The Next Step to Expanding Access & Equity: 2022 Wells Fargo Partnership

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A New Wells Fargo grant will allow Energize Colorado to better support small businesses through technical assistance mapping.

Over the last 18 months, Energize Colorado has directly serviced 2400 small businesses and 8,800 entrepreneurs in their efforts to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

But there are still thousands of minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, and rural micro-businesses across the Centennial State that desperately need help to survive.

Thanks to a newly awarded $450,000 grant from Wells Fargo, Energize will be able to assist businesses more effectively and equitably.

“The effects of the pandemic highlighted some of the largest gaps in the ecosystem serving small businesses, says Wendy Lea, CEO of Energize Colorado. “Thanks to this funding from Wells Fargo, we are eager to identify and fill these gaps with generous and entrepreneurial-minded volunteers and unique programs to help technical assistance providers deliver high-impact programs to new entrepreneurs starting businesses and existing entrepreneurs to strengthen their growth and capital to accelerate it all. The quicker we can connect our priority business groups with available grant funding and support, the more of an impact we will have on Colorado’s economy.”

How will the Wells Fargo grant be used?

This grant funding will allow Energize and our network of partners to fill the gaps in the business support ecosystem and to deepen our engagement with Colorado’s small businesses through the Energize Colorado Gap Fund along with an additional $10M investment into the state’s CLIMBER Loan Fund Program.

Access to the broad network of technical and financial assistance is limited, especially for the smallest of businesses in underserved communities.  Even if they do know that they exist, they might need help navigating the application process. Or, perhaps they’ve received their funding and could use additional ongoing support.

The Wells Fargo grant will allow Energize to develop a technical assistance (TA) digital resource compass and navigation program. The TA model will improve access and reduce barriers to assistance for our priority businesses. You can see the newly launched resource compass below.

“We’re excited to support organizations like Energize Colorado and the CLIMBER Fund that are not only delivering assistance to Colorado small businesses, but also focused on changing conditions in the state that impact the critical needs of entrepreneurs of every background,” says Shelley Marquez, Senior Vice President of Community Relations for Wells Fargo in Colorado. “Wells Fargo is proud to support the small business ecosystem in Colorado and we’re looking forward to working with Energize Colorado across a broad range of statewide projects in the future.”

This grant from Wells Fargo is funded from a national Open For Business fund initiative to help entrepreneurs and minority-owned businesses who were hardest hit by COVID-19.

What does the technical assistance mapping and navigation program include?

  • A digital navigation tool that will allow businesses to easily source support. This tool will be replicable, so our partner organizations will be able use it on their own websites, too.
  • Individual navigators. These mentors and business-guidance associates will work directly with business owners to source the right support and programs. This service will be available in multiple languages.
  • A full-time partnership & ecosystem manager. This individual will work to expand partnerships with organizations and support the individual navigators.
  • A fee-reduction program. Our priority business groups can utilize this pool of funds as they seek new business certifications or additional technical assistance.
  • A digital ecosystem map. We’re building a comprehensive picture of the 350-plus technical assistance programs and support organizations across Colorado. That way we can support them as they support the small businesses in their communities.
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