Raza Development Fund Supports Small Businesses Thanks to Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Program
“It is important to work towards breaking down long-lasting barriers to ensure underserved entrepreneurs can access the capital, networks, resources, and opportunities they need to achieve their business goals and dreams.” – U.S. Small Business Administration’s Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman
As a Community Development Financial Institution, we are committed to supporting the small business community, especially in core markets that lack equitable access to capital.
Thankfully, our partners at Wells Fargo agree. Wells Fargo had created an Open for Business program for this very purpose and awarded RDF $3.5 million from the grant fund.
We wanted to avoid parachuting into communities, and instead strived to deploy these funds in a culturally competent model that invoked trust with small businesses across the country.
True to our mission as a partner and support corporation to UnidosUS, we tapped into the UnidosUS Affiliate network that’s already working in the small business space. These community-based organizations know their constituencies’ practical concerns and have built solid trusting relationships with them that allowed them to act quickly.
We connected with Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (Phoenix), Hacienda CDC (Portland, OR), Enterprising Latinas (Tampa, FL), Maestro Entrepreneurship Center (San Antonio, TX) and Northeast Ohio Hispanic Center for Economic Development (Cleveland, Ohio) to deploy low-cost small business loans in their local markets.
Thanks to their combined efforts, we were able to provide a combined total of over 90 small business loans totaling more than $4M, to help these entrepreneurs cover a wide range of business purposes, including equipment purchases and growth capital.
We are incredibly appreciative of these affiliate partners and Wells Fargo. Together, this unique approach to small business lending was successful.
As the program has now concluded, our RDF team has taken a step back to review the entire scope of the program to explore our experience. We created a report to summarize our analysis in hopes other organizations can learn from the lessons we gained to continue to serve and support our small business industry.
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