ACCION CHICAGO TAKING CARE OF BUSINESSES FOR 20 YEARS

When the banks turned him down, Adam turned to Accion: 

Adam Kafkes in Pita Heaven

Adam Kafkes in Pita Heaven

Adam Kafkes was raised in Greece where he and his wife owned and operated their own restaurant. When they moved to Chicago in 2009, they wanted to continue that work and opened Pita Heaven in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood. When they first opened the restaurant they needed to replace an aging refrigerator. Adam first turned to his banker who explained that a $15,000 loan was too small and that with Adam’s limited collateral, the best place for him to turn was Accion. Adam quickly secured a loan and replaced the refrigerator without missing a beat.”

Over 20 years, Accion has made nearly 3,800 small business loans totaling $30 million in Illinois and Northwest Indiana. Today, they offer loans from $500 – $100,000 for businesses that qualify. Accion Chicago forecasts that it will make 500 loans totaling more than $4 million in 2014 at an average of $9,000 per loan.

That’s great growth from their first 66 loans totaling $270,000 in 1994. That’s major economic impact for local communities with an estimated 1,500 jobs and $25 million in local payroll in 2014.

While the fight for community reinvestment originated over redlining in housing lending, business lending has always been a challenge too. Good paying jobs can make housing affordable. Self-employment in pursuit of the entrepreneurial dream may even be more prevalent today.

Accion Chicago addresses the need for business credit by low to moderate income “micro” entrepreneurs, and owners of very small businesses. As a result of their businesses’ small size or lack of credit history, many clients were unable to access commercial credit before coming to Accion. But, with educational efforts and a small loan from Accion Chicago, they are working hard to expand their businesses and increase their incomes.

Accion Chicago is now one of the top five microlenders in the country and is a member of the Accion U.S. Network which connects the five regional Accion affiliates to maximize resources nationally. Their 20th Anniversary celebration “Taste of Accion” in November highlighted several of their successful clients.

Pamela Jones & CharBoy's. Photo by by Manuel Martinez

Pamela Jones & CharBoy’s. Photo by by Manuel Martinez

Pamela Jones, owner of International House of Sauces & Seasonings, shared her story of branding her century-old family recipe for a spicy barbecue sauce as CharBoy’s. As several local grocery chains started ordering the sauces, she ran out of credit card capacity. With several loans from Accion Chicago as modest injections of working capital, she was able to fund additional production runs. Now Pamela is considering building her own packing plant and was featured in an October Crain’s Chicago Business special report. 

Accion Chicago is investing in the economic future of our communities by taking care of businesses.

Taking care of business (every day)
Taking care of business (every way)
I’ve been taking care of business (it’s all mine)
Taking care of business and working overtime
— Bachman Turner Overdrive

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