Add Microloans to Small Business Financing Options

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 3, 2012 | Go to article overview

Add Microloans to Small Business Financing Options


Debi Thomas found startup money watching a TV program about The Boston Beer Co. Turns out the Massachusetts brewer, best known for its Samuel Adams craft beers, connects with various Accion microloan programs throughout the country.

Fast forward to Accion Chicago and the final financial piece that allowed Thomas and her husband, Rick Scott, to open in March.

"We had no collateral, nothing to substantiate that we could build this business and succeed," Thomas says. Banks weren't interested, but "Accion was."

Bob Knox is president and CEO of., a 40-year old West Chicago business that focuses on millimeter wave systems -- radar and communications, Knox explains. The company's bank said "No" when Knox, who wanted to ease the dips on the recession roller coaster ride, asked for an increase in Epsilon Lambda's existing line of credit.

"We explored a more liberal line of credit with other banks, but with no success," Knox says. One of those bankers, however, suggested Accion Chicago -- and Epsilon Lambda got its money.

"The big banks don't need my business," Knox says. "They'll give me money if there's no risk. Accion is a different type of organization."

There are no angel investors at Accion Chicago. No crowdfunding. But the microlender clearly is a financing option for qualifying Chicago-area small businesses -- very much including those in the suburbs. There are just a couple of possible hitches:

* Loan amounts are small. Loans max out at $20,000 for startups, $50,000 for established businesses. …

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