USI and Wetzel’s Pretzels Announce Partnership to Support Business Opportunities for Women and Ethnic Minorities

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI MARCH 6, 2022 | Urban Strategies, Inc. Community Development Financial Institution (USI CDFI) and Wetzel’s Pretzels (Wetzel’s) are proud to announce a partnership to make franchise ownership more accessible for women and ethnic minorities.  The Wetzel’s Pretzels Access to Equity Program is designed to provide underrepresented groups the financial and business resources they need to succeed as Wetzel’s franchisees.

Through the collaboration, the brands aim to create a pathway to ownership for qualified candidates across all backgrounds. The beloved pretzel chain will refer aspiring entrepreneurs to the USI CDFI for assistance in providing access to capital and other business resources needed to support their career goals.

The program will use a variety of metrics to measure performance of the target franchisees including: the number of participants who apply for a CDFI loan, the percentage of participants who receive a loan, the number of loans and their average amount, the number of program participants who receive business resources and technical assistance from USI’s CDFI.

CDFI certification is a designation given to specialized organizations that provide financial services in low-income communities and to people who lack access to more traditional financing. The CDFI Fund works to help empower low-income and underserved people and communities to enter the financial mainstream.  USI leverages strategies to disrupt the wealth gap through the creation of strategic, equitable partnerships like with Wetzel’s Pretzels.

USI President Esther Shin said of the USI CDFI:

“Being a national leader in people-centered community development, USI’s CDFI certification furthers the opportunities to strengthen economic mobility and financial empowerment with residents in the communities that we serve daily. These services provide additional means that can help financially vulnerable persons of color, specifically African American, and communities of color to create pathways to thrive.”

Wetzel’s Pretzels CEO Jennifer Schuler said of her company’s Access to Equity Program:

“We’re on a mission to disrupt inequality and empower prospective minority and women leaders with the resources needed to successfully launch their entrepreneurial career. It was important for us to design a program that both levels the playing field and elevates conversations about diversity and inclusion within our system and across the restaurant industry.”

Founded in 1978, Urban Strategies, Inc. is a national nonprofit leader with extensive experience in implementing results-based human capital development strategies in communities that are undergoing physical revitalization. USI supports communities while working with partners to develop economic opportunities, cradle-to-college/career success, high quality health services and a range of comprehensive service supports.  The organization is leading people efforts and neighborhood transformation in 24 cities and 41 neighborhoods across the nation. For more information

Wetzel’s Pretzels is committed to making franchise ownership more accessible to women and ethnic minorities. Through the creation of its Access to Equity Program, the brand aims to increase owner representation by providing financial discounts, as well as educational and mentorship opportunities to underrepresented candidates from all backgrounds. The program launch, coupled with the brand’s targeted recruitment efforts, showcases its dedication to inclusion for all qualified candidates.

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