Gourmet Gorilla has been recently selected as one member of the first cohort of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business class.
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is an investment to help small businesses create jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to business education, financial capital, and business support services. The program is based on the broadly held view of leading experts that greater access to this combination of education, capital and support services best addresses barriers to growth. 10,000 Small Businesses is funded by Goldman Sachs and The Goldman Sachs Foundation.
[CHICAGO, IL] – Support for microfinance organizations that give small businesses and entrepreneurs access to credit will help spur our economic recovery and create jobs, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today at a meeting with officials from ACCION, Chicago’s largest microlender, and the owners of Gourmet Gorilla, an organic school lunch catering company that is one of ACCION’s fastest growing borrowers. ACCION provides credit and other business services to small business owners who do not have access to traditional sources of financing.
“Increased federal funding for microlending programs allows organizations like ACCION to extend credit to small businesses that are ready to expand if we can provide them with the seed money to start growing and hire more workers. Small businesses are the engine of this economy and the key to recovery,” Durbin said.
Durbin, who is the Chairman of the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Subcommittee, secured $25 million for microlending and $20 million for technical assistance grants to support microborrowers through the Small Business Administration (SBA) in the Fiscal Year 2012 omnibus appropriatons bill enacted last month.
The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund – which is also administered through FSGG – received $221 million in the FY12 omnibus. The CDFI Fund supports microlending to individuals and small businesses in addition to project-based financing in underserved areas. Many CDFIs participate in the SBA’s microloan program, including ACCION.
As a result of increased funding, ACCION will double its maximum loan amount in 2012 from $25,000 to $50,000 to help fill the growing gap between high quality small business borrowers and conventional lenders who no longer will provide loans to them.
ACCION Chicago is a part of the ACCION U.S. Network, the largest microfinance network in the United States. Since its founding in 1991, members have collectively lent $305 million to small business owners nationwide. ACCION Chicago has disbursed more than $19 million to over 2,500 clients since 1994. Last year, ACCION originated 301 loans in the Chicagoland area worth more than $2 million. From 2010 through the first three quarters of 2011, loans originated by ACCION have created or retained more than 1,000 jobs in Chicago.
For more information about ACCION Chicago’s small business loan products, visit www.accionchicago.org or call (312) 275-3000.
The award, which promotes access to healthy, affordable, and local foods in under-served communities, will help Gourmet Gorilla continue its community development and food access initiatives. This year a total of $630,000 in awards have been granted to 17 groups who propose innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to resolve barriers to healthy food access among the poorest in the country.
Gourmet Gorilla has identified close to 300 public charter schools and private non-profit schools located in zip codes that intersect Chicago’s three main “food desert” areas. 120,000 children with more than 500,000 related family members that are located in zip codes that transect Chicago’s main food deserts. Illinois is home to 1.6 million elementary school age children, and over 60% of Illinois Children are either overweight or obese. Chicago youth are, on average, 5% more at risk to obesity compared to the rest of the state.
As part of the of the initiative, Gourmet Gorilla, Inc. will increase fresh produce access in underserved communities with a CSA box program using 300 schools as hubs. Working directly with regional farmers and using new and existing distribution and storage infrastructure acquired through this grant, combined with efficient processing and preservation techniques, Gourmet Gorilla will be able to create a food supply chain from which local, sustainably grown organic produce can be sourced and channeled into the underserved areas of the Chicago metropolitan community year round.
Gourmet Gorilla will direct partnerships with rural and urban farms and extend crops beyond the harvest season by upgrading processing, preservation, and storage capabilities. Gourmet Gorilla will also work with collaborators on developing retail products for sale in grocery stores throughout the Midwest as well used as fundraising mechanisms in schools. The reviewers found this to be a well developed model that demonstrates how developing local supply chains can bring down cost while benefitting consumers, farmers and local. Buying locally from contractor growers would significantly reduce cost and allow them to supply competitively priced school lunches. Collaborators are germane to project, have community relationships and support and track record of success.
The concept of healthy, local, prepared meals targeted at the student and family markets are a valuable and needed channel in the food access universe. Gourmet Gorilla is proud to be a working partner with the Wallace Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development Center. It is with great pleasure that we make this announcement!
Gourmet Gorilla has been busy this summer so far, whether its providing snacks for Chicago’s near west side community for the James R Jordan Foundations first”Read With Me” Festival where 5000 books where donated to the local community. Guest appearances included Tim from Green Sugar Press sporting his recently hand painted “Truck Farm” loaded with fresh local veggies; or dropping of 1000 healthy local and organic lunch boxes to youth Chicago’s near south side at the Harold Washington Community Center’s “Still I Rise” event that included youth performances and discussion, special recognition ceremony, food and drink and a viewing of the MAP documentary.