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Fifth Third Bank Partners with Accion to Fuel Small Business Growth

April 14, 2017, 07:04 AM
Filed Under: Banking News

Fifth Third Bank announced an investment and expanded partnership with the Accion U.S. Network - the largest network of nonprofit small business lenders in the United States - to support lending to underserved small businesses in Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.

“Accion specializes in lending to early-stage businesses, and it has proven that the right combination of personalized advice and capital can produce outstanding results,” said Kala Gibson, head of Business Banking for Fifth Third Bank. “Whether it is through providing financing or connecting business leaders with community resources like Accion, Fifth Third is committed to supporting small businesses at every step of their growth journey.”

The partnership highlights Fifth Third’s focus on championing entrepreneurship and strengthening ties within its communities by providing capital to support a loan pool fund. This builds upon Fifth Third Bank’s five-year, $30 billion Community Commitment, which includes $10 billion for small business lending, product innovation and enhanced underwriting and fulfillment. Additionally, the Bank’s commitment includes expanding technical assistance and support for alternative lending channels.

“Small businesses create two out of every three jobs in the United States; they are essential to economic growth and development,” said Byna Elliott, senior vice president and director of Community and Economic Development for Fifth Third Bank. “This partnership with Accion allows us both to provide the needed resources to help small businesses increase capacity and spur job creation, resulting in stronger communities throughout the country.”

Since 1991, Accion has disbursed nearly $500 million to more than 57,000 small businesses and provided 500,000 entrepreneurs with consulting services and business support. Accion’s average loan size is $10,000 in the United States.

“Partners like Fifth Third Bank are integral to supporting hardworking entrepreneurs across the United States, from referring business owners to Accion for lending and advising services to providing the financial support that makes our work possible,” said Gina Harman, CEO of the Accion U.S. Network. “We are excited to expand our relationship with Fifth Third and look forward to the impact this investment will have on small business owners and the communities they serve.”

Toby Beall, owner of Tailwinds Distilling in Plainfield, Illinois, has seen the benefits of working with both Fifth Third Bank and Accion.

To keep up with his business growth in the Chicago market, Beall initially turned to Fifth Third Bank for a small loan. The Fifth Third team determined after consulting with Beall that his business would be best served by a partnership with Accion. Beall then secured a $15,000 loan from Accion to purchase new equipment for his distillery.

“Working with Accion was immensely helpful,” Beall said. “They knew exactly what we needed and it was gratifying to work with an organization that understood where we were coming from as a small business.”

Fifth Third’s investment in the Accion U.S. Network will support:

  • Educating small business owners on cash flow and credit before they apply for a loan.
  • Providing capital to small business owners to start or grow their businesses. Accion in the U.S. provides affordable and transparently priced loans ranging from $300 to $1,000,000, depending on the business owner’s location and individual capital needs. 
  • Providing small business owners, including Accion loan applicants and recipients as well as the broader small business community, with coaching they need to be successful. Accion offers workshops, classes and webinars on topics such as credit repair, financial management and building a better business plan are all part of Accion’s service offering.

In a 2016 Fifth Third Bank study, four out of five small business owners admitted to not taking full advantage of resources dedicated to helping them develop and grow. Yet, roughly 38 percent said they needed help growing revenue and increasing profits.

Fifth Third Bank is committed to helping with the development of small businesses throughout its footprint. In 2015, the Bank loaned more than $2 billion to small businesses. Fifth Third has been recognized by Greenwich Associates as one of the "best brands" in small business banking. Additionally, the State Small Business Credit Initiative revealed that Fifth Third is the largest lender by dollar amount since the program's inception in 2011.

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