US Bank commits $25M microbusiness fund for women of color business owners


By Press Release

U.S. Bank chief diversity officer, Greg Cunningham (Photo provided)

U.S. Bank announced details of its U.S. Bank Access Commitment, a long-term approach bringing the strengths of U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC), corporate social responsibility and its business lines, to help build wealth while redefining how the bank serves diverse communities and provides more opportunities for diverse employees.

Access Commitment will focus on three primary areas: supporting businesses owned by people of color, helping individuals and communities of color advance economically and enhancing career opportunities for employees and prospective employees. The ongoing work, which will include projects from across U.S. Bank’s diverse portfolio of businesses, builds on the $116 million commitment made by U.S. Bank in 2020 including increased supplier spend, innovative products, services and transformative customer experiences and long -term place-based partnerships with the goal of addressing the persistent racial wealth gap, starting with the Black community.

This initial launch includes:

  • a new $25 million microbusiness fund focused on businesses owned by women of color
  • a mortgage program focused on homeownership education and hiring
  • a focus on building sustained wealth as part of U.S. Bank’s wealth management business
  • financial inclusion partnerships
  • supply chain financing focused on diverse businesses
  • customized employee leadership development
  • a change to how U.S. Bank fills open positions

“We believe access to capital for minority small business, housing and homeownership and workforce advancement creates opportunities for systemic change,” said Andy Cecere, Chairman, President and CEO of U.S. Bank. “U.S. Bank Access Commitment is our approach to building wealth and supporting individuals and small business owners through a series of business initiatives throughout 2021 and beyond. We are committed to be part of the solution.”

Supporting businesses owned by people of color

$25 million microbusiness fund 

The U.S. Bank Foundation and USBCDC will provide $25 million in grants and investments through a new microbusiness fund for businesses owned by women of color. The fund is focused on providing access to capital, technical assistance and networking. USBCDC will provide $20 million in debt capital to Black-led and women-focused community development financial institutions (CDFIs). U.S. Bank Foundation will provide $5 million in grants to support expansion, capacity building, technical assistance and mentorship/networking. More on the fund, including selected partners will be shared in the coming weeks.

Expanding finance opportunities for diverse businesses

U.S. Bank’s Global Trade and Supply Chain Finance teams will expand existing efforts to provide trade financing to more diverse businesses, with a focus on supply chain finance. The team will work with U.S. Bank corporate and commercial banking customers to optimize working capital for diverse-owned businesses. It will do this by providing bilateral access to U.S. Bank’s receivables purchase program so they can provide competitive payment terms to their buyers but be paid earlier than the due date. This will help free up much needed capital by improving cash flow and enhancing their sales effort.

Expanding USBCDC’s ongoing commitment to racial equity

USBCDC continues to look across its business for ways to deepen relationships with partners that are Black-owned, Black-led or are prioritizing racial equity in their work. For example, it’s prioritizing patient and lower-cost capital to Black-led CDFIs through a partnership with the African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs; removing barriers and providing stronger support to Black- led affordable housing developers; and using an intermediary community development entity (CDE) model to create opportunities for Black-led CDFIs and CDEs to earn revenue, build experience and receive their own New Markets Tax Credit allocation.

Doing business with diverse businesses

In 2020, U.S. Bank committed to doubling its Black-owned suppliers within the next 12 months. U.S. Bank is making great progress and is on track to achieving this goal. Examples of areas of progress includes new engagements in real estate appraisals, digital, technology, and construction.

In the Fall of 2019, U.S. Bank joined the Department of Treasury’s Mentor/Protégé program to provide vital support to Minority Deposit Institutions (MDIs). Since then, U.S. Bank has been providing developmental assistance and engaged in revenue generating opportunities with First Independence Bank, a Black Owned bank headquartered in Detroit, Michigan.

Enhancing career opportunities for our employees

Advancing Black leaders

U.S. Bank is committed to creating an inclusive culture where all employees are valued, empowered and given equitable access to opportunities to build and advance their careers. The company offers leadership development for all employees and will expand opportunities for both early- and mid-career employees and Black executives in partnership with the McKinsey Black Leadership Academy. To date more than 150 executives are participating in the program. U.S. Bank is also preparing to launch a second year of its Managing Committee Sponsorship Program, which pairs executive leaders with women, Black and Hispanic leaders to increase visibility and accelerate their advancement.

Ensuring diverse candidate slates

U.S. Bank recently expanded its diversity hiring efforts to include at least one woman or person of color in the interview process for all employment opportunities. Previous efforts had applied to manager level roles and above. The bank has also committed to expanding the use of diverse interview panels and is revising partnerships for sourcing diverse candidates.

“Launching U.S. Bank Access Commitment is an important next step in our focus on addressing the racial wealth gap, which suppresses opportunity for all Americans, and creating opportunities for all stakeholders to realize their full economic potential ,” said Greg Cunningham, chief diversity officer for U.S. Bank. “Our focus on developing the products, services and experiences that readily meets the financial needs of our diverse communities will ultimately help create more equitable outcomes for everyone.”

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