Major banks look to catalyze Chicago’s minority entrepreneurs

By July 20, 2018

Both JPMorgan Chase and Fifth Third banks have put in a combined $5.5 million to a fund designed to give more opportunities to minority businesspeople in Chicago. Called the Chicago Entrepreneurs of Color Fund

The initiative is designed to provide technical training to minority entrepreneurs in the important Midwestern hub. Startup founders and company executives who come from minority populations sometimes struggle to secure loans and the bank donations look to help overturn that destructive stereotype that works against such business owners.

JPMorgan Chase, which has promised $3 million of the total contribution, has given to similar projects in cities like Detroit and San Francisco.

“If it’s replicable, we want to do it everywhere,” Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon told the Chicago Tribune. “We can’t do it overnight, but you’re going to see it expand.”

Chase has, to date, invested some $40 million in the South and West Side areas of Chicago to help with community projects and businesses.

For its part, the Ohio-based Fifth Third has been donating to similar projects throughout the Midwest as it looks to provide an impetus for doing business in the Rust Belt.

“There are opportunities to compete when looking for clients and business opportunities, but when it comes to investing in the community, I don’t think there’s any competition,” Third Bank’s Chicago regional president Eric Smith told the Tribune.

Accion Chicago and Local Initiatives Support Corporation are a pair of local partners that the banks are working with to donate money and have them best coordinate the funds.

Only 18 percent of Chicago businesses are owned by people of color, with just two percent being owned by black people, according to numbers from the Chicago Tribune. The banks and local organizations hope the $5.5 million fund will serve to encourage more people of color coming up with startup ideas in these neighborhoods.

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