Chicago nonprofit expands loan sizes for Black entrepreneurs

The nonprofit specifically serves Black-owned small businesses that have either been denied or don’t have access to commercial investments because the loans are too small or because the companies lack sufficient collateral or adequate credit scores.

“Quite a few foundations and banking institutions really doubled down their investment into our organization, especially during COVID and during the civil unrest that was caused by the murder of George Floyd,” said King, who appeared on Crain’s 2020 Notable Minorities in Commercial Banking list. “We’ve always attracted capital, but I think the pandemic really highlighted a lot of the disparities that exist.”

The organization said it changed its name to Greenwood Archer Capital to pay homage to what is known as Black Wall Street, a prosperous and thriving Black community in Tulsa, Okla., in the early 20th century. The business community, which was massacred and destroyed in 1921, sat near the intersection of Greenwood Avenue and Archer Street. 

“We see our work as being rooted in the growth of small and Black businesses, so we wanted to make sure that we deepened our commitment and picked a name that really spoke to the work that we have been doing historically and the work that we want to continue to do,” King said.

The new, larger loans are designed for small business owners to purchase commercial real estate for their ventures, King said. The loans won’t require down payments and interest rates will be as low as 3 percent.

Since its inception in 2012, Greenwood Archer Capital says it has deployed nearly $18 million in loans and grants to more than 1,600 small businesses. About 90 percent of its loans and financial services have been given to minority entrepreneurs.

The nonprofit serves businesses across industries in Chicagoland but has also done deals with companies in Normal, Ill., and Northwest Indiana, King said. Greenwood Archer Capital sources companies to lend to through an application on its website but also finds companies through events and workshops it hosts, and partnerships with accountants and banks.

“We know what the barriers are with folks getting access to capital and this is why we exist—to break down those barriers,” King said.

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