Washington, D.C. (July 6, 2021) – The Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. (Wacif) announced today that it was awarded $1,500,000 from Wells Fargo to launch the Greater Washington Small Business Resilience Center. The grant is made possible through Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, a roughly $420 million small business recovery effort across the U.S.
“The pandemic along with natural disasters has increased the vulnerability of entrepreneurs across the region, especially those involved with long-term construction projects. Disruption is the new normal.” said Wacif CEO Harold Pettigrew, Jr. “With the launch of the Greater Washington Small Business Resilience Center, we are proud to build on our long-term, strategic relationship with Wells Fargo, and to provide a new set of solutions to support and position underserved entrepreneurs to drive regional economic recovery.”
Wacif joins five other local organizations receiving funding through the Open for Business Fund, a national initiative engaging Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and nonprofits to provide much-needed capital, technical expertise, and long-term resiliency programs to small businesses who have been hard hit by COVID-19. Through May, the Open for Business Fund has helped a projected 35,000 minority-owned small businesses keep an estimated 90,000 jobs nationwide.
“The Open for Business Fund enlists the care and expertise of organizations like Wacif to urgently assist the small business community and to help navigate entrepreneurs back to growth,” said Jenny Flores, head of Small Business Growth Philanthropy at Wells Fargo. “Small Business owners inspire us with their resilience. It is incumbent on all of us to help enable an inclusive economic recovery for these entrepreneurs and the neighborhoods they support.”
Recognizing that entrepreneurs face a new normalcy of disruption, and that resilience resources need to be in place before the next major disruption, Wacif is using the Open for Business grant to launch the Greater Washington Small Business Resilience Center (Resilience Center). The Resilience Center makes resilience-tailored financial capital and business advisory services available to underserved entrepreneurs. Wacif launched the Resilience Center’s services in April, with a formal program and website launch planned for later this summer.
The Resilience Center will further deepen Wacif’s role as a key, trusted partner in the region’s economic recovery. In 2020, Wacif served as a lead partner in D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Small Business Recovery Microgrant program, part of more than $11 million in comprehensive financial relief Wacif deployed to more than 1,800 entrepreneurs, ultimately supporting almost 19,000 jobs in the District. In recognition of its impact in 2020, Wacif received the Washington Business Journal’s Citizenship Award for launching a small business resilience fund with market research firm Morning Consult, as well as receiving Mayor Bowser’s Spirit of Service Award for launching innovative public private partnerships to support small businesses.
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 (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. To learn more about Wacif’s mission, visit www.wacif.org.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.92 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,200 locations, more than 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 31 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 30 on Fortune’s 2020 rankings of America’s largest corporations. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.