Wells Fargo ups goal for loans to women-owned biz

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(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

NEW YORK (AP) — Wells Fargo & Co. is reaching out to women small business owners in hopes of achieving a new goal: a total of $55 billion in lending to women-owned companies by 2020.

The country’s fourth-largest bank is aiming to make $16 billion in new loans to women-owned companies through 2020, according to Lisa Stevens, Well’s lead executive for small business. The bank has already made $39 billion in new loans since 1995. So its cumulative goal for new lending to women-owned businesses is now $55 billion, Stevens says.

New loans can include fixed loans or lines of credit. They do not include money withdrawn from an existing line of credit.

Wells will increase its marketing and outreach to women owners, Stevens says. It will also offer advice and counseling to all small business owners who are seeking loans but whose businesses are unable to qualify for one. It will also be creating a blog for women business owners on its website, www.wellsfargo.com.

Wells made $16 billion in new loans to small businesses overall in 2012, up from $12 billion in 2011.

Many banks have been increasing their efforts to lend to small businesses, but many owners have been reluctant to take on debt, especially after having paid down their debt following the recession. Stevens says Wells sees that trend among small businesses with existing credit lines — they aren’t drawing down their lines after having paid them back.

Stevens says Wells is finding small business owners are cautious because they don’t know yet what their costs will be when the health care law takes full effect next year. That observation is in line with surveys of business owners who say they’re anxious about what the law’s impact on their companies will be.

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