Kia Weatherspoon, founder and CEO of Determined By Design in northeast D.C., was one of the original beneficiaries of a Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif) project that helped minority-owned businesses scale up. (Brigette White/The Washington Informer)
Kia Weatherspoon, founder and CEO of Determined By Design in northeast D.C., was one of the original beneficiaries of a Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif) project that helped minority-owned businesses scale up. (Brigette White/The Washington Informer)

The Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif), noted for its impact expanding economic opportunity and investing in equitable approaches across the District of Columbia, has been named the 2019 Nonprofit Organization of the Year.

Honored Friday by the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development for its achievements during National Small Business Week, Wacif is certified to provide financial services in low-income communities and to people who lack access to financing.

“Being named the 2019 Nonprofit of the Year is a testament to our team’s commitment to equity and economic opportunity in communities that need it most,” said Wacif Executive Director Harold Pettigrew. “Creating economic pathways to entrepreneurship, and expanding businesses already venturing down that path, are more important than ever as economic imperatives to address the region’s wealth inequality. We are honored by this recognition from the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and DSLBD and will use it to deepen our support for entrepreneurs and the communities they anchor.”

Wacif’s latest honor reflects its growth trajectory.

In 2018, Wacif increased its loan volume by over 60 percent and more than doubled clients served through small business advisory services, which included 45 workshops and training events, over 260 one-on-one client advisement sessions, 14 commercial corridor visits to meet business owners, and the graduation of a new cohort of the Ascend Capital Accelerator.

Wacif’s lending activity aligned closely with its commitment to equity, with 100 percent of loans deployed in 2018 going to entrepreneurs of color, and 50 percent to women entrepreneurs. Geographically, Wacif’s largest lending areas were D.C.’s Wards 8, 5 and 7, as well as Prince George’s County and Baltimore City.

To learn more about Wacif’s programs, email info@wacif.org.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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