FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, March 9, 2017
Jeremy Cullimore, (202) 529-5505
Wacif Launches New Entrepreneurship Accelerator to Spur Business Growth and Capital Readiness in the District
The Ascend Capital Accelerator will focus on local minority and women entrepreneurs to successfully navigate business growth
Washington, D.C. (March 9, 2017) – The Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. (Wacif) today announces the launch of the Ascend Capital Accelerator, an intensive eight-week program which offers selected entrepreneurs with the opportunity to strengthen their business model and ability to access growth capital. Ascend will increase entrepreneurs’ financial capability, deepen capital readiness, and position entrepreneurs to successfully access capital from Wacif or other bank partners throughout the region.
Ascend was designed to address the inequities in capital access and wealth creation for women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color in the District of Columbia. Nationally, white-owned businesses are valued 2.9 times higher than businesses owned by people of color. In the District, the gap in business value is even greater at 3.7 times the value. Similarly, with gender the District falls behind national averages. Locally, male-owned businesses are valued 3.4 times that of women entrepreneurs, ranking the District in the bottom 1/3 of the nation. Entrepreneurship is a major driver of wealth creation, and barriers to capital access have increased the wealth disparity the District faces today, where white households have a net worth 81 times greater than the households of African-Americans.
“For financial capital to be more catalytic for women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color, Wacif is deepening its investment in entrepreneurs’ social and knowledge capital,” said Harold Pettigrew, Wacif’s Executive Director. “The Ascend Capital Accelerator leverages a proven venture capital business model, and applies the strategy to connect entrepreneurs whose ideas and growth prospects can be positioned for greater industry and economic success. Equity is central to Wacif’s work, and Ascend aligns with our goal of providing targeted programs and financial services that bridge the stark gap of capital access in the District of Columbia.”
The first cohort of the Ascend Capital Accelerator will launch in April 2017. The eight-week accelerator will enable 25 local entrepreneurs from various industries to maximize their ability to obtain and utilize capital. This hands-on, asset-based development program consists of an interactive workshop series combined with small group matching and wraparound individualized support, with the goal of building human and financial assets for local small businesses.
The Ascend Capital Accelerator is made possible by the generous support of the District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Capital One, Citi Community Development, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. To apply and for more information, please visit www.wacif.org/ascend.
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), whose mission is to empower underserved communities by providing access to capital and technical assistance. Since 1987, Wacif has invested over $24 million in strategic financing to small businesses, child care and community facilities, and affordable housing developments in underserved communities throughout the Washington, D.C. region. Learn more at www.wacif.org, on Twitter and Facebook.