Wells Fargo

Innovative idea fuels micro-businesses through the pandemic

Since March 2020

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M+
Secured In emergency loans for BIPOC businesses
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Small Business relief grants deployed to MN businesses

Innovative idea fuels micro-businesses through the pandemic

No one could have predicted COVID-19 and its severe economic effects. The Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda), a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), had a vision for innovation long before the pandemic — a vision that paid off when small businesses in the community needed it most.

Headquartered in North Minneapolis, Meda serves CDFIs that empower very small and micro-business entrepreneurs by providing much needed banking resources and loans to start and sustain their businesses. Leaders at the nonprofit knew that if they could build an infrastructure to support and deliver a comprehensive lending platform, they could meet current and future needs of CDFIs. But they needed funding.

That’s where Wells Fargo came in. As corporate leader in the community, Wells Fargo drives positive, innovative social impact that addresses systemic barriers and pathways to economic mobility in low- and moderate-income communities. Wells Fargo provided Meda a $1.5 million grant from its Diverse Community Capital Activator Awards in 2018. In turn, the nonprofit used the funds to build out their Enterprise Bank System (EBS), which is cloud based and utilizes branch architecture to support loan originations and application servicing.

“It’s impossible to overstate the impact of EBS has had during the pandemic,” explained Alfredo Martel, Meda’s executive director. “Wells Fargo’s support enabled us to create a banking system that is supporting BIPOC-owned businesses during the economic downturn. EBS allowed us direct access into the Federal Reserve’s Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) system, which fueled quicker approvals.”

Since March 2020, when the pandemic spread across the country, the EBS has enabled Meda to:

  • Provide emergency and COVID relief technical assistance to more than 350 clients;
  • Secure more than $30 million in emergency loans for BIPOC businesses through the SBA’s COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) and through Minnesota Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) funding;
  • Serve as the lead lender for DEED’s Emergency Loan Fund, providing $2.7 million in financing to 89 small businesses; and
  • Deploy more than 1,100 small business relief grants — DEED and Hennepin County grant funds that the nonprofit administered — to Minnesota businesses.

One BIPOC-owned business that benefitted directly from Wells Fargo’s investment in Meda and EBS was Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, a restaurant located on a 17-block stretch of Nicollet Avenue known as Eat Street and famous for its jerk chicken. “When I needed a PPP loan to help sustain Pimento, Meda was able get me the funding I needed quickly and efficiently. Because of their speed, I was able to keep my restaurant open and my people on payroll through a difficult time,” said Tomme Beevas, Pimento’s owner. “I am appreciative of Meda and all those who helped make that much-needed funding happen.”

In the communities Wells Fargo serves, 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. In 2020, Wells Fargo invested more than $14 million with Minnesota nonprofits doing this work across the state.