Published 1 year ago.
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Through a series of multi-year partnerships with business-focused nonprofits, Umpqua aims to close the opportunity gap in access to capital, resources, and expertise for traditionally underserved innovators.
Today, Umpqua Bank — headquartered in Roseburg,
Oregon; with locations across Idaho, Washington, Oregon,
California and Nevada — launched a program that expands access to
capital, resources, and expertise for minority and women entrepreneurs.
Umpqua Bank's Small Business Empowerment Program builds on existing private
and public partnerships — including strategic initiatives with numerous
business-focused nonprofits and Community Development Financial Institutions
(CDFIs) — to advance economic equality and opportunity for entrepreneurs in
historically underserved communities.
As part of the program, the Bank has formed multi-year partnerships with four
organizations dedicated to removing barriers to key areas of business support,
including access to technology, low-cost financing, and technical assistance and
(Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon); Washington-based Business Impact
and California-based Centro Community
According to Umpqua chief marketing communications officer Eve Callahan, the
program and newly formed partnerships address an opportunity gap in equitable
access to funding and expertise essential to the viability and success of any
business, especially those in communities lacking critical resources and support
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"Entrepreneurs and small business owners create incredible opportunity and
prosperity in our communities, but historical barriers continue to exist that
prevent many from accessing what they need for success. Partnerships that take a
multi-faceted, collaborative approach to close this opportunity gap are
essential to give every entrepreneur with good ideas and determination a chance
to succeed," said Callahan. "We're really pleased to announce the Umpqua Bank
Small Business Empowerment Program and the strategic partnerships with these
terrific organizations. Together, they're advancing some of the most innovative,
creative and comprehensive approaches to addressing one of the biggest obstacles
to prosperity many communities face."
Kiva: Access to capital. Since 2005, Kiva has been a leader in
supporting women and minority entrepreneurs around the world with
crowdfunded loans that unlock capital for the underserved, improve the cost
of financial services, and address underlying barriers to financial access.
Thanks to the new partnership, Umpqua is establishing an Umpqua Bank
Managed Loan Fund, enabling women and minority entrepreneurs in Umpqua's
footprint to access matched funds and obtain 0 percent interest, crowdfunded
Centro Community Partners: Access to expertise and tools. Centro works
with entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses. Its
award-winning business-planning app provides entrepreneurs with affordable,
culturally appropriate and high-impact, enterprise-building tools. Umpqua is
funding a significant expansion of Centro's tech hub and a bilingual mobile
app for small businesses over the next three years; as well as the expansion
of Centro Capital Hubs in the San Francisco Bay Area, connecting hundreds of
entrepreneurs with 0 percent Umpqua Bank Managed Loan Fund loans through
MESO: Geographic expansion. MESO elevates and empowers historically
with tailored business assistance and flexible capital to build family
wealth through business ownership. Umpqua is working closely with MESO to
expand services in Southern Oregon — including a satellite office in Jackson
County with bilingual loan services and access to new microenterprise tools
for a region severely impacted by both wildfires and COVID-19. MESO staff
will provide one-to-one culturally specific coaching, credit-building
support, technical assistance, and access to a 5:1 matched Individual
development account (IDA).
BINW: Financial literacy and loan readiness. BINW provides coaching,
education and access to capital for community small businesses, with an
emphasis on working with traditionally underserved populations
women, BIPOC, veterans, immigrants and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. Recognizing the
historic barriers to accessing capital and financial expertise many diverse
entrepreneurs face, Umpqua is funding the launch of BINW's new,
multi-lingual Loan Readiness Center to provide customized technical
assistance that moves entrepreneurs from "loan-ready" to "loan-successful."
BINW will also introduce new, culturally appropriate loan products that
expand access to capital for under-resourced borrowers.
Umpqua's Small Business Empowerment Program is part of a growing movement toward
— a holistic approach to investment that aim to use targeted capital
distribution as a tool to create healthy and equitable social and environmental
systems. As the Black Lives
movement has continued to bring systemic societal inequities into sharp focus,
more and more
have committed to shifting resources to help level the financial playing field
for historically disadvantaged and underrepresented communities of color.
Awareness grows and the work continues, but things remain far from
The Small Business Empowerment Program is just the latest Umpqua initiative to
advance entrepreneurship and business ownership among minorities and
women. Last month, the bank also
launched a private-public partnership with the State of Washington to provide
$15.5 million for the newly formed Small Business Flex
Fund — which offers low-cost loans and
support through CDFIs for minority-owned businesses. And for its focus on
equitable lending through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the
US Small Business Administration recently recognized Umpqua in its Equity
Spotlight series for providing 30 percent of its 2021 PPP loans to women-owned
businesses — double the national average.
Published Feb 2, 2022 1pm EST / 10am PST / 6pm GMT / 7pm CET