Wells Fargo Bank gave a $2 million grant to an Oakland-based small business lender on Monday morning, according to bank officials.
The donation to Main Street Launch, described as a Community Development Financial Institution, was announced at a news conference at a small business in Oakland – McMullen Boutique at 2257 Broadway in Oakland.
Sherri McMullen, the boutique owner, spoke about the importance of small business loans, and her experience as a Main Street Launch client.
“An investment in a small business, like McMullen, is an investment in someone’s dream and in the growth of the local economy,” she said in a statement.
In an interview, McMullen noted that she had been uncomfortable attempting to get conventional funding when she decided to open her boutique. She ended up going to friends and using her savings. Eventually, she was introduced to Main Street Launch and applied for a microloan.
It made all the difference for her. Robert Lattimore, who helps provide access to capital for African American entrepreneurs at Main Street Launch, understood small business in general, and specifically understood McMullen’s business and personal goals as a single mother trying to raise a son and maintain her Oakland roots.
“With that funding, I’ve been able to bring on people, you know, more staff management, employees who are employed in Oakland and live in Oakland. That’s also important to help my staff with their needs as well,” McMullen said.
Wells Fargo’s commitment at this time helps extend Main Street Launch’s reach. “And, (the grant) is helping support a community, it’s helping support people who are really grounded and rooted in helping the economic growth of a city that they care so much about,” McMullen said.
Lattimore, Main Street Launch executive vice president of diverse markets, is also passionate about “small businesses in the Bay Area because small businesses are really the backbone of the economy of the United States. For example, there are about 2.85 million African-American small businesses located throughout this country. As we move toward the year 2046 the demographics of this country will change. And, it’s critically important that small businesses and particularly businesses of color are a part of a vibrant community, and by them being vibrant it will allow them to create assets, wealth, and income.”
For more information on Main Street Launch, please go to: https://www.mainstreetlaunch.org/.
Bay City News, Internet sources contributed to this report.