CHICAGO — North Lawndale-based Sweet Beginnings is receiving a $500,000 “social impact loan” from Benefit Chicago.
Sweet Beginnings, a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network, uses the production of beeloveTM — a line of honey-based products — to provide job training to community residents who face barriers to employment.
Sweet Beginnings $500,000 loan will be used to expand production and sales, which will increase the number of people hired and their length of employment.
“We have turned having a good heart into a good business. Strong demand for our beelove products is giving individuals and their families a second chance at a sweet beginning,” said Palms Barber, Sweet Beginnings Founding CEO, in a release.
“This loan will, for the first time, allow us to achieve the transformation we seek as a social enterprise business – becoming a sustainable production facility that annually employs residents from the west side of Chicago. This type of capital is extremely difficult for leaders of color to access. My thanks to Benefit Chicago for looking out for small businesses of color.”
A collaboration of The Chicago Community Trust, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Calvert Foundation, Benefit Chicago was created to expand the pool of loans and investments available to mission-directed for- and nonprofit entities, which, due to the communities or populations they serve, often find it difficult to access capital from commercial sources, according to a news release.