By Ryan Velez
The Black community is a large part of Chicago, and Black Enterprise reports that the city has done a major thing to support Black business, with a $20 million deposit into the ISF Bank—the oldest and last Black-owned Chicago-based bank. Formerly known as the Illinois Service Federal Savings and Loan Association, the bank’s chairman, Papa Kwesi Nduom, says the money will be going into several different purposes.
Nduom explained that the money could go towards loans for Black entrepreneurs wanting to open or expand businesses. Other uses could be potentially lending to commercial developers to build houses, condos, or apartments—as well as to Black homebuyers—in neighborhoods it serves. The deposit provides “a much-needed boost to our financial foundation, ensuring that we can strengthen the economic base of our communities and help people fulfill their dreams,” he explains.
“This will help us become a more significant player in the economic revitalization in the Chicago black community,” Nduom adds. “This will do some good and wonderful things for the bank.”
At the time, Chicago is having some major issues, with observers noting that the cash infusion could do something to lower violence, create jobs, and lessen economic disparity that some see in the city.
City Treasurer Kurt Summers told Black Enterprise that the deposited money would indeed allow ISF Bank to make more loans and invest more directly back into the communities where many of their customers reside. He added that “it is our hope that with this deposit and the confidence it conveys to other organizations and individuals recognizing the important role that community banks serve here in Chicago and elsewhere, and entertain opening accounts of their own.”
Summers notes that the city maintains roughly $300 million to $700 million in larger non-Black owned banks during the course of a fiscal year. However, there is something special about this particular deposit. “We heard it first-hand right after the press announcement where local small business owners and community members who were present at the event highlighted that they will open an account with ISF Bank to support them,” Summers says. “The community heard the call to action in regards to supporting ISF Bank and they are willing to do their part as we were willing to do ours and invest in them.”
This may also indirectly help the bank’s operations as well. Nduom mentioned that the investment is seen as a credibility boost in the eyes of many, and makes ISF Bank a more viable option for individuals, businesses, and organizations to consider for loans, deposits, and other relationships.