Carolina Small Business Development Fund has been awarded a $2.8 million grant to support economic development through its growing partnerships with the state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The initiative, made possible through the Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital program, will provide small business coaching and access to flexible loans geared towards African-American entrepreneurs.
“Our experience working with minority-owned small businesses reveals that, due to systemic challenges, they are disproportionately reliant on financing through home equity or credit cards, which inhibits the growth of their ventures,” said Lenwood V. Long, President and CEO of Carolina Small Business. “Through this initiative, one of our primary goals is to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship, increase access to capital, and enhance economic development, both on HBCU campuses and in minority-owned businesses in their service area.”
The funding allows Carolina Small Business to expand its outreach through North Carolina’s network of HBCUs, among the largest in the nation. At launch, partner institutions include Shaw University, Johnson C. Smith University, Elizabeth City State University, and Fayetteville State University. Over the next three years, with this funding, the number of participating HBCUs will increase to build small business capacities for hundreds of minority entrepreneurs statewide through group, one-on-one and online training.
“The Diverse Community Capital program is one of many ways Wells Fargo demonstrates its commitment to helping small businesses start, stabilize and grow,” said Joanna LeClair, Community Development manager for Wells Fargo in Raleigh. “Thanks to the support Carolina Small Business is receiving, more diverse-owned small businesses will be provided the capital, technical assistance and other resources they need to help make their businesses – and ultimately, our communities – even stronger.”
Carolina Small Business is one of nine Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) across the nation to receive a share of $18.5 million in the most recent round of Diverse Community Capital program grants.
Carolina Small Business fosters economic development in underserved communities through access to capital, business services and policy research. Since 2010, the nonprofit CDFI has invested more than $57.5 million through 698 loans to small businesses across North Carolina helping to create or retain more than 2,538 jobs.