Atlanta Emerging Markets, Inc. (AEMI) and the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) have invested $185,000 into four mission-driven ventures to expand their impact in the communities they serve. These investments represent the fifth round of flexible, zero-percent interest loans through the Civic Impact Loan Fund, which was established to intentionally invest in Atlanta-based civic ventures.
According to Stephen McRae, president of Atlanta Emerging Markets, Inc., social entrepreneurship is an essential tool in the fight to make Atlanta a more equitable city. "Not only are these four innovative entrepreneurs scaling their businesses and growing the local economy, but they are directly tackling key social issues in their communities,” said McRae. “Their work is creating real impact, and Atlanta is fortunate to have such passionate and driven leaders fighting for its future.”
Recipients of the AEMI and CCI investment include:
TruDiary offers equitable, quality prenatal care for all moms – providing Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) services, such as food security, mental health support, lactation services, and transportation.
Helping Empower Youth (HEY!) equips youth to be leaders through three initiatives – S.T.E.A.M., a leadership academy and reading program, and devises needs-based programming focused on providing alternatives and options for area youth.
Make Music Count is a math curriculum and app taught through playing the piano. Students improve math skills live and online guided by tutors playing the latest popular songs with its STEAM and SEL curriculum and app for 2nd - 12th grade students.
SAVE Institute is an innovative alternative to traditional high school that allows students to learn academics through projects, life experiences, agriculture, vocational training and implementing business enterprises.
All four entrepreneurs are recent graduates of CCI’s Civic Innovation Fellowship program, which invests in and amplifies the work of community leaders, entrepreneurs and movement builders who are actively solving inequality in Atlanta. The program has supported the work of over 100 community leaders, who have gone on to inform and inspire real policy change in Atlanta and beyond.
“In spite of Atlanta’s widening inequality, which is once again the worst in the country, these leaders provide tangible programs and services that give us a fighting chance to solve it,” says Rohit Malhotra, founder and executive director of the Center for Civic Innovation. “This program invests in people who don't just talk about community, they embody it in who they are and all they do. Truth is the return on investment by solving inequality in our city is better than any other single investment this city could make. It will pay dividends for generations.”
Since launching in 2017, the Civic Impact Loan Fund has provided more than $900,000 in loans to 20 early-stage businesses focused on community engagement, the arts, food security, wellness and education. To date, 80% of those loans have funded Black entrepreneurs, and 80% of all loans have gone to women.
The fund utilizes an innovative character-based underwriting model that leverages AEMI and CCI's resources and relationships with social enterprises, rather than traditional underwriting measures such as credit scores, collateral, or revenue history. A goal of this fund is to inspire other investors in Atlanta to replicate this model of investing.
The partnership also leverages each organizations' services, as AEMI and Invest Atlanta provide underwriting, loan servicing and back-office support for the fund, while CCI leads hands-on training, operational support and the application process for the entrepreneurs seeking capital investments.
Additional capital for the 2022 round was provided by the Atlanta office of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and JP Morgan Chase’s Entrepreneurs of Color Fund.