Atlanta Emerging Markets Inc. officially closed on the first round of its new Civic Impact Loans program that will go to three Atlanta social entrepreneurs. The flexible, zero-percent interest rate loans will support honorCode, Marddy’s, and Gilliam’s Community Garden as they seek to expand their businesses and make a greater impact in the communities they serve.
“We established the Civic Impact Loan fund to support local businesses in Atlanta,” says Michael Syphoe, board chair of Atlanta Emerging Markets Inc. “From enhancing K-12 STEAM education to cultivating urban agriculture to supporting our city’s unique culinary culture, these three companies demonstrate how small social enterprises can have a big impact within our communities.”
“These first three loan recipients all demonstrate how businesses can focus on the bottom line while also making a difference in our city,” Dr. Eloisa Klementich, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta and a member of the AEMI board, says “Atlanta is a place where social entrepreneurship can continue to thrive, and we look forward to supporting more social impact investing and talented enterprises in the future.”
A non-profit social enterprise, honorCode provides curriculum and training to schools to bring computer science and social emotional learning into the general K12 classroom. honorCode plans to use the loan funding to hire an additional team member to facilitate more trainings for teachers within Atlanta Public Schools. Last year, honorCode won the 2016 Forbes Change the World Entrepreneurship Competition at its Under 30 Summit last year. And its founder and CEO, Jeffrey Martín, was recently honored on the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 List and The Wharton School’s 40 Under 40 List, where he is an alumnus (W’13).
Gilliam’s Community Garden is an outdoor kitchen to teach residents how to prepare healthy food for their families. Its goal is to improve community health in the area around Oakland City Atlanta neighborhood through urban agriculture. Gilliam’s provides residents with access to fresh fruits, vegetables and poultry products.
Marddy’s is a shared kitchen space and marketplace for food-based entrepreneurs on the Westside. The owner, Keitra Bates, was recently featured on the NPR series, “Kitchen Table Conversations.” Her mission is to preserve culinary culture of the Westside by supporting home chefs within the community. Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, a certified Community Development Financial Institution, has already provided support to the business with a loan to purchase the building where it is located. Funding obtained through the Civic Impact Loan will be used for staffing and marketing purposes.
AEMI is a U.S. Treasury-certified Community Development Entity created by Invest Atlanta in 2006 that specializes in providing gap financing for projects that create jobs and revitalize Atlanta’s distressed neighborhoods. In 2016, the AEMI board of directors approved the allocation of $100,000 to finance a pilot revolving loan fund for social entrepreneurship in Atlanta.