ABOVE PHOTO: From left; Joseph Kirk, Region Bank President, Wells Fargo; Lynne Cutler, President, Women’s Opportunities Resource Center; Stephen Briggs, Vice President, Wells Fargo; A.J. Jordan, President, Wells Fargo Foundation and Tiffany Tavarez, Vice President of Community Relations, Wells Fargo Foundation.
Wells Fargo & Company recently announced Philadelphia -based WORC was awarded $350,000 in grant funds through the Wells Fargo “Works for Small Business: Diverse Community Capital” program at Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse. The Diverse Community Capital program awards lending capital and grants to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), like WORC, which in turn deliver responsible, affordable financial products to diverse small business owners who do not typically have access to conventional financing. WORC is one of three Philadelphia organizations to receive an award in the nationwide funding competition. Total grant funds to the city and its surrounding counties totaled $1.5 million. Wells Fargo has now exceeded its initial $75 million commitment for the Diverse Community Capital program, and an additional $100 million from the Wells Fargo Foundation has already been pledged to continue the program at least into 2020.
With the latest round of funding, Wells Fargo reaffirmed its commitment to CDFIs serving urban centers like Philadelphia, recognizing the importance of supporting diverse small businesses in the nation’s largest cities. The funding will allow WORC to scale up lending to diverse owned small businesses through both step lending to existing borrowers and an outreach campaign into targeted untapped communities. WORC’s strategy represents an expansion of the organization’s existing, proven track record in lending to businesses in greater Philadelphia.
“As Pennsylvania’s oldest microenterprise and with a strong emphasis on poverty alleviation, we are extremely proud the Wells Fargo Foundation selected us for such an impressive grant to assist some of the city and regions most vulnerable businesses,” said Lynne Cutler, president of the Women’s Opportunities Resource Center. “Small and diverse businesses have a positive impact on our economy and we realize that support from our financial institutions are key to the growth, vitality and sustainability.”
Across the country, Diverse Community Capital awardees have closed more than $391 million through more than 8,000 loans to diverse small business clients. Diverse small businesses that received loans from awardee CDFIs have retained more than 21,000 jobs and created more than 15,000 jobs as a result of accessing the capital and development services they needed.
The Diverse Community Capital program is collaboration between Wells Fargo and Opportunity Finance Network, a national network of CDFIs. Opportunity Finance Network offers a social capital component of the program, which focuses on helping CDFIs grow stronger through activities including in-person networking, mentorship, consulting and peer learning.
Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Eastern Pennsylvania District announced the Women’s Opportunities Resource Center (WORC) as SBA’s newest SBA Community Advantage Lender. “Our Community Advantage program is designed to meet the credit, management, and technical assistance needs of small businesses in underserved markets,” said SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Acting Director Steve Dixel.