Photo Courtesy of The Circle of Aunts and Uncles.
Photo Courtesy of The Circle of Aunts and Uncles.

A local program of ‘Aunts and uncles’ dedicated to providing loans to young business owners

The Circle of Aunts and Uncles was founded in 2015 by White Dog Cafe owner and local activist, Judy Wicks.


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Young, up and coming entrepreneurs are often led with disappointing news whenever searching for a loan to fund their business. This is often because of their little to no credit or lack of life experience.

Luckily, Judy Wicks and other retired business owners are there for local undersourced entrepreneurs who have dreamt about starting their own business venture.

Wicks, who ran the local food chain, White Dog Cafe for almost 30 years, wanted to give back to the community and provide for those who are experiencing underwhelming times. So with the help of other local retirees, she decided to create the Circle of Aunts and Uncles (CAU) in 2015.

The loan program is not only just a financial boost for local business owners, they also help mentor young adults by giving them financial advice, providing contacts, and building long-lasting friendships. The program offers low interest loans for young entrepreneurs throughout the Philadelphia area.

“It’s a substitute for family and friends' stage capital,” Wicks said to Next City. “That’s why we call it the Circle of Aunts and Uncles.”

The Circle of Aunts and Uncles have served over 30 individuals and have loaned around $360,000. The CAU allows borrowers to loan up to $20,000.

“The Aunts and Uncles are all people that want to do something to create a more just and sustainable economy, but in normal life it’s hard to know how to do that,” Wicks said. “Through the CAU, seniors can apply their values of economic justice and environmental sustainability while developing personal relationships with young entrepreneurs to build a new economy.”

Some businesses that CAU has helped have been a beneficial part of the Philadelphia business community, such as Grant Blvd, a Black owned women-led business located in the Powelton section of Philadelphia.

Another business funded by the CAU loan is Weckerly’s Ice Cream located in Fishtown.

While The Circle of Aunts and Uncles is a loan program, they only charge a three percent interest rate. That rate goes back into the loan program to provide others with a monetary boost.

For more information on The Circle of Aunts and Uncles, visit their website.


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