New York, NY – September 17, 2021: The Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund has awarded Ascendus a $2 million grant to help small businesses get back to growing again.
Thanks to Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, a roughly $420 million small business recovery effort, Ascendus will deploy $1,288,000 of smart, tailored capital and over 275 hours of direct one-on-one education to entrepreneurs of color who otherwise face the daunting threat of permanent closure. Critically, 100% of these individuals will be entrepreneurs of color, with the majority identifying as Black or Latinx – demographic groups that historically face immense difficulty securing traditional financial services.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Ascendus has been focused on delivering financial relief and recovery to the most vulnerable small business owners in the communities we serve. Support from the Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund ensures entrepreneurs of color will have access to the capital they need to keep their doors open and build back better and stronger than ever. Together we can power a wave of financial resiliency and ascension for those who need it most,” said Paul Quintero, CEO of Ascendus.
But the impact of this work extends beyond the business owners who will keep their doors open because of the investment. Beneficiaries of the programs will be on the front lines of the economic recovery as the dual public health and economic crises endure. This program will bridge small businesses past the recession, enabling them to survive and retain jobs in the short term, while positioning them for growth and job creation in the long term. As a result, small business owners will recover and emerge from the pandemic even stronger and more resilient.
So far, Ascendus has provided more than $700,000 in capital through the Open for Business Fund directly to small business owners like Juan.
Juan Arroyave’s company, Kikos Coffee and Tea, was just starting to expand when the pandemic hit. “We lost all the business because of COVID,” Juan said. “It was a tough year. Cost of goods went up, shipping costs went up, marketing prices went up, sales went down, clients closed their businesses.” Despite those challenges, Ascendus helped to provide some certainty through the Wells Fargo Open for Business loan. This support from Ascendus allowed Kikos, a MWBE- and LGBTQ-certified company, to pivot from making coffee drinks to canning coffee and tea, which Juan sold directly to consumers. This allowed Juan to continue his business and the philanthropic initiatives Kikos is committed to, like donating 500 lbs of coffee to charities working on the frontline of the pandemic.
Ascendus believes in the bold vision of creating financial ascension for those who have been systemically excluded from financial opportunity. For over 30 years, we’ve provided small business owners – primarily BIPOC, women and immigrants – with the tools to move up, improve their lives, care for their families, and contribute to their communities. We’ve placed over $200 million into the hands of 24,000 small businesses through our programs in New York, Massachusetts, Florida and nationally. Our history includes a long track record as an economic first responder in times of disaster, dating back to the September 11th attacks in downtown Manhattan, and continuing through Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Hurricane Irma in 2017, and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. More at ascendus.org.
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.