Wells Fargo to Lend $55B to Woman-Owned Small Businesses

In honor of National Women’s History Month, Wells Fargo announced Friday that it will be renewing a lending commitment it first made to female small business owners in 1995, when the bank pledged to lend $1 billion to women running small businesses over a three-year period.

Wells Fargo is now upping its lending goal, aiming to lend a cumulative $55 billion by 2020.

“The latest information shows that 30% of all small business owners are women,” says Lisa Stevens, Wells Fargo’s lead small business executive. “We know that two-thirds of all people work for small businesses … This is good for women and good for the U.S.,” she added, in terms of spurring job creation.

PNC Bank also has a program aimed at empowering women called PNC-Certified Women’s Business Advocates, in which they train bankers to work with women running small businesses. PNC currently has 900 Women’s Business Advocates around the country.

“Our training is based on the premise that men and women are different: They develop relationships differently and have different priorities,” says Beth Marcello, who oversees the program. “To do a good job serving them, we need to be tuned in to these differences.”

Marcello says that while PNC no longer has a stated lending goal akin to Wells Fargo’s $55 billion target, the bank has an unofficial aim of lending $1 billion each year to woman-owned small businesses; last year, the bank exceeded this amount.

“There’s a misconception that women only want female bankers, or only female bankers are interesting in helping women. But that’s not true at PNC: 25% of our advocates are men,” adds Marcello.

According to company spokespeople, neither Bank of America nor TD Bank run any programs specific to helping women succeed. HSBC and Chase declined to comment for this report.The Citi Foundation supports Women Investing in Women Initiative (WIN-WIN), a program launched last year that aims to invest at least $20 million in high-impact organizations and projects worldwide that create opportunities for women lacking access to traditional credit and funding sources.