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Allies for Community Business, an incredible resource for small businesses

North Branch Works
May 25, 2021

A nonprofit, Community Development Financial Institution, Allies for Community Business strengthens small businesses by helping them access capital, develop innovative strategies through coaching, and collaborate to obtain important resources.

Located in East Garfield Park on Chicago’s West Side, Allies for Community Business works with public, private, and nonprofit partners to serve entrepreneurs and small businesses in Illinois and Indiana.

Formerly known as Accion Chicago, Allies for Community Business focuses on underserved communities including businesses owned by Black, Latinx, women, and low-income people.

The organization has a loan program and can make loans to startups and existing businesses ranging from $500 to $100,000. And if a business needs a loan greater than $100,000, A4CB can connect them to other lenders in its network.

The loan program targets businesses that historically experience difficulty accessing capital through the conventional lending system. Unlike other lenders, Allies for Community Business does not use credit scores or place liens on personal assets.

Instead, the organization makes its lending decisions based on how well a business has managed its debt over the past two years and how much income is available for monthly payments. For more information and to apply for a loan, please go here.

Along with its lending program, Allies for Community Business maintains a webpage with current grant opportunities for businesses. A4CB staff encourages and helps businesses to apply for grants before considering its loan program.

In addition to helping businesses access capital, Allies for Community Business offers individual and group coaching sessions for early-stage, emerging, and established businesses. To learn more about its trainings and to schedule a session, please go here.

Allies for Community Business also specializes in helping food and beverage entrepreneurs invest in underserved communities. In 2016, the organization formed a partnership with the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago. Together they launched The Hatchery, a 67,000 square foot food and beverage incubator on the West Side.

Some of the resources available to businesses at The Hatchery include: fifty-four private kitchens leasable per year, five shared kitchen spaces rentable by the hour, and a twelve-week training program for aspiring chefs ages 16 to 25.

During the pandemic, Allies for Community Business understood the overwhelming need for its services and accelerated its programming, resulting in the allocation of nearly $400 million in grants and loans to 22,000 businesses, and 15,000 businesses receiving customized trainings.

Recently, Allies for Community Business became one of eight regional business centers funded by the City of Chicago. Thanks to this program, the nonprofit has expanded its services to help businesses resolve licensing issues and obtain public way permits, which previously required a trip to City Hall.

North Branch Works members and supporters can help Allies for Community Business by signing up for its newsletter and following A4CB on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

We're proud to partner with Allies for Community Business and would like to thank Mary Fran Riley (see below, second from left), Director of Community Relationships, for participating in our recent Spring Fundraiser.

With questions and to connect with Allies for Community Business, please reach out to Yessenia Diaz De Leon, Associate Director of Community Business,

Image credits: Allies for Community Business

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– John Smith, CEO of a very important business