Open business sign.
Greater opportunities for these businesses. Photo: Pixabay.

Old National Bank unveils Empowerment Small Business Loan Program to address the systemic inequalities of capital access

The new program targets businesses in diverse communities with revenues of less than $25 million.



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Old National Bank, a Chicago-based regional bank with more than 200 branches in the Midwest, recently announced a new small business loan program to boost access to capital in diverse communities. The Empowerment Small Business Loan Program will support businesses with revenues of less than $25 million and more than 50% minority and/or women-owned to break some of the systemic inequalities in the process of raising capital for diverse small businesses. 

Jim Ryan, Old National CEO, pointed out:

When you strengthen the ability of traditionally underserved individuals to start or grow their business, the entire community benefits.

The program

Among the challenges for people of color seeking to raise new capital for a business venture, Old National Bank highlighted research from the Brookings Institution, which found that the median credit scores of the Hispanic and Black populations are 33 and 57 points lower, respectively, relative to white populations.

“The Empowerment Small Business Loan Program enables Old National to provide lending services to gifted entrepreneurs who might otherwise be denied access to capital,” added Ryan.

Important facts:

  • A $50 million pilot phase of the program has kicked off in the Chicago, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Evansville (Indiana), Minneapolis & St. Paul and Louisville markets. Old National has already approved more than $2.1 million in new loans through the program.
  • To support the new program, Old National promoted Tracy Meeks and Leo López to Community Lending Market Executive positions in the Milwaukee and Indianapolis markets, respectively.
  • Old National recently welcomed Twin Cities-based Emma Kasiga as another member of its Community Lending Market Executive team.

“At its core, our Empowerment Small Business Loan Program is about leveling the playing field and partnering with outstanding women and minority entrepreneurs for whom the traditional system can be limiting and frustrating. When businesses grow, we grow,” said Roland Shelton, chief strategic business partnership officer for Old National.

Leo López stated: “When institutional change comes about this quickly, it reflects support from senior leadership and visionary alignment across the organization. But it also speaks to the urgency of the need and, frankly, the opportunity it represents.”

Get to know: Old National Bancorp

The holding company for Old National Bank, which is the sixth largest commercial bank headquartered in the Midwest. Since its founding in 1834, Old National Bank has focused on community banking by creating long-term, high-value partnerships with customers and the communities it serves.


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