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A woman in a white shirt with blue trim sits smiling at the camera with her hands on a desk in front of her. Artwork is on the wall behind her.
Karen Cooper, owner of Comprehensive and Cosmetic Dental, received a $10,000 resilience grant to help keep her Ward 7 business afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Financial Health
June 12, 2020

Wells Fargo supports Washington, D.C., small businesses with $1 million in COVID-19 relief funding

The donation will address needs in communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 by helping small businesses in Washington’s diverse and underserved communities obtain funding and support.

A woman in a white shirt with blue trim sits smiling at the camera with her hands on a desk in front of her. Artwork is on the wall behind her.
Karen Cooper, owner of Comprehensive and Cosmetic Dental, received a $10,000 resilience grant to help keep her Ward 7 business afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Washington, D.C., small business owner Kianna Fowlkes knew she’d need to quickly adapt her shuttle bus transportation company to address her clients’ heightened health concerns.

With financing help from nonprofit lender City First Enterprises, a local Community Development Financial Institution, the Shuttle Bus Company was able to expand its fleet of buses to include a new COVID-19-compliant shuttle bus service aimed at mobilizing local business and health communities in the wake of reopening.

The reconfigured shuttles include socially distanced seating, protective barriers throughout, and other key safety protocols. The Shuttle Bus Company, based in Washington’s Ward 8, is now the only woman-owned fleet management company in the world.

With many local diverse-owned small businesses facing similar challenges, Wells Fargo has donated $1 million to City First Enterprises, the Washington Area Community Investment Fund, and the Latino Economic Development Council. All three nonprofit lenders help entrepreneurs from Washington’s diverse and underserved communities obtain funding and support for their small businesses.

“As a financial institution serving low-income communities, we are extremely concerned about the deepening gap COVID-19 is leaving behind. 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. The need for close collaboration among nonprofits, the public sector, and corporations has never been this crucial.” — Oswaldo Acosta, City First Enterprises president and executive director

“As a financial institution serving low-income communities, we are extremely concerned about the deepening gap COVID-19 is leaving behind. 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,” said City First Enterprises President and Executive Director Oswaldo Acosta. “The need for close collaboration among nonprofits, the public sector, and corporations has never been this crucial.”

The support has also helped Dr. Karen Cooper, the owner of Comprehensive and Cosmetic Dental on Minnesota Avenue’s commercial corridor in Ward 7. The practice has been continuously operated by diverse entrepreneurs for more than 60 years. After receiving a $10,000 resilience grant through the Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Cooper and her team have been able to purchase air filters and personal protective equipment, while still covering payroll for the staff.

Wells Fargo responds to COVID-19

We’re taking action every day to support our employees, customers, and communities during this challenging time. Read about the actions we are taking, what our strategists are saying about market volatility, how to conduct banking from the safety of your home, and more.

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In Washington’s Ward 5 neighborhood, registered dietician and chef Jessica Swift has used debt relief from the Washington Area Community Investment Fund to move her Chef Jess catering and meal delivery service to a commissary-style kitchen. Despite COVID-19 causing a decrease in her catering revenue, she’s been able to keep her business afloat by creating a meal-matching partnership with her existing clients. This has allowed Chef Jess to provide meals to frontline workers, including more than 100 meals to Holy Cross Hospital in the Washington suburbs.

“Now more than ever, small businesses, and the investments we make in them, are critical to reviving the economy,” said Harold Pettigrew, chief executive officer the Washington Area Community Investment Fund. “During this health crisis, we’ve worked tirelessly to ensure that small businesses across the region have access to the resources needed to survive. 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.”

Wells Fargo has committed a total of $10 million in philanthropic capital to Community Development Financial Institution’s nationwide to provide relief for the self-employed and small business owners in the wake of the pandemic. 

The bank is also taking additional steps to support its small business customers facing coronavirus-related challenges. For customers who tell the bank that they’re unable to make payment on a small business loan, mortgage, or other products, Wells Fargo is granting three-month payment suspensions and waiving late fees. The bank continues to help small business customers to access forgivable small business loans through the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program created by the coronavirus relief bill.

As of May 31, Wells Fargo has helped 161,000 small business applications receive funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration, totaling $9.6 billion. More than 80% of the funding has been approved for companies that have less than 10 employees, with an average loan amount of $60,000.

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