How Fifth Third Bank is Taking a Stand for Women- and Minority-owned Businesses

$5 million investment helps connect small businesses with financing and education

Laura Mitchell, owner of Luxury Cake Company, needed a $7,500 loan to help her small business grow. (Photo: Business Wire)

CINCINNATI--()--As Laura Mitchell of Luxury Cake Company in Chicago prepared to expand her small business, she faced a less-than-sweet dilemma: Business was growing, but taking on larger clients required a substantial financial investment in a professional grade oven and refrigerator.

Mitchell secured a $7,500 small business loan from Fifth Third Bank and a community partner, enabling her to expand her service offerings and build a showroom for cake tastings and demonstrations.

“You can do the hard work, but at a certain point, you need some help. It doesn’t take a million dollars to make your dreams a reality,” she said. “For businesses like mine, a small loan is all it takes to maximize growth.”

But a success story like Mitchell’s isn’t always the result of a loan application. In fact, U.S. Small Business Administration data shows that only a fraction of small business loans went to minority- (26 percent) or women-owned businesses (18 percent) in 2017.

This Small Business Week, Fifth Third is taking a stand against this lending gap with a $5 million investment to the nonprofit Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF). The partnership expands access to capital for small businesses in major markets across the U.S., including Cincinnati, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Tampa, Orlando and Charlotte. CRF works with community partners to improve access to capital for small businesses in underserved communities as well as those owned by women and minorities.

“Entrepreneurs like Laura Mitchell help our cities thrive,” said Kala Gibson, head of business banking for Fifth Third. “We have a long way to go to close the lending gap entirely, but this investment will help a more diverse range of small businesses reach their full potential, add jobs and give back to the communities that support them.”

In addition to expanding the responsible lending options available to small business owners, the $5 million investment will help small business owners make informed lending decisions using tools like CRF’s new platform, Connect2Capital, a “one-stop shop” for comparing a broad range of responsible and transparent loan options.

Many of the community partners will also:

  • Educate current and prospective entrepreneurs on critical financial management skills, including cash flow analysis, credit management, loan applications and more.
  • Connect business owners with local opportunities for continued education, including hands-on workshops, classes and webinars on topics ranging from credit repair, financial management and building a better business plan.

According to Gibson, the multimillion-dollar investment is part of the regional bank’s strategic plan to increase access to traditional funding, an effort that has made notable strides in recent years. The Bank has pledged $10 billion to small business loans through 2020 as part of its Community Commitment. The Bank has earned recognition from Greenwich Associates as one of the “best brands” in small business banking and from the State Small Business Credit Initiative as the largest lender by dollar amount.

“Whether we’re working with a one-person startup or a corporation that brings in more than $20 million a year, one of the most rewarding parts of our job is helping a business find the funding to reach its full potential,” Gibson said. “We are invested in them. When they grow, we grow, and we celebrate together.”

For business owners like Laura Mitchell, it’s that level of individual investment that helps dreams grow into an even sweeter reality.

About Fifth Third

Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. As of March 31, 2018, the Company had $142 billion in assets and operated 1,153 full-service Banking Centers and 2,459 ATMs with Fifth Third branding in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina. In total, Fifth Third provides its customers with access to more than 54,000 fee-free ATMs across the United States. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer Lending and Wealth & Asset Management. Fifth Third is among the largest money managers in the Midwest and, as of March 31, 2018, had $363 billion in assets under care, of which it managed $37 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations through its Trust and Registered Investment Advisory businesses. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at Fifth Third’s common stock is traded on the Nasdaq® Global Select Market under the symbol “FITB.” Fifth Third Bank was established in 1858. Member FDIC.

About Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF)

Founded in 1988, Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) is a national non-profit organization with a mission to empower people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities through innovative financial solutions. A leading Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), CRF supports mission-driven organizations through the development of products and services aimed at increasing the flow of capital to historically underinvested communities across the country. CRF has injected more than $2.4 billion to help stimulate job creation and economic development, provide affordable housing, and support community facilities. For more information, visit


Fifth Third Bancorp
Laura Trujillo, 513-534-NEWS

Release Summary

Fifth Third invests $5 million to support Small Business Week


Fifth Third Bancorp
Laura Trujillo, 513-534-NEWS