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Wells Fargo grants $2 million to Main Street Launch

Oakland Small Business Week celebration at McMullen boutique highlights launch of new program that serves to empower entrepreneurs through capital, education, and community support.
Photograph by Julia Lehman, BlackInk

Wells Fargo grants $2 million to Main Street Launch

Main Street Launch recently received a $2 million investment to help diverse entrepreneurs in the Bay Area achieve as part of the Wells Fargo Works for Small Business: Diverse Community Capital program.

The grant will increase lending opportunities for diverse small business owners; provide coaching and educational resources; and improve, create or add resources, materials, products, or programs that better serve their target market. Main Street Launch will use their award to launch an African American Entrepreneurship Institute focused on providing support through all lifecycles of a business, which is important for building intergenerational wealth. Main Street Launch provides businesses like McMullen Boutique opportunities that empower entrepreneurs through capital, education, and community support. They help diverse entrepreneurs in the Bay Area achieve their dreams of opening up small businesses, creating jobs and financially empowering their families.

Twelve years ago, Sherri McMullen took a leap of faith to open McMullen, a high-end women’s fashion boutique in Oakland, Calif. But, she never expected the road to financing her dream would include so many “no’s.”

Many lenders said she did not have enough assets or collateral. Some told her that she did not have enough experience as a small business owner. During this time, the U.S. economy also entered into one of the worst economic downturns in this lifetime: the Great Recession.

After Sherri unsuccessfully applied for business loans from some conventional banks, she quickly realized she needed to find another way. Sherri used her personal savings and borrowed money from friendsand family to kick-start her business.

Several years later, she was finally granted a small business loan from Main Street Launch. Sherri grew her business and clientele. Many of her long-time customers have grown with the business.

Seven months ago, Sherri celebrated the grand opening of her most recent storefront on the corner of Grand and Broadway with the help of small business lender Main Street Launch and private investors.

Sherri worked closely with Main Street Launch’s head of diverse markets, Robert Lattimore, to strategize ways to grow her business. “We would not have been able to get this space if we did not have support from Main Street Launch,” said McMullen. “Robert understood what it took to take her business to the next level,” she added. Wells Fargohas been a longtime supporter of Main Street Launch, working in partnership to help small businesses like McMullen Boutique.

“Wells Fargo’s investment allows us to take this program to the next level. They have been a critically important partner in helping us build innovative programs as we grow and scale the services we can offer,” said Lattimore. “Wells Fargo’s support is an investment in a small business, like McMullen, and in the growth of the local economy.”◼