Truist Foundation recently announced a $3.75 million commitment to launch the Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Small Business Capital strategy at Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs Inc. (ACE). This nonprofit and community development financial institution provides capital, coaching and connections. Its mission? To help borrowers create and grow sustainable businesses that generate jobs. This grant serves as the largest philanthropic corporate gift in ACE’s history.
ACE is currently experiencing increased demand to support the growing needs of Georgia’s small business owners in rural and underserved communities. Consequently, the company aims to expand its lending capabilities beyond its current 68-county footprint in Georgia, which includes metro Atlanta and North Georgia. Truist Foundation’s grant will help enable ACE to provide increased equitable loan capital for minority-owned small businesses over three years. ACE will also leverage the capital to continue spurring local job creation and retention. Meanwhile, it will start seeding start-up program operations and infrastructure for an expansion into South Georgia.
Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs’ partnership with Truist Foundation
Bill Rogers, chairman and CEO of Truist Financial Corporation; Lynette Bell, president of Truist Foundation; Katie Saez, Georgia regional president for Truist; and Christopher Nunn, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, joined Grace Fricks, president and CEO of ACE, at Westside Future Fund. There, they discussed the details of the grant and the impact equitable lending can have on generational wealth for individuals and communities currently underserved in Georgia.
“Truist Foundation gives to community-led organizations that address the deep, systemic inequities. It provides innovative solutions to help minority-owned businesses grow and thrive,” said Bell. “We are proud to partner with ACE and its work to eradicate barriers to entry for minority entrepreneurs. This is helping build a more equitable economy across Georgia.”
This grant is part of the $120 million joint Truist and Truist Foundation commitment. The initiative focuses on strengthening and supporting small businesses nationwide, with a particular focus on Black, Latine, and women-owned businesses. ACE’s work to grow minority-owned sustainable businesses that generate jobs aligns with Truist’s purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities.
“Truist’s support is helping propel the beginning phases of our statewide expansion to serve more small businesses throughout Georgia. It will provide needed capital to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), women and low-income entrepreneurs over the next three years,” said Fricks. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities, family well-being, and our economy. And collaborations like this enable us to be on the frontlines helping them to not only survive, but to thrive.”
Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs’ commitment
ACE’s lending increased tenfold since 2019, as the organization quickly responded to deliver relief to Atlanta’s small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization went from providing less than 100 loans in 2019 to more than 1,200 throughout 2020 and 2021. In 2021 alone, ACE closed $37.3 million in loans. It helped to create and retain 4,368 jobs and provided more than 18,000 hours in business consulting. Of the organizations ACE supported in 2021, 94 percent are owned by minority populations, 51 percent by women and 72 percent by People of Color.
“This grant to ACE underscores our commitment to supporting entrepreneurs in Atlanta and Georgia,” said Katie Saez, Georgia regional president for Truist. “ACE’s work is creating opportunities for minority- and women-owned small businesses. It will expand, thrive and create jobs, improving the lives of individuals, families and communities throughout our state.”
About Truist Foundation
Truist Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. Established in 2020, the foundation makes investments in nonprofit organizations to help ensure the communities it serves have more opportunities for a better quality of life. Truist Foundation’s grants and activities focus on building career pathways to economic mobility and strengthening small businesses. Learn more at Truist.com/Foundation.
About ACE | Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs Inc.
ACE is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit and community development financial institution (CDFI). It provides loans and business development resources to help its borrowers create and grow sustainable businesses. ACE is the resource of choice for those who may not be financed fully by traditional lenders. With a focus on underserved people and places, ACE connects small businesses owned by women, people of color and low- to moderate-income entrepreneurs in metro Atlanta and North Georgia. By offering capital and coaching to sustain their businesses, entrepreneurs can retain their employees and thereby support their local communities. ACE has offices in Westside Atlanta and Cleveland, Georgia. ACE Women’s Business Center locations are located in Norcross and Savannah, Georgia, with plans to expand into southwest Georgia. For more information, visit AceLoans.org.
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