Group to use funds to help small businesses impacted by pandemic

Staff Report

Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) will receive $105,000 in funding to aid small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grant, awarded by Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund and the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB) will help increase access to capital for small businesses in low- and moderate-income communities (LMIs), especially those owned by women and minorities in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

WEV was selected as one of 15 nonprofit lenders across the country that have a track record of providing small business lending and development services to low-wealth populations that have traditionally had difficulty accessing capital.

“WEV is grateful to have been chosen for this award, and we are ready to deploy the funding to assist small businesses in low-moderate income communities in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties,” said Kathy Odell, CEO of WEV. “Small business entrepreneurs in LMIs need the improved access to capital Wells Fargo and NALCAB have made available and WEV is prepared to help them access it.

“Within the last two years, WEV has doubled our number of bilingual staff, increased online training programs, expanded access to business training programs, and provided innovative entrepreneurial funding. We look forward to seeing what the grantees will achieve with these funds.”

NALCAB, a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), is the hub of a national network of more than 140 member organizations that are anchor institutions in geographically and ethnically diverse Latino communities in 40 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. NALCAB’s mission is to strengthen the economy by advancing economic mobility in Latino communities.

About 70% or more of those served by the NALCAB Network are Latino, 20% are Black and more than 40% are immigrants.

The Open for Business Fund was created in July 2020 to provide capital and expertise for businesses hardest hit by the pandemic. Wells Fargo is donating some $420 million in gross processing fees from participating in the first round of PPP and has already helped a projected 148,000 small businesses keep an estimated 253,000 jobs nationwide (through Sept. 30, 2021).

The Open for Business Fund will continue to award grants to nonprofits serving small businesses through the end of 2021.

For more about Women’s Economic Ventures, visit