Signature Initiatives

Signature Small Business Initiatives

Wacif has launched numerous programs and signature initiatives designed to offer entrepreneurs a variety of services to start, develop, and grow small businesses.

  • Greater Washington, D.C. Entrepreneurs of Color Fund

    In February 2019, Wacif joined community and financial leaders to launch the Greater Washington, D.C. Entrepreneurs of Color Fund, a $6.65 million investment that directly supports Wacif’s commitment to equity and will forge new pathways for entrepreneurship and wealth building in the region’s underserved communities. With partners including JPMorgan Chase, Capital Impact Partners, the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation, the Latino Economic Development Center, and Harbor Bank, the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund will pair low-cost capital with business advisory services, including networking support and coaching. Begin our intake process or reach out to to learn more.

  • DC Employee Ownership Initiative

    Wacif, in partnership with Citi Community Development, has launched the DC Employee Ownership Initiative, a strategic investment to preserve legacy businesses and create new pathways to entrepreneurship. The Democracy at Work Initiative projects that nearly 40% of D.C. area African-American business owners are nearing retirement. To strengthen the local employee ownership ecosystem, Wacif will provide advisory services, access to capital, and stakeholder engagement, helping businesses pursue conversion and supporting the growth of existing and emerging employee-owned enterprises. Contact Jennifer Bryant at to learn more about this work or to become a partner.

  • 11th Street Bridge Park Equitable Development Partnership

    In September 2017, JPMorgan Chase & Co., announced the 11th Street Bridge Park as a national winner of its Partnerships for Raising Opportunity in Neighborhoods (PRO Neighborhoods) annual competition. The winning collaborative, which is led by Building Bridges Across the River, and comprises a partnership between the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif), City First Enterprises, and the Skyland Workforce Center, will receive $5 million over the next three years to make strategic investments on goals outlined in the 11th Street Bridge Park’s Equitable Development Plan. The collaborative will work together to develop and preserve affordable housing near the 11th Street Bridge, provide capital to minority and locally-owned small businesses, and provide construction training to local residents for work on the 11th Street Bridge Park. Read more on the PRO Neighborhoods Partnership.

  • Minnesota Avenue Main Street Initiative

    At its 30th annual event, Wacif unveiled its designation by the Washington, D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) as the operator to launch the newest main street east of the Anacostia River. The new main street program is designated for the intersection of the Minnesota Avenue NE and Benning Road commercial corridor in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 7, also known as Downtown Ward 7. The new Minnesota Avenue Main Street is one of four new main street programs designated to join the city’s existing 12 main street programs. DC Main Streets, a program of DSLBD, builds on the Main Street Approach® that was developed by the National Main Street Center in 1980 to assist commercial revitalization efforts nationwide. Read more on the Minnesota Avenue Main Street Initiative.

  • Ascend 2020 DC Partnership

    As a part of its Small Business Forward Initiative JPMorgan Chase & Co. is investing $500,000 in Ascend 2020 DC – a new partnership between Project 500 and the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif), and Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC). Small Business Forward is JPMorgan Chase’s global initiative to accelerate the growth of small businesses by connecting women, minority, and veteran-owned firms to capital with highly targeted technical assistance and support networks. Read more on the Ascend 2020 DC Partnership.

Past Initiatives

  • Work for Yourself@50+ Initiative

    AARP Foundation has awarded a generous grant to the Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. (Wacif) to launch the Work for Yourself@50+ initiative in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. This national grant initiative is designed to help vulnerable older adults assess opportunities for self-employment, build skills, and connect with resources that will enable them to generate income by working for themselves. Read more on the Work for Yourself@50+ Initiative.

  • Enterprise DC Entrepreneurship Initiative

    In 2013, Wacif launched Enterprise DC, a 2-year program funded by the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) to provide training to educate and coach aspiring entrepreneurs, who were all unemployed or underemployed, to start their own microenterprises. Wacif led a collaborative of local organizations which included Byte Back, a local, nonprofit technology training organization, and the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which provided small business mentors for the program participants. The 9-week intensive business training included 50 participants, all unemployed or underemployed and people of color, and was followed by six months of coaching (technical assistance), access to a mentor, and follow-up sessions. Program participants received over 145 hours of mentoring from 26 mentors. Read more on the Enterprise DC Initiative.

  • FastTracDC Entrepreneurship Initiative

    In partnership with the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), Wacif was a lead local organization to launch the FastTrac DC program, an innovative citywide partnership to foster the growth and success of local entrepreneurs. FastTrac is a curriculum developed by the Kauffman Foundation that equips aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with the business skills and insights, tools, resources, and networks to start and grow successful businesses. The curriculum consisted of ten FastTrac New Venture modules which Wacif augmented by introducing participants to the local DC business community and offering additional optional sessions for participants who struggled with the financial modules in FastTrac. Wacif is a certified provider of the curriculum, and provided the FastTrac course to 41 aspiring entrepreneurs, who were all unemployed or underemployed and people of color, from across the District of Columbia.