Ohio microlender scores grant for investing into minority-owned startups

By August 16, 2018

Columbus-based microlender Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) has received a $200,000 grant to keep investing in minority-owned businesses and startups in the state, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The grant comes from banking giant Wells Fargo.

Since 2004, the ECDI has given thousands of loans worth $25 million to help out 13,000 entrepreneurs and workers that hail from minority backgrounds. Most of that money goes into businesses from Columbus or Northeast Ohio.

“People of color are much less likely to obtain financing for their small business,” ECDI head Steve Fireman told the Columbus Business Journal. “If we just left it alone and didn’t go more aggressively to the market with a neighborhood strategy, we would just naturally have less opportunity to help African-American-owned businesses.”

Thursday’s grant announcement is part of a series of grants to be handed out by Wells Fargo in the three years via the Wells Fargo Works for Small Business: Diverse Community Capital program. Those various grants will be worth up to $75 million as the bank invests in various nonprofits and organizations like ECDI.

ECDI claims it has created nearly 8,000 jobs in important Ohioan markets like Cleveland, Akron, and Toledo, in addition to the capital city.

“We want to help people open up businesses where they live to help those neighborhoods,” Fireman said.

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