PNC Launches Project 257 to Increase Capital for Women-Owned Business

PITTSBURGH – PNC Bank has launched a new initiative, Project 257, to help close the economic gap faced by women, an effort that includes interest-free business loans in partnership with global nonprofit SheEO.

The effort’s name comes from the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, which stated at the current pace, it would take women 257 years to close the gap. 

“I don’t know anyone who thinks this is an acceptable timeline,” said Beth Marcello, director of PNC Women’s Business Development, in a statement. “As a financial institution that prospers when our customers prosper, it makes perfect sense that we would want to help tackle the economic gender gap. Project 257 aligns with our brand purpose – when we accelerate women’s financial equality, we are making a positive difference, leveraging the power of our resources to help all move forward financially.”

As part of Project 257, PNC has committed $1.25 million to SheEO and will work with the nonprofit to drive awareness and provide 50 “activators”  – one for each of PNC’s markets in the country – who will “play a significant role in the selection mentorship and success of SheEO ventures.” 

SheEO provides interest-free loans to business owned and led by people who present as women or nonbinary and crowdfunds capital from activators, who play an active role in evaluating and selecting ventures.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with PNC and look forward to what we can accomplish together,” said Vicki Saunders, SheEO founder. “As a large financial institution that already does so much for women, PNC’s reach, reputation and values will help to support our Activator and Venture growth and create the conditions for women in business to thrive.”

In addition to Project 257, PNC has several programs aimed at improving women’s financial standing and business opportunities, including the Women’s Business Development’s executive advisory board to 4,000 PNC-certified women’s business advocates, the Women Connect employee resource group with 11,000 members and the Men As Allies program.

“Project 257 and our partnership with SheEO are two great examples of PNC’s support of women across our footprint,” said Lou Cestello, PNC’s head of Regional Markets and regional president of Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania. “Whether we’re working with a woman who runs a major business or one who has just opened her first checking account, we strive to have a positive impact. And as a Main Street Bank that succeeds when our customers and communities succeed, accelerating the financial achievement of roughly 50 percent of the population who are women can have a macro effect on the economic wellbeing of the markets we serve.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.