Long-term commitment helps small businesses thrive
Where We Live helps small businesses take the next step in Washington, D.C.
Last year, Push Studio ran into a problem. The landscape urban design firm needed another full-time designer, new equipment, and additional working capital to keep up with its increased workload and to pursue more lucrative contracts. Unable to secure a loan from traditional financial outlets, they looked for another solution. They found City First Enterprises, a Community Development Financial Institution, or CDFI, that gave them the small business loan — and the business assistance so they were ready for the loan — enabling them to grow.
“City First Enterprises was different,” said Vinson J. Hustvedt-Camacho, Push Studio’s founding partner and studio director. “They were open from the beginning — there was no hesitation. No matter how big or how small, they wanted to grow with us. It felt like they were happy to be part of our business growth.”
Both Push Studio and City First Enterprises benefited from the Where We Live program, developed in partnership with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and local community organizations. In 2018, Wells Fargo announced a five-year, $1.6 billion lending and philanthropic investment in Washington, D.C., neighborhoods to unlock economic opportunity in the areas of small business growth, financial health, housing affordability, and workforce development. Part of Where We Live is a $16 million philanthropic commitment that includes $4 million for CDFIs like City First Enterprises to grow the small business community.
“The investments through the Where We Live program have gone beyond Band-Aids to societal problems and really looked at how we can create solutions to prevent those problems in the first place, or provide solutions that allow the elimination of those problems,” said Monica Mitchell, vice president of corporate Philanthropy and Community Development. “Our commitment is investing, in some cases multiyear grants, to provide nonprofits with the capacity and the time to deal with some of these issues that have been decades-long problems. And recognizing that you can't solve these issues in the course of a six-month grant, sometimes you need longer. Sometimes you need a little bit more runway, and with that runway can come incredible results.”
Small Business Marketplace
The small business marketplace at the 2022 Wells Fargo Championship featured golf-adjacent businesses, including Le Printemps. The flower shop is one of the Washington, D.C., small businesses that benefited from Where We Live.