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Wells Fargo expands financing for diverse small businesses

The Wells Fargo Foundation has announced that it is providing US$17.4 million to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) across the US to accelerate the growth of diverse small businesses and job creation in local communities. As part of the foundation’s Diverse Community Capital programme, Wells Fargo’s grants will fund new efforts to speed access to capital, launch mentoring programmes, expand geographic reach, and help sustain more than 50,000 local jobs. Overall, the funding is expected to create an opportunity for more than 30,000 new loans to diverse entrepreneurs.

“Empowering small businesses is a direct and impactful way to stimulate job growth,” said Brandee McHale, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation. “Wells Fargo’s Diverse Community Capital programme lifts up underserved small business owners with financing and important technical assistance. By working with CDFIs, we can reach into neighborhoods to find those entrepreneurs who want to build a legacy for their families and the wider community.”

Wells Fargo will collaborate with these CDFIs, local banks with a social mission, during this investment round:

  • Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, Atlanta, will launch a new collaboration with Morehouse College’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center for diverse entrepreneurs and expand an existing in-house development programme for women entrepreneurs. Both programmes will focus on activating growth and building business acumen for existing small businesses poised to scale. The theory of change for each will be evaluated for possible replication. In addition, a new loan guarantee programme will give high-risk business owners access to capital and technical assistance. Overall funding will enable ACE to provide more than US$28m in loans for at least 250 diverse small business owners over the next three years, enabling 500 local jobs.
  • Community First Fund, will expand its lending work in north Philadelphia, increasing the capital available to primarily African American and Latino small businesses by more than US$13m. Community First Fund plans to intensify efforts in the small business community and anticipates financing 89 businesses that will employ more than 350.
  • Grameen America will expand its microlending program in Los Angeles and open locations in Fresno, Calif.; San Antonio; and Dallas to enable diverse low-income women entrepreneurs to start or grow businesses with the goal of investing in over 6,000 new businesses and supporting 6,700 jobs over three years. To help support successful small businesses, Grameen America offers all of its members the ability to receive financial education, build their credit scores, and boost their family’s incomes.
  • Houston Business Development, Houston, will deploy more than US$3.25m in loans over three years by introducing Credit Builder, Fast Track and Express Loans in the Houston area to help expedite access to finance for entrepreneurs. Along with increased capital, Houston Business Development will mentor more than 4,500 small business owners and run local workshops that build business acumen.
  • LISC will increase the total volume of lending to diverse small businesses in South Los Angeles and the Far East Industrial Corridor of Indianapolis by providing enhanced credit for entrepreneurs in need and growing the size of its available loan capital for underrepresented small business owners over the next three years. In each place this work is part of a broader effort to support and coordinate investments in people, places and businesses.
  • Opportunity Fund, based in California, will launch an Inclusive Lending Platform, with a goal of originating more than 16,000 loans and investing more than US$600m in minority-owned small businesses through 2022. The new platform will enable digital referrals and loan packaging, increasing efficiency and accelerating access to affordable financing and improving the customer experience. This catalytic capital and online platform will help support nearly 45,000 local jobs in diverse, undercapitalised communities across the US.
  • Raza Development Fund, Phoenix, will enhance its services and technical assistance for diverse entrepreneurs in South Phoenix with a focus on larger-scale loans for growth-stage companies. With new financing, small business owners anticipate sustaining approximately 275 local jobs.
  • Started in 2015, the Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital programme is a five-year, US$175m commitment to empower diverse small businesses in collaboration with Opportunity Finance Network. To date, the program has delivered more than 322,000 hours of technical assistance and US$781m in financing to minority-owned small businesses, enabling over 103,000 jobs across the US.


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