Find how and where to get loans and/or free grants in Illinois for your business. There will funds allocated to disadvantaged businesses, which include minority companies (Black, Latino, Asian owned) as well as women owned or veteran businesses. Find the lenders, corporations and programs below that are near you in Illinois for funds. Everything from free grants to low cost loans, mentoring, and other small business or start up assistance is provided.
Small business funding may be provided by the federal government or state of Illinois. There are also non-profit grant programs, loans from banks or foundations, and more. Each loan or free grant program listed will allocate some of the money for women as well as minority owned (or run companies). Some of the agencies may also give startup funding to entrepreneurs or mid sized companies as well.
Funds are allocated across the state. There is financial assistance for minority and women owned businesses in Chicago, Joliet, Springfield and other cities. Free grants or loans can generally cover any business expense, ranging from rent to insurance, equipment, payroll, and other costs. The money can help save a business or provide the capital they need to grow.
Small business loans or free grants in Illinois
The list below is updated daily, as new free grants as well as loan programs are announced. Call or look online to apply for help. Black owned companies, LGBTQ, Latinos, Asians, and women owned businesses can get the help they need.
Ongoing, year round programs
Allies for Community Business (Accion Chicago) is a non-profit community lender in Chicago. They offer loans, grants, free coaching or mentoring to entrepreneurs, financial aid and more. The assistance is for Cook County and Chicago small businesses, with a focus on Black, Latino, Veteran, LGTBG and women among others. Most of the financing will be in the form of loans. Learn more here. https://a4cb.org/
March and April 2021
Chicago small disadvantaged businesses can receive financial help from a $25 million program created by the city. The funds are for minority, veteran, immigrant, Black or Latino owned and borrowers with bad or poor credit. It is run in partnership with the SBA as well as PPP program. The Chicago Impact Fund is aimed at ensuring the most disadvantaged businesses have access to the capital they need. Read more here. https://crfusappploans.com/partners/city-of-chicago/
November and December 2020
Rockford Illinois small businesses can get free cash/grants from the CARES Act. The funds are part of the Community Development Program. Everything from rent to working capital, sales and marketing help, utilities, salaries, and other bills can be paid. Tens of thousands of dollars will be allocated to minority businesses, including females, LGTBQ, Veterans, African Americans and others. Apply here https://rockfordil.gov/city-departments/community-and-economic-development/neighborhood-development/
Restaurants and/or bars in Chicago can get financial help in the form of free grants. The federal government, state, and city of Chicago are partnering together to help small, independent owned restaurants, pubs as well as bars including Black, Brown, and women keep their doors open. The assistance program is known as the Chicago Hospitality Grant, and up to $10,000 can be paid out for rent, salaries, food, utilities, inventory, and other bills. It can also help food delivery costs. Apply here. https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/cdph/provdrs/health_protection_and_response/news/2020/november/mayor-lightfoot-announces–10-million-chicago-hospitality-grant-.html
Chicago and Cook County businesses that have been hit by riots’, fire, civil unrests or other issues can apply for the Rebuild Distressed Communities (RDC) program. The funds are only for businesses impacted by civil disorder, whether minority, male, women, or anything else. Most of the grants are for the city of Chicago. Read more or apply here. https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/Pages/default.aspx
Service type businesses in Illinois, such as bars, restaurants, gyms, fitness centers, pubs and others can get grants from the Illinois Business Interruption Grants (BIG). While funds are offered to all small businesses or sole-proprietors, some of the BIG grants will be reserved for minority owned companies, black owned businesses, veterans and others. Millions of dollars are being paid out to businesses hard hit by COVID. Apply here or read more. https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/SmallBizAssistance/Pages/C19DisadvantagedBusGrants.aspx
Over $200 million in grants will be issued to businesses struggling from the Pandemic and/or Civil Unrest. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is accepting applications and disbursing funds. Both of them, the Business Interruption Grants (BIG) as well as the Rebuild Distressed Communities (RDC), are free grants with a focus on disadvantaged businesses, including immigrants, Black, Latina, female, veterans and others in Illinois. There are funds for small businesses in low income communities, farmers, and others. The bottom line is Illinois is offering many startup and small to mid sized business grants to minorities, women, and struggling companies. More details are here. https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/Pages/default.aspx
The Chicago Urban League is offering free grants (of up to $5000), technical assistance, mentoring and other support to small businesses that are Black owned. Most of the aid is for very small businesses that are one, two, or small firms. the grants and resources are offered in partnership with the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company. Applications are at the Urban League Chicago Help Center. https://www.culcovid19.com/
Over $270 million in free grants will be issued by the state of Illinois run Business Interruption Grant program. To date, about 50 percent of BIG grant recipients are women and/or minority owned. About one quarter are Asian owned companies and about 25% are Latinx-owned or Black business owners. https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/SmallBizAssistance/Pages/C19DisadvantagedBusGrants.aspx
By Jon McNamara