The Diverse Community Capital Grant Program Launch was opened with introductory remarks by Mr. Fikru Abebe, Managing Director, Enterprise Development Group (EDG). Mr. Fikru extended his warm greetings to Wells Fargo representatives and all personalities present. He recognized Wells Fargo as one of the biggest sponsors of EDG. The first round of Wells Fargo support for EDG Baltimore was extended to serve the last three years in the amount of $372,000 while the second round is an additional $450,000 beginning July, 2019. This funding will continue to help address the needs of underserved communities in Baltimore. For the next three years, the grant will be used to increase lending and provision of technical assistance to small businesses owned particularly by African American and Hispanic populations in addition to the diversified underserved communities in Baltimore. Because of our generous supporters like Wells Fargo, Mr. Fikru stated, EDG will continue to promote opportunities for self- sufficiency and development for low to moderate income people. This is a clear evidence of Wells Fargo “paving a path to stability and financial success and staying true to its Vision, Values and Goals.”
Dr. Tsehaye Tefera, President and CEO of Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC), gave his opening remarks by greeting the audience. Appreciating the long standing tradition of collaboration with Wells Fargo, Dr. Tsehaye also mentioned that though ECDC started as a local organization trying to serve the needs of the Ethiopian community, it has over the years expanded its services to be more inclusive with multi-programs resettling refugees from 18 African countries and other Middle Eastern and Latin American countries, including Colombia and Cuba. He reflected back in 1992 when the need for creating a program to support small businesses was identified and resulted in the establishment of EDG, which was initially part of ECDC. It later became a subsidiary of ECDC to serve refugees, immigrants, and other underserved groups who are in need of support. Dr. Tsehaye acknowledged that it would not have been possible to lead the operations at the Baltimore office had it not been for the gracious support of Wells Fargo. He also expressed his hopes that this partnership sets an example to others engaged in similar initiatives.
Anna Bard, Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo, gave her remarks expressing that Wells Fargo has provided over $945,000 to ECDC in the last 10 years. She stressed that this is a testament to the commitment that Wells Fargo has in its long-term partnership with EDG. Anna also expressed her enthusiasm in celebrating the launch, which is focused on supporting entrepreneurs of color and women.