Wells Fargo donates $1 million to help DC small businesses

This content is sponsored by Wells Fargo.

Business owners have had to turn on a dime and adapt to unfamiliar circumstances during the coronavirus pandemic, an effort made even more difficult due to plummeting revenue and new pandemic-related restrictions.

But some businesses in the nation’s capital are getting a boost with the help of Wells Fargo, which has donated $1 million to support small D.C. businesses, focusing on business owners from diverse and low-to-moderate income communities.

Wells Fargo granted the funds to three local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which are institutions that can help business owners from underserved communities access funding that they might otherwise be unable to qualify for through traditional banking options.

The CDFIs include the Washington Area Community Investment Fund, the Latino Economic Development Center and City First Enterprises.

“Now more than ever, small businesses, and the investments we make in them, are critical to reviving the economy,” said Harold Pettigrew, CEO of the Washington Area Community Investment Fund. “We’re thankful to stand with our partners at Wells Fargo, and invest in the inspiring entrepreneurs who create jobs and economic opportunity in the Greater Washington Metropolitan Region.”

Dr. Karen Cooper, who runs the “Comprehensive and Cosmetic Dental” practice in Northeast D.C., received a $10,000 grant through the Washington Area Community Investment Fund.

Cooper’s practice, which has been operated by entrepreneurs of color for more than 60 years, was able to use the funding to cover payroll and purchase items that can help with safety during the pandemic, including air filters and personal protective equipment.

Another business that has benefited from the Wells Fargo effort is The Shuttle Bus Company, a minority-and woman-owned business in Southwest D.C. that manages shuttle transportation for commercial and government organizations.

The company received a $200,000 line of credit through the City First Enterprises CDFI, providing the business with critical short-term financing to meet its operating expenses while awaiting payments from customers under various contracts. It also helped owner Kianna Fowlkes expand her fleet of buses to include a new COVID-19 Compliant Shuttle Bus Service.

“As a financial institution serving low-income communities, we are extremely concerned about the deepening gap COVID-19 is leaving behind,” said Oswaldo Acosta, president of City First Enterprises. “It is becoming increasingly clear that low income households, communities of color and small businesses across the nation are experiencing a magnified version of this crisis.”

In addition to the $1 million initiative in D.C., Wells Fargo is taking other steps to support small business owners and customers during the pandemic.

Those steps include granting 3-month payment suspensions, waiving late fees, and working to help small businesses access funding through the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses.

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