Winner of NEXT Fund for Innovation honored for plans to support early-stage minority-owned businesses that have a high potential for growth
Philadelphia, PA, February 13, 2018 — Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) today announced that Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA) is one of five recipients of the $5MM NEXT Fund for Innovation (NEXT Fund), a pilot program that builds on ten years of innovation and impact driven by the Wells Fargo NEXT Awards (NEXT Awards) for Opportunity Finance. Developed with support from Wells Fargo and Prudential Financial, the program funds business models, products, platforms or processes holding the ability to drive transformational change and scale in the community development financial institution (CDFI) industry. The NEXT Fund provides a new source of patient, flexible capital for community development financial institution innovation.
Metropolitan Economic Development Association will provide a new, patient equity-like capital product to support early-stage minority-owned businesses in Minneapolis that have potential for high growth.
“Over the course of ten years the NEXT Awards propelled CDFIs ready for scale to achieve their vision. With the NEXT Fund we recognize and reward emerging CDFI business models, platforms or processes with great potential—bringing flexible capital, including equity and subordinated debt, into play at a critical stage. As a result of the NEXT Fund CDFIs can achieve the 10x influence that is needed to truly drive transformational change,” said Beth Lipson, OFN treasurer and executive vice president, strategic initiatives.
“We’re proud to continue our work with OFN to help CDFIs continue to innovate in the communities they serve,” said Megan Teare, senior vice president and manager of CDFI investing at Wells Fargo. “These five awardees have the potential to employ creative, high-impact strategies that can drive change.”
“Meda is excited to be part of this innovative program to provide sorely needed patient capital to minority-owned businesses,” said Gary Cunningham, president and CEO of Meda. “Nationally, less than 10 percent of patient and equity capital is invested in minority-owned businesses. Meda is proud to partner with OFN and Wells Fargo to provide this funding which is necessary to fund innovation, potential and growth in minority businesses. By investing in these businesses, Meda will be helping them reach scale, increase revenues and become sustainable employers.”
Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), the national network of community development financial institutions (CDFIs), strives to ensure low-income and other under-resourced communities have access to affordable, responsible financial products and services. Members of OFN are CDFIs that deliver responsible lending to help low-income communities join the economic mainstream. Through 2016, OFN’s network originated $54 billion in financing in rural, urban and Native communities. This financing has helped to create or maintain more than 1,202,000 jobs, start or expand more than 256,000 businesses and microenterprises and support the development or rehabilitation of nearly 2 million housing units and more than 10,000 community facility projects. For more information, visit www.ofn.org.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.9 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked Wells Fargo No. 3 on its most recent list of the top corporate cash philanthropists. In 2016, Wells Fargo donated $281.3 million to 14,900 nonprofits and Wells Fargo team members volunteered 1.73 million hours with 50,000 nonprofits. Wells Fargo’s corporate social responsibility efforts are focused on three priorities: economic empowerment in underserved communities, environmental sustainability and advancing diversity and social inclusion. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.
Meda was founded by a group of Minnesota business leaders who saw minority business ownership as a positive, long-term response to rising economic inequity within minority communities in our state. Our founders believed that supporting the creation and development of minority businesses was a positive, achievable and market-based approach to create wealth in Minnesota’s communities of color and provide equal economic opportunity. The founding purpose is reflected still today in our vision of “thriving communities through equal economic participation” and our mission of “helping minority entrepreneurs succeed.” Meda provides access to capital, business development services and corporate and governmental market support for minority entrepreneurs. Since our founding, Meda has helped launch more than 500 minority businesses and assisted more than 20,500 Minnesota minority entrepreneurs to become business owners. Meda operates a $17.5 million Community Development Fund Institution (CDFI) that provides needed capital for minority businesses to become sustainable. Meda is also the host organization for the Minneapolis Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center which has been recognized as the top-performing MBDA center two years running. For more information, go to www.meda.net.