Wells Fargo has shown to be an avid supporter of the community, and the company provides many services to small businesses, such as small business loans. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many small businesses to suffer, and minority-owned business owners have seen more losses than others in the industry. To help combat this issue, Wells Fargo introduced the Open For Business program. This program is funded by donations from the Paycheck Protection Program’s processing fees, and they are gross donations as opposed to net. Wells Fargo will not collect any fees from the program but will donate the funds to nonprofit organizations.
Nonprofit lenders and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) will receive the first $28 million. CDFIs focus primarily on black-owned small businesses. Many black-owned businesses were forced to shut their doors because of the pandemic. The program also includes the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) and the Expanding Black Business Credit Initiative (EBBC). LISC will provide grants and low-interest loans to more than 2,500 entrepreneurs, and EBBC will help keep small businesses open in areas that were significantly impacted by the pandemic. EBBC will also provide funding to help businesses keep employees on staff. Wells Fargo made a commitment to donate up to $50 million to Minority Depository Institutions for small business loans and mortgage loans to minorities. Before the Open For Business Program, Wells Fargo donated $170 million to help fight COVID-19.
Nate Hurst is the chief sustainability and social impact officer at Wells Fargo. He explained that the company hopes to collaborate with NGOs, governments, and businesses to develop solutions that are beneficial for everyone involved. When it comes to mortgage lending, Wells Fargo is the leading bank in the United States. Hurst stated that housing is a human right, and when there’s a health crisis or economic downturn, everyone should be able to make rent or mortgage payments.
Wells Fargo is helping its employees during the pandemic. The company is giving funds to employees who are in need, which may include a team member with a spouse who lost their job. Wells Fargo is also coming up with innovative ideas that can further assist the community. For instance, Hurst explained that the company is looking at opportunities to help Feeding America and the bank’s parking lots could be an ideal place for mobile food banks.