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LISC Small Business Helps Auntie Ena’s House Continue to Provide Childcare Service on the South Side

By: Paolo Cisneros
Published: October 26, 2015

When Ena Jones’ home was ransacked last spring, she lost more than peace of mind.

“I’d never experienced anything like that before,” she said. “It was definitely a shock to the system, and for a long time I really didn’t know how to feel.”

The burglars took television sets, computers, cash, personal items, and furniture among other belongings. They left her home in a state of chaos — one from which she is only now beginning to recover.

“I’m not a materialistic person — I don’t care about things — but it happened at a very vulnerable financial time for me,” she said. “The more it began to sink in, the more violated I began to feel.”

For 16 years now, Jones has run a childcare center out of her home in the Roseland community on the city’s far South Side. In addition to caring for her neighbor’s children, she teaches life skills classes to teenage parents, provides transportation, helps with meals, offers homework assistance and provides other services her clients and their children might need.

But as a result of the ongoing budget stalemate, Jones has not been paid her full due by the state of Illinois since April. The following month’s burglary made matters even worse.

While no one was home at the time of the robbery, the incident left Jones and her business — Auntie Ena’s House — in an ultra-precarious state.

Without the financial resources necessary to rebuild, Jones turned to Kiva Zip — a nonprofit organization and LISC partner that enables underserved small business owners to crowdsource zero-percent interest microloans online. 

In addition to facilitating loans that might be too small to interest commercial banks, Kiva Zip calls upon a borrower’s personal network to determine creditworthiness. In order to broadcast their request to Kiva Zip’s expansive community of lenders, borrowers must first secure loans from friends and family members who vouch for their character in the form of loans as little as $25.

“Kiva Zip is a great option for entrepreneurs who don’t yet qualify for a traditional bank loan,” said Maddy Woodle, Business Development Associate at LISC Small Business. “By evaluating creditworthiness based on a borrower’s trust network, Kiva Zip is putting personal relationships back into our financial system and expanding access to capital.”

LISC Small Business is managed by New Markets Support Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of LISC focused on revitalizing distressed communities through investment in small businesses and commercial real estate.

For Dionne Baux, a Senior Program Officer at LISC Chicago, LISC Small Business represents an important component of the LISC network’s efforts to strengthen communities through targeted investments in people. 

In the case of Auntie Ena’s House, Jones listed her $3,000 loan request on KivaZip.org in the middle of July and received her funds by the end of August. LISC Small Business matched individuals’ loans to Jones dollar-for-dollar — a move Woodle said was motivated by the organization’s mission to support entrepreneurs in historically disinvested communities and ensure they fully fund their Kiva Zip campaigns.

While there is much work left to be done in her effort to rebuild her business, Jones said she’s grateful for the support of the 51 Kiva Zip lenders who have set her back on the path to normalcy. After she pays back her loan, she plans to expand her business while paying that good will forward.

“Once I get back on my feet, I want to invest in other entrepreneurs through Kiva Zip,” she said.

For more information on the Kiva Zip program visit www.KivaZip.org and for LISC’s economic development efforts contact Dionne Baux, dbaux@lisc.org.

Posted in Areas of Work, Neighborhoods

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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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