Financing the American Dream

Chakema Clinton-Quintana on co-leading a new small business center

Clinton Quintana

CHAKEMA CLINTON-QUINTANA is passionate about building a better community and a stronger entrepreneurial class in Wilmington. And that’s why she has accepted a leadership position as vice president of inclusive small business at Live Oak Bank’s new inclusive small business center. The center will serve underserved small business owners and individuals who aspire to become small business owners when it opens at 106 Market Street in downtown Wilmington in the fall.

The new collaborative hub will provide access to coaching, community, and capital including microloans, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, and grants.

“Our goal is to ensure local small business owners have what they need to succeed in our community,” Clinton-Quintana says. “Live Oak Bank has done a great job of helping small business owners across the country realize the American dream and we hope to replicate that success right here in Wilmington.”

Clinton-Quintana brings a degree in business management with a concentration in management from Strayer University in Herndon, Virginia plus nine years of experience as a bank compliance officer to her new role.

She has held compliance and security positions at both Live Oak Bank, Wilmington and RBC Bank in Raleigh. She believes, “A degree in business management translates across almost any role or industry.” But she credits both of her grandmothers with having a major impact on her career choice and her passionate work ethic.

“My maternal grandmother Vivian is a retired educator. She believes in working smart, making the right choices, and learning from your mistakes. Her advice and love are free. Everything else must be worked for,” Clinton-Quintana says. “My paternal grandmother Catherine went above and beyond to help anyone in need. She purchased and overstocked her pantry with food just in case someone needed groceries.”

Clinton-Quintana’s new role enables her to serve entrepreneurs in her own backyard, especially the underserved, with equitable access to financial resources and services. The center’s main customers will be women, minorities, veterans and indigenous small business owners who have historically been underserved.

“What I love most about this position is that I get to collaborate with small business owners, understand their desires, and guide them to the resources they need to build a successful business and legacy,” she says. “Working at Live Oak Bank matches my burning passion and desire to help others succeed. That’s what gets me up every morning.”

JAMAR JENKINS, inclusive small business specialist, will join Clinton-Quintana in leading the new center.

Clinton-Quintana has watched women take leadership roles over the time she has been in the banking industry.

“Live Oak is half-female and there is strong commitment to bridge gaps and identify growth opportunities to increase opportunities for women and people of color.” Live Oak recruits at historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina and has established corporate affinity groups to support minority employees in the workplace.

“It is an exciting time to be part of the change,” Clinton-Quintana says. She advises young females to “learn everything, always sell yourself, but never sell yourself short.”

About the new center, she says, “If our new center can play a part in helping entrepreneurs succeed in our town, then we want to be part of those efforts to create a new measure of economic success.”

It’s the ‘hurry up and wait’ that is most challenging for Clinton-Quintana.

“I want the growth and success for our underserved business owners now. However, there is a process that we must go through. I am excited to become a part of someone’s dream and watch it come to life.”

To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to

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Categories: Women to Watch