Living Cities, a nonprofit collaborative of groups aiming to improve the fortunes of low-income people, will invest as much as $500,000 in entrepreneurs working to tackle social and environmental issues facing southeast Louisiana.
The effort is part of the Washington, D.C.-based group's nationwide $37 million impact investing debt fund, called the Blended Catalyst Fund. It will support a new partnership to be launched next year by the New Orleans-based Propeller and the Baton Rouge-based Foundation for Louisiana.
Through this effort, the two local organizations will make loans to nonprofit and for-profit social ventures that are working on solving pressing issues in food access, water management, educational equity and health, Propeller said.
“Today’s commitment by Living Cities will address access to capital needs for small businesses in our region," said Flozell Daniels, CEO of the Foundation for Louisiana. "We are excited about the response we have received to this idea from local, regional and national banks, community development finance institutions and other lenders across southeast Louisiana.”
The partnership will seek to address funding gaps faced by New Orleans’s small businesses, particularly women and minority-owned businesses, by offering loans with favorable terms and mentoring borrowers.
"New, accessible sources of capital are crucial to the viability and growth of the New Orleans entrepreneurial community,” Propeller Executive Director Andrea Chen said. "I am grateful to all of the partners who have committed to invest in the small businesses and nonprofits working to solve critical issues in their communities and across our region.”
Additional support for the new fund will be provided by the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, the blue moon fund and the Ella West Freeman Foundation, Propeller said.
Details on how to apply for loans will be announced in early 2017.
Earlier this month, Propeller announced it was awarded a two-year, $420,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Propeller, which was selected from more than 375 applicants nationwide, plans to use the money to implement programs to help address racial inequalities.