February 24, 2022 -- Wells Fargo today announced a $20 million donation to the Houston Fund for Social Justice and Economic Equity, also known as the Houston Equity Fund, to provide small business owners with new ways to grow and own more of their businesses. The Houston Equity Fund will distribute the funding in the form of grants towards the purchase of property, equipment and other tangible assets, supporting economic development in underserved communities. The funding is estimated to reach more than 500 small businesses in Houston.
The donation comes from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, a roughly $420 million national small business recovery effort with a focus on racially and ethnically diverse small business owners, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The fund was created from the gross processing fees that Wells Fargo received from Paycheck Protection Program loans made in 2020. Wells Fargo has donated funds to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and local nonprofits across the nation.
“Fostering an inclusive economic recovery and helping small businesses sustain themselves and grow in the wake of COVID-19 is a priority for us,” said Charlie Scharf, Wells Fargo’s CEO. “As a company, we have a commitment to make the communities where we operate stronger, and to do it at a very local level. Today’s donation is one of the largest we’ve made from the Open for Business Fund, and we know it will make a difference for small business owners here in Houston.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner serves as the Honorary Board Chair of the Houston Fund for Social Justice and Economic Equity.
“Small businesses play an important role in the Houston economy and it is a benefit for our city to provide every tool needed to help them succeed,” said Mayor Turner. “This Wells Fargo grant program will allow small business owners to innovate, expand, and evolve in a way that improves their investments while also maintaining our reputation as a great place for economic development and company growth.”
“Many people from diverse communities dream of being their own boss and creating jobs for others, but those dreams seem impossible when you don’t have the basic resources or information to support your business,” said Diana Rosas, owner of Que Bonito Mexican and Fashion, who benefited from a women entrepreneurs program at the Houston Community College Foundation, a previous Open for Business Fund grantee. “The Open for Business Fund helped me gain knowledge to strengthen my business model, develop better money management skills, and enhance my marketing strategy. It was a blessing. I have the confidence to go to the next level.”
With the donation, The Houston Equity Fund aims to equip small business owners and nonprofits with capital to purchase commercial property, equipment and technology upgrades, particularly in underserved communities. For more information, visit houstonequityfund.com.
“The Houston Equity Fund is committed to bridging the gap in economic equity while simultaneously infusing hope into the business trajectory of underrepresented and under-resourced small businesses and nonprofits,” said Thomas Jones, Houston Equity Fund’s Board President. “We are honored to work with Wells Fargo to make impactful and transformational change for minority-owned small businesses and nonprofit organizations across our city.”
Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund has previously supported Houston small businesses through grants to LiftFund and the Houston Community College Foundation, and other local grants enabled nonprofits such as the University of Houston Foundation, Texas Black Expo, Impact Hub Houston, and the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans to serve entrepreneurs.
Open for Business Fund grantees are estimated to reach more than 152,000 small business owners nationally and will help entrepreneurs maintain an estimated 255,000 jobs. Roughly 85% of small businesses served by grantees are Black, African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American small business owners. Wells Fargo also offers a Small Business Resource Center where entrepreneurs can explore business planning, financing considerations, and practical advice.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a leading financial services company that has approximately $1.9 trillion in assets, proudly serves one in three U.S. households and more than 10% of small businesses in the U.S., and is the leading middle market banking provider in the U.S. We provide a diversified set of banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through our four reportable operating segments: Consumer Banking and Lending, Commercial Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking, and Wealth & Investment Management. Wells Fargo ranked No. 37 on Fortune’s 2021 rankings of America’s largest corporations. In the communities we serve, the company focuses its social impact on building a sustainable, inclusive future for all by supporting housing affordability, small business growth, financial health, and a low-carbon economy. News, insights, and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.