ATLANTA – Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) announced last week that it is providing $22.3 million in lending capital and grants to 15 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) selected for round one of the Wells Fargo Works for Small Business®: Diverse Community Capital program. Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) in Atlanta is one of the 15 CDFIs receiving funds to help support diverse-owned small businesses to start or grow. The CDFI will receive a $350,000 grant and $1.1 million in lending capital that will be used to lend to small business owners.
CDFIs are private, nonprofit financial institutions that assist underserved populations. The three-year Diverse Community Capital (DCC) program will provide a total of $75 million in lending and grant capital over six selection rounds to CDFIs that support diverse-owned small businesses. ACE learned it was receiving funds from Wells Fargo just as the organization was moving into a new building.
“We are just opening the doors to our new office space here in the Flatiron Building and this new location makes us much better positioned to be accessible to business owners,” said Grace Fricks, CEO of ACE. “One of the things this infusion of support from Wells Fargo will allow us to do is hire and train more staff to reach more under-served entrepreneurs who are truly ready to take the next steps toward success.”
ACE supports small business owners in 68 Georgia counties, more than any other CDFI in the state. The organization provides lending services to those small business owners or hopeful entrepreneurs seeking to start or expand a business who may not qualify for traditional financing.
How CDFIs make a difference
Tennille Carter grew up in New Orleans. With a knack for numbers and a take-charge, sociable personality, she dreamed of someday running her own business. When Hurricane Katrina devastated her hometown, she migrated with other evacuees to Atlanta, found a job as an accountant at an envelope company, and decided to stay put.
“I liked my job, but ever since I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be my own boss,” she said. “Entrepreneurs just have that different mindset – we’d rather not punch a clock! So I started planning.”
Her employer was supportive, allowing her to temporarily work part-time so she could use her spare time to start building a base of clients. In 2007, she launched Atlanta Bookkeeping Solutions, LLC, where the clients are primarily businesses.
With capital and business counseling from ACE, Carter developed a marketing strategy to lure bigger, more diverse clients and hired two staff members to help with data entry.
“Instead of just lending me the money and that’s it, ACE helped me with advisory services, which are extra nice because they’re free and part of the deal!” she says. “I learned so much at one of ACE’s workshops called ‘Planning for Prosperity.’ Those services really help the business grow instead of just getting by and staying at a certain plateau.”
Through Tennille’s determination and the financial and educational support from ACE, Atlanta Bookkeeping Solutions is currently in its 9th year of profit and will likely land its 75th client by the end of this quarter.
About the Diverse Community Capital program
The Wells Fargo Works for Small Business®: Diverse Community Capital program launched in November 2015. More than 100 CDFIs indicated interest in the program’s first round and Wells Fargo will distribute a total of $5.67 million in grants and $16.67 million in lending capital to the 15 CDFIs selected.
“The Diverse Community Capital program is one of many ways Wells Fargo demonstrates its commitment to helping small businesses start, stabilize, and grow, and we’re excited that CDFIs are showing such interest in the program,” said Mike Rizer, Wells Fargo’s head of Community Relations. “CDFIs are vital to the success of many small businesses and the additional capital, technical assistance and other support these 15 CDFIs will be able to provide to the diverse-owned small businesses in their communities will help make those businesses, and ultimately, our communities, even stronger.”
CDFIs interested in the program’s second round can submit an interest form through June 1.