This significant investment increases Wells Fargo‘s ongoing support of RICE’s efforts to assist small businesses and entrepreneurs, make capital more accessible, design learning spaces specifically for RICE, and broaden RICE’s outreach and influence throughout Atlanta and beyond.

RICE and Wells Fargo honoured small businesses that are making a big difference in their communities by hosting a pop-up holiday market at the Russell Center to launch the release.

The market featured a variety of offerings from RICE entrepreneurs.

Five notable RICE stakeholders were taken aback by The Bank of Doing and RICE during the marketplace when they were presented with a customised set of grants and resources that were especially designed to meet their company’s needs and assist them in reaching their objectives as they approach the hectic holiday season.

Among the RICE-selected entrepreneurs are:

  • Louis Deas, CEO of Try Deas and Other Treats;
  • Marsha Francis, founder of STE(A)M Truck;
  • Evana & Zoe Oli, co-founders of Beautiful Curly Me;
  • KaCey Venning, co-founder of HEY! Helping Empower Youth, and
  • Tony Cruver, CEO of Cruvie Clothing Company

Jay Bailey, president, and CEO of RICE stated: “When we opened the doors of RICE in 2019, our vision was clear: to create a thriving ecosystem where black entrepreneurs could turn their dreams into successful businesses. Wells Fargo, as one of our inaugural partners, shared this vision from the very beginning, and their support has been instrumental in our journey. Today, as we celebrate their $1.5m investment in our work, we see our vision taking an even more expansive form. This generous contribution is helping RICE to accelerate our mission to build black business.”

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With its $1.5m investment in RICE, Wells Fargo will pay for the following features:

  • Programming: As a founding partner of RICE’s “Supply Chain Accelerator,” Wells Fargo’s investment will fund a yearly programme that develops 100 small businesses that are about to be ready to interact with government agencies, big businesses, and industry veterans. The entrepreneurial landscape is constantly changing, but this programme equips entrepreneurs to thrive in it;
  • Access to Capital: For RICE stakeholders, 50 small business microgrants will be made possible by the Wells Fargo investment. These $2,500–$10,000 grants will assist in removing major obstacles that prevent these businesses from receiving funding. By doing this, they will give the communities they support and assist more potential to develop, generate employment, and inspire hope;
  • Placemaking: The “Wells Fargo Learning Lab” will be unveiled by Wells Fargo and will be named after the financial institution. This will be the primary collaborative learning environment and classroom at RICE for fostering creativity, knowledge exchange, and skill building, and
  • Impact at Scale: RICE’s renowned BIG I.D.E.A.S. curriculum will be extended into virtual spaces due to a Wells Fargo investment that will support the creation of a digital learning platform.

“RICE’s mission to inspire and empower black entrepreneurs is more critical than ever, as these small businesses are among the fastest growing in Atlanta and the economy overall,” added Darlene Goins, head of philanthropy and community impact at Wells Fargo.

“This philanthropic investment is consistent with our unwavering commitment to advance economic equity, create opportunities for small business growth and drive positive change while we also honour Herman J. Russell’s enduring legacy.”

Furthermore, approximately $42m has been contributed by Wells Fargo to groups that assist diverse small business owners, such as RICE, through its Open for Business Fund.

Grantees of the Open for Business Fund report they have connected with over 203,000 small businesses, giving them the tools, they need to sustain or generate 254,000 jobs.

53% of the businesses served were owned by women, 79% by people of colour, and 72% by those with low to moderate incomes.

Also, in November 2023, the Wells Fargo Foundation awarded a $750,000 grant to support the establishment of Team Rubicon TRades Academy.