Wells Fargo Invests $18.5 Million in Grants to Ease Small Business Stress and Expand Access to Capital

Latest Diverse Community Capital funding helps diverse small
businesses start and grow across U.S., including Puerto Rico

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Wells Fargo announced $18.5 million in grants today to nine Community
Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) so they can unlock capital or
increase training to diverse
small businesses
across the U.S. Two CDFIs are receiving awards to
continue their work supporting entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico, which is
still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

The latest round of funding is part of the company’s ongoing Wells Fargo
Works for Small Business: Diverse Community Capital program,
which was created to empower diverse small business owners with a $175
million commitment
through 2020
. Since its inception in 2015, the program has awarded
$94.8 million to 92 CDFIs in rural and urban areas. According to
Opportunity Finance Network (OFN)’s evaluation of the first phase of the
program, diverse small business borrowers from the first 44 CDFI
awardees have already created and sustained more than 45,000 local jobs
as a result of accessing capital and development services.

Small businesses are essential to a vibrant community, no matter where
you live,” said Connie Smith, Wells Fargo’s Diverse Community Capital
program manager. “These ‘activator grants’ are designed to drive
inclusive economic growth and significantly scale resources that help
underrepresented entrepreneurs grow and stay resilient in the face of
economic challenges. CDFIs are such an important partner in cultivating
small business growth, and the recipients in this round have a long
track record of success and leadership in the communities they serve.”

The Diverse Community Capital grant recipients are:

  • Accion, Inc. ($2.7 million): Based in Albuquerque, N.M. and
    serving five states in the southwest and mountain west, Accion will
    utilize its three-year grant to automate, market and scale an
    innovative loan product, Presto Loan, that has the potential to reach
    significantly more diverse entrepreneurs across Arizona, Colorado,
    Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. The product will offer loans up to
    $12,000, flexible underwriting criteria, affordable rates and a
    turnaround time of fewer than three days.
  • Carolina Small Business Development Fund ($2.8 million): The
    fund will seek to build minority small business capacity in North
    Carolina through expanded relationships with historically black
    colleges and universities. The grant also will be used to introduce an
    online development resource for more than 300 entrepreneurs interested
    in starting or growing a business.
  • Community Reinvestment Fund ($2.7 million): This
    Minneapolis-based nonprofit will expand access to capital for diverse
    small business owners by investing in two technology platforms —
    Connect2Capital® and SPARK. Connect2Capital will help reach and match
    entrepreneurs with the CDFI that best meets their needs and SPARK will
    help build the capacity of mission-driven lenders by providing a
    scalable, secure and streamlined loan origination process.
    Connect2Capital alone will aim to close more than 1,000 loans and
    distribute $50 million in capital over three years.
  • Hope Enterprise Corporation (HOPE) ($2.8 million): This
    seasoned CDFI focuses on building assets and improving lives in the
    Deep South, specifically in persistent poverty counties in Alabama,
    Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. With its grant, HOPE
    will provide technical assistance and credit-enhanced loans for more
    diverse small business owners. As a result of accessing needed
    capital, more high-quality jobs will likely be created and retained.
  • Main Street Launch ($2 million): Based in Oakland,
    Calif., Main Street Launch will activate an African American
    Entrepreneurship Institute, offering intensive training to prepare
    more businesses for success and building wealth. Topics will include
    business critical areas such as ecosystem building with community
    partners, supply chain effectiveness, operational readiness, financial
    education and succession planning.
  • Metropolitan Economic Development Association ($1.5 million):
    The nonprofit CDFI will pilot and expand its bank
    enterprise system to create more access to loan capital for diverse
    small business owners across the Midwest. Over three years, the
    association plans to administer $50 million in loans and share best
    practices from its system with fellow CDFIs in the region and
  • Self-Help Ventures Fund ($1.5 million): This nonprofit loan
    fund, based in Durham, N.C., will design a new line of credit for
    diverse developers as a way to fuel real estate and construction
    growth in Chicago and in North Carolina. The developer line of credit
    will allow minority entrepreneurs to more easily purchase a property
    and have capital to complete renovations. The grant will also support
    contractors, including African American, Latino, women and veterans,
    who want to grow their businesses.
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation ($1 million): The
    organization will focus on stimulating economic recovery in
    underserved communities in Puerto Rico that were deeply impacted by
    Hurricane Maria. A Kiva microcredit matching loan fund will be created
    to support entrepreneurs and small businesses, and credit-enhanced
    loans will be available for larger projects. LISC will also develop
    its organizational capacity and networks for responding to future
    natural disasters—supporting small businesses as part of broad
    economic recovery efforts.
  • PathStone Enterprise Center, Inc. ($1.5 million): Based in
    Rochester, N.Y., the Center will deploy its grant towards small
    business recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. With its long history of
    working with the Puerto Rican community regionally and through its
    office in Ponce, Puerto Rico, the Center plans to establish a
    revolving loan fund with more flexible terms to help stabilize small
    business owners and embed resiliency planning against future economic

The Diverse Community Capital program is a collaboration between Wells
Fargo and Opportunity
Finance Network
, a national network of CDFIs. Opportunity Finance
Network offers a social capital component of the program to focus on
helping CDFIs grow stronger through activities including in-person
networking, mentorship, consulting and peer learning. According to
Opportunity Finance Network, Diverse Community Capital awardees have
closed more than $393 million through more than 8,000 loans to diverse
small business clients, including African American, Latino, American
Indian, women, and veterans, among others.

Over the past three years, OFN has been privileged to work with
the talented individuals at the many CDFIs that have received Diverse
Community Capital Program awards from Wells Fargo,” said Donna Fabiani,
executive vice president of Knowledge Sharing at Opportunity Finance
Network. “We congratulate the new Activator Award recipients and are
eager to see how far they will take their diverse small business lending
with the help of these new awards.”

About Wells Fargo

Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo &
Company (NYSE:WFC) provides banking, investment and mortgage products
and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,800
locations, more than 13,000 ATMs, and the internet (wellsfargo.com).
Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy customers’ financial needs and help
them succeed financially. With approximately 259,000 team members, Wells
Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo &
Company was ranked No. 26 on Fortune’s 2018 rankings of America’s
largest corporations. In 2018, Wells Fargo donated more than $444
million to nearly 11,000 nonprofits in support of affordable housing,
small business growth, financial education, and sustainability, among
other community needs. For 10 consecutive years, Wells Fargo has held
the honor of No. 1 in workplace giving by United Way Worldwide. Wells
Fargo team members also make a difference by donating more than 2
million hours of volunteer time in the last year. News, insights and
more information on the company’s corporate responsibility are available
at Wells
Fargo Stories


Kim Erlichson, 201-463-4243

error: Content is protected !!