Catalytic Capital | May 24, 2017

Benefit Chicago backs six small businesses and community lenders

The team at


Benefit Chicago has made its first six investments in the Chicago area, totaling $12 million.

The planned $100 million fund has raised $77 million so far, including $50 million from the MacArthur Foundation, $15 million from the Chicago Community Trust and an additional $12 million via the Calvert Foundation, which offers its Community Investment notes to individuals for as little as $20.

“When you invite people to put small amounts of money into this you can’t be disappointed,” Julia Stasch, MacArthur’s president, told the Chicago Tribune. The loan fund was launched last year to invest in high-need neighborhoods and social programs in Chicago (see, “The Chicago Model”).

Early borrowers include: AutonomyWorks, a social enterprise that employs adults with autism; hydroponic farming venture Garfield Produce Co.; and Sweet Beginnings, a honey producer that employs citizens returning from incarceration.

The fund is also backing three community development institutions that invest in local social projects: community development finance institution CNI; community lender and real estate developer IFF; and LISC Chicago.