Women’s Business Development Center Spotlight

Since 1986, the Women’s Business Development Center’s (WBDC) mission has been to support and accelerate business development and growth, targeting women and serving all diverse business owners, in order to strengthen their participation in, and impact on, the economy. The WBDC carries out these various initiatives through its two Women’s Business Centers (WBC), Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) and InventIllinois.

The WBDC’s mission is to increase awareness of entrepreneurship as a viable means of economic self-sufficiency, and stimulate public policy and system changes to support and strengthen economic empowerment of women and other diverse business owners. The organization also works to accelerate the growth rate of minority-owned enterprises. 

The WBDC is a participating lender and business assistance provider for SimpleGrowth, motivated by a shared mission to grow the small business ecosystem across Chicagoland. As a lender, the WBDC provides loans to SimpleGrowth applicants ranging from $1,000 to $75,000. Loans are available for new and existing small businesses in the state of Illinois, with an emphasis in low-to-moderate income communities. Start-up businesses – regardless of size or time in operation – are eligible for funding, as well. Loans can last up to five years, and may be used for a variety of reasons, such as for leasehold improvements, inventory, supplies, and machinery, or equipment purchases.

“The WBDC knows that access to capital is critical in today’s economy for small business owners – particularly those that are female-owned – and we want to do our part in making these businesses a success,” said Emilia DiMenco, President & Chief Executive Officer of the WBDC.

The WBDC team also provides hands-on support with its professional team of business advisors, and can answer questions on every aspect of starting and growing your business.

To learn more about the WBDC, or to apply for a loan or access support for your small business, visit

A Look at SimpleGrowth Lenders: Accion

Accion is a global nonprofit – with a local branch in Chicago, Illinois – and is committed to creating a financially inclusive world, through the focus of microfinance and fintech impact investing. The company assembles financial service providers to deliver high-quality, affordable solutions for the nearly three billion individuals who are underserved in the financial sector, and provides business coaching services for free, as well. Throughout Illinois alone, Accion has distributed more than 5,000 loans, and disbursed nearly $40 million to local entrepreneurs.

Accion is a participating lender with SimpleGrowth, because of the platform’s focus on growing the Chicagoland business ecosystem through both financing and education. Like SimpleGrowth, part of Accion’s core focus is education – specifically targeting financial literacy and business training. In addition to financing, Accion offers programming for businesses across industries.

Accion loans – which are tailored to meet specific needs, and range from $500-$100,000 – come with access to business experts, special events, networking and exclusive online resources to take businesses to the next level. SimpleGrowth applicants are also matched with a knowledgeable loan expert to guide you through the loan process and beyond.

“Accion is a leader in the responsible lending movement and dedicated to advancing local and national initiatives that support and empower entrepreneurs,” said Brad McConnell, chief executive officer of Accion Chicago.

Loans are available to a variety of entrepreneurs, such as women-owned businesses, veteran-owned businesses, start-ups, business in the restaurant and food industry, and more.

To apply for an Accion loan and options from other mission-driven lenders, find out if you qualify today at