Currently, there are 230,000 small businesses in Chicago, with a large portion of these businesses owned and ran by African Americans. Yet, securing financial help to open or expand a business is considered one of the greatest hurdles for African American entrepreneurs.
However, Chicago City Treasurer, Kurt Summers, aims to help these small business owners while working in conjunction with lenders.
In collaboration with the national online lender Fundera, and micro-lender Accion, the national advocacy group Small Business Majority have developed SimpleGrowth, a new online lending marketplace. The goal is to enable African American entrepreneurs in Chicago to connect with local lenders with greater ease.
The online portal does this by providing small business owners with access to affordable financing and business assistance while mitigating the long process of filling out multiple applications.
The loans available to business owners will range from $500 to $500,000, with various rates. Accion, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Small Business, and the Women’s Business Development Center are a few of the institutions who will put forward financing for the new portal.
Lindsay Mueller, Midwest director for Small Business Majority, states, “We know minorities and women have the most trouble obtaining small business loans, Chicago seemed to have a need for a tool like SimpleGrowth,” reports Black Enterprise.
This funding follows JP Morgan Chase’s recent announcement to invest over $2 million to minority entrepreneurs in Chicago. According to a recent report from the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, entrepreneurship is a strong force of economic growth and higher employment rates in deprived neighborhoods.
However, as previously mentioned, obtaining financial support and resources needed to grow a business can be very problematic.
As a result, JPMorgan Chase & Co. is pouring over $2 million of investment into minority-owned businesses in Chicago as part of a $40 million commitment to build disenfranchised communities and boost local economies in neighborhoods located on the South Side and West Side.
The investment will be divided among six nonprofits that empower entrepreneurs of color and female founders with access to capital, mentorship, and networking opportunities.
“Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the main job creators in neighborhoods so helping them get a head start through these terrific programs is a smart way to build a financially healthier future for the whole community,” said Whitney Smith, head of Midwest Philanthropy, JP Morgan Chase, in a statement Thursday. “We are proud to partner with local nonprofits in these neighborhoods to help entrepreneurs of color get the resources they need to grow and thrive.”