FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Brendon Miller, (202) 529-5505 ext. 224
Wacif, in collaboration with Citi Community Development, Launches D.C. Employee Ownership Initiative
Initiative aims to preserve and catalyze business ownership in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. (October 30, 2018) – The Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. (Wacif) today announced the launch of the D.C. Employee Ownership Initiative, an effort that will help create new pathways to small business ownership in Washington, D.C.
According to the Democracy at Work Institute (DaWI), there are approximately 2,650 business owners of color near retirement in Washington, DC. The D.C. Employee Ownership Initiative, supported with $150,000 from founding corporate sponsor Citi Community Development, will provide retiring small business owners with succession planning support and technical assistance to transfer the ownership of their businesses to employees. In addition to succession planning support, the initiative will provide coaching to aspiring entrepreneurs to catalyze and launch new employee-owned cooperatives.
“Nationwide, employee ownership is experiencing a renaissance as a powerful tool for building community assets and ensuring that legacy businesses remain community anchors as business owners retire,” said Wacif Executive Director Harold Pettigrew. “Wacif is excited to deepen its collaboration with Citi Community Development in launching the DC Employee Ownership Initiative, and looks forward to creating new opportunities to strengthen the approaches we have to community wealth-building through ownership.”
“Nearly 40% of African American business owners in Washington, D.C. are nearing retirement age,” said Robert Burns, Senior Vice President and Greater Washington Market Manager, Citi Community Development. “By collaborating with Wacif, we aim to preserve existing businesses and catalyze new ones, so that residents, especially people of color, can access ownership opportunities and build wealth.”
Research has shown that workers in employee-owned companies enjoyed 92% higher median household wealth and 53% longer median job tenure than those without. In addition, employee ownership is increasingly important as baby boomers, who own 67% of U.S. small businesses, are facing retirement, of which 85% have no succession plan according to research by Democracy at Work Institute and supported by Citi Community Development.
“Employee ownership is an initiative highlighted in Mayor Bowser’s Economic Strategy, and aligns with her commitment to create pathways to the middle class,” said Kristi Whitfield, Director of D.C.’s Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD). “The DC Employee Ownership Initiative will provide important tools for the city’s small businesses and help drive inclusive economic growth.”
Employee-owned cooperatives are business enterprises that are owned and governed by their employees. The number of U.S. employee-owned cooperatives has grown to over 350, with more than 7,000 worker-owners and annual revenues of over $400 million.
Since 2013, Citi Community Development has provided support for research, events and capacity building to inform the field of employee ownership and promote the preservation of legacy businesses for lower income communities as well as among communities of color. Most recently, Citi Community Development supported a convening on financing conversions of legacy businesses to employee-owned models in New York City, led by Capital Impact Partners.
About the Washington Area Community Investment Fund
The Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. (Wacif) is one of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area’s leading Community Development Financial Institution’s (CDFI) focused on small business development. Wacif’s mission is to increase equity and economic opportunity in underserved communities in the Washington DC area by investing knowledge, social, and financial capital in low-and moderate-income entrepreneurs. In the last seven years, Wacif has closed more than $9.2 million in loans and assisted over 2,000 entrepreneurs with coaching and technical assistance, sustaining more than 300 local jobs. Learn more at http://wacif.org.
About Citi Community Development
Citi Community Development leads Citi’s commitment to financial inclusion and economic empowerment for underserved individuals, families and communities across the U.S. Through innovative collaborations with municipalities, community groups and leading nonprofit organizations, we harness the institution’s expertise, products and services to help expand opportunity for all.
Additional information may be found at http://citicommunitydevelopment.com | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://blog.citi.com | Facebook:www.facebook.com/citi | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/citi