Washington, DC (June 25, 2020) – The Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif) today joined the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco), the energy division of Exelon Corporation, to announce a $350,000 grant supporting Wacif’s mission to promote equity and economic opportunity, with a focus on underserved entrepreneurs of color in Washington, DC, and more specifically, entrepreneurs of color in Wards 5, 7, and 8.
“From the pandemic to protests in cities across the country, economic inequality will continue to grow without intentional solutions and direct actions that target black and brown business owners,” said Wacif CEO Harold Pettigrew. “We are reminded, now more than ever, that small businesses are the cornerstone of our communities, and we stand united with our partners at Pepco in our shared commitment to ensure an inclusive economic recovery.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant impacts to individuals, families and communities across the area, highlighting inequities in access to resources and support systems for many residents and businesses,” said Dave Velazquez, President and CEO of Pepco Holdings. “These grants will provide needed assistance to our local small businesses who are so incredibly essential to supporting the long-term vibrancy of our communities.”
The grant directly supports the resilience of entrepreneurs facing COVID-driven economic headwinds. Economic shocks thus far in 2020 have resulted in entrepreneurs of color facing significant, negative, short-term impacts, including rapidly increased or decreased business levels, the need to abruptly pivot to new methods of operating, both virtually and in-person, and new safety and compliance concerns. These entrepreneurs also face increasingly uncertain and stressful long-term impacts, driven by uncertainty in economic outlooks and the potential that the COVID-19 pandemic will result in a semi-permanent “new normal” lasting beyond 2020.
This partnership also exemplifies the comprehensive relief that Wacif has provided to clients throughout COVID-19 public health and economic crises, through grant programs, loan restructuring, debt relief, and tailored advisory services. More recently, Wacif joined Morning Consult to launch the Small Business Resilience Fund campaign. Wacif has also made over $5 million in grant awards to entrepreneurs impacted by the pandemic through multiple partnerships, including the DC Co-op Impact Grant launched in partnership with Capital Impact Partners, and the Minnesota Avenue Small Business Resilience Fund administered by the Minnesota Avenue Main Street and supported by the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development.
The dramatic increase in capital deployment has taken Wacif’s balance sheet above $10 million for the first time in the organization’s history, with an intentional focus on investing in communities of need. Through lending, Wacif deployed 100% of its capital to entrepreneurs of color in 2018, and 96% in 2019. Similarly, Wacif designed and deployed tailored business advisory services to help entrepreneurs pivot their business models, access diverse forms of financing, and manage their mental and physical health. In 2019, 84% of Wacif’s advisory services clients were entrepreneurs of color, and more than 60% of its advisory services clients were women.
About the Washington Area Community Investment Fund
The Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. (Wacif) is one of the Washington, DC. metropolitan’s 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, D.C. area by investing knowledge, social, and financial capital in low-and-moderate-income entrepreneurs. In the last five years, Wacif has deployed nearly $10 million in capital to underserved communities throughout the region. To learn more about Wacif’s mission, visit www.wacif.org.
Pepco is a unit of Exelon Corporation (Nasdaq: EXC), the nation’s leading energy provider, with approximately 10 million customers. Pepco provides safe and reliable energy service to approximately 894,000 customers in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Learn more at http://pepco.com