On August 18, Wells Fargo announced a new wave of support for entrepreneurs, including “Connect to More,” a mentoring program for 500 women-owned businesses, as well as the second phase of funding for 93 nonprofits through Wells Fargo’s “Open for Business Fund,” which will include access to experts that will help the benefitting nonprofits grow their businesses.
“Access to trusted expertise helps small businesses move from surviving to thriving,” said Jenny Flores, head of Small Business Growth Philanthropy at Wells Fargo. “For many small businesses, having access to mentorship and trusted experts in areas like marketing, business planning, technology and legal can be a critical turning point for getting back to growth.”
Connect to More for women entrepreneurs
Connect to More is one example of how we’re supporting the success and sustainability of women-owned businesses through access to expertise and specialized resources. As part of the program, Wells Fargo partnered with the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center where women entrepreneurs can gain complimentary support through its signature Milestone Mapping Coaching Circles. Born from the challenges of COVID-19, participants get hands-on help setting and reaching business goals from a network of peer mentors and industry experts.
“As an entrepreneur, you don’t always have the time to sit and reflect on your business, it’s always go go go,” said Ruby Taylor, owner of Financial Joy School, and a current Circle participant. “Not only does this program give you that time, but it also includes a support system of amazing women. So far I’ve walked away with concrete marketing and social media strategies to promote more brand awareness for my business.”
“I love this program’s heart-centered approach and how it’s helping me clarify the value and mission of my business,” said Amy Li, Founder & CEO of Dance4Healing, another current Circle participant. “Because my company is all about bridging creative arts and health care using technology, I’ve struggled with how to make it sustainable while also doing good. The Circle has helped me set milestone goals to develop a sales channel strategy and connect with the right support I need for my business to thrive toward a greater ecosystem.”
Connect to More will offer Milestone Mapping Coaching Circles throughout the year and into 2022 with the goal of helping 500 women-owned businesses. Each Circle is open to all women-identifying business owners in the U.S. and provides a biweekly opportunity for women entrepreneurs to work through specific challenges, celebrate milestones, attend workshops, and connect with small business experts and mentors. Those interested in applying must complete an application, and upon acceptance, will be placed in a Circle.
“As a non-profit committed to access and equity in entrepreneurship, we are grateful for this opportunity to help 500 women-owned businesses accelerate their personal growth as leaders and gain support as they solve big problems that make their families and communities stronger,” says Nicola Corzine, executive director of the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center. “We believe accelerating women business owners’ influence and economic opportunities are critical to addressing the intolerable wealth gap.”
Open for Business Fund announces technical assistance grants
The company is also distributing more than $55 million to 93 nonprofits from its Open for Business Fund, a roughly $420 million small business recovery effort. These grants will make experts in business planning, accounting, financial management, legal, marketing and more available to small business owners for coaching and guidance.
According to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), small businesses with access to expertise have a lot to gain including a “30% difference in average annual revenue growth for a sample of businesses that got support compared to their peers that did not. In fact, with the right mix of resources and support systems, employment from microbusinesses in low-wealth communities alone could grow by well-over 10%.”
The nonprofits selected to join the Open for Business Fund range from universities to local chambers of commerce to economic development funds with an emphasis on reaching small business owners most disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. For a complete list of grantees, visit here.