Left to Right: Milton Little, United Way of Greater Atlanta; Derrick Ellington, Wells Fargo; Mayor Andre Dickens; Congresswoman Nikema Williams; Rahel TafarI, business owner; Charlie Scharf, Wells Fargo CEO; Dr. Eloisa Klementich, Invest Atlanta. Photo by Allison Joyner.

The fund was created to help small businesses stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Allison Joyner

Wells Fargo announced today that they are donating $20 million to help small businesses in Atlanta — particularly those owned by minorities — create assets and make storefront improvements. 

“As a company, we commit to make the communities where we operate stronger and to do it at a very local level,” said Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf. “Making a large donation in Atlanta — one of the largest donations we’ve made from the Open for Business Fund — was important to us and we know it will make a difference for small business owners.”

The United Way of Greater Atlanta and Invest Atlanta will collaborate to distribute the funding focusing on Black- and other minority-owned businesses. Both partners agree the funds will help sustain the communities in which these businesses are located.

Wells Fargo CEO announcing a $20 million donation as part of Open for Business Fund for small minority-owned businesses in Atlanta.
Photo by Allison Joyner.

“For more than 100 years the United Way and Wells Fargo have worked side-by-side on programs and initiatives that help to drive sustainable and equitable improvements in the well being of children, families and communities all across Greater Atlanta,” said President and CEO for the United Way of Greater Atlanta Milton Little.

This notion is shared by Invest Atlanta. “We want to make sure that the city lives up to its promises of equity, equity opportunity for everyone and that’s what brings us here today,” said the organization’s CEO Dr. Eloisa Kementich.

In her remarks, Kementich also mentioned that a survey conducted by Invest Atlanta revealed 81 percent of local business owners polled said grants through the CARES Act and other pandemic-related assistance programs helped them retain their employees. 

Dr. Eloisa Klementich with Invest Atlanta gave remarks on a $20 million donation from Wells Fargo to local small businesses.
Photo by Allison Joyner.

“As a former business owner, I understand the vital role of small businesses in Atlanta’s economy and community and we’re excited to announce this program in the first few weeks of our new administration,” said Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.

Other political leaders echoed this sentiment. “I want to thank Wells Fargo for this investment in Atlanta-area small businesses and recognizing that businesses owned by Black and Brown people have been disproportionately hurt during the pandemic,” said 5th District Representative Nikema Williams. 

The $20 million to be administered by the United Way and Invest Atlanta will be distributed as small business loans, asset-building assistance, facade improvement grants and commercial ownership growth. 

“Diverse-owned businesses like mine bring culture to where people want to work and live,” said Rahel TafarI, the owner of Grant Park Coffeehouse, a recipient of Open for Business Funding. 

The grant allowed her to purchase a new space downtown and build assets in her business. She plans to open another coffee shop and Ethiopian restaurant near Grant Park.

The funds are far from being fully distributed. Click here for more information on applying for an Open for Business Fund grant.