who joined us and supported Opportunity Fund and its clients! 




Program Recap


Our thought-provoking program on economic inequality featured New York Times best-selling author Michael Lewis, KQED public radio host Queena Kim, and a panel with two “Opportunity Funded” clients, Alicia Villanueva of Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas and Maurice Brewster of Mosaic Global Transportation


Starting out the program, Michael Lewis discussed the inequalities in our financial system, which unfairly favors some over others. “People who do well in our society had to have luck…why people aren’t grateful for their luck and try to make others lucky boggles me,” Mr. Lewis noted.


While Lewis has written books on a wide range of topics –including The Big ShortMoneyball, and The Blind Side—he told the audience that he aims to tell stories that bring to light the inequalities and biases in our society. While discussing how giving undervalued baseball players a chance led to major success for the Oakland A’s, the topic of Moneyball, Lewis observed that if we undervalue a baseball player even though we think we know what to look for, “[Imagine] the likelihood an entrepreneur will be misvalued.”


“Misvalued” certainly describes Alicia and Maurice, entrepreneurs who lacked the resources but not the resolve to succeed. In conversation with Lewis, Alicia and Maurice shared their similar experiences of being turned down by banks that were unwilling to lend to them. “I kept getting ‘no, no, no, no’ [from banks], but then the Opportunity Fund loan let me buy my first van to do deliveries,” said Alicia, who went from making 500 tamales a week to now making 1,000 tamales a day.


When asked where their businesses would be without Opportunity Fund, both Alicia and Maurice responded that their businesses wouldn’t exist. “[We] would be completely out of business if we didn’t get that $50,000 loan from Opportunity Fund,” Maurice said of his now multi-million dollar business.  Alicia and Maurice made clear how a little help from Opportunity Fund made the difference in moving from entrepreneurial dreams to successful businesses.



A Great Evening in Support of a Great Cause


In addition to the captivating program, guests enjoyed delicious food and drinks, a beautiful venue, and a wonderful crowd of supporters. The menu included "Opportunity Funded" chefs with We Sushi providing sushi tacos and handrolls, and Johnny Doughnuts providing donuts in a variety of fun flavors. 



Check out the photos from the evening!

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We'd like to say a special thank you to our Host Committee for making this evening possible! 

Anne & Greg Avis |Carolyn & Steve Bowsher | Torie Clarke & Brian Graham | Joni & David Cropper | Mary Dent | Amy & Bill Gurley | Yun-Fang Juan| Cathy & Jim Koshland | Debra & Mark Leslie | Sara & Josh Leslie | Sharon & Seth Leslie | Christine L. Richardson & Steven S. Kaufhold | Sand Hill Foundation | Sobrato Family Foundation



Thank you to our sponsor, Silicon Valley Bank!



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