Chicago business owner knows to tap into local capital resources when traditional funding is unavailable

Nicole Jordan

As the owner of a catering company, Nicole Jordan has seen an extreme decline in contracts and income since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately for this Illinois-based small business owner, as a former banker she is well connected to the financial resources in her community.

For Nicole, a degree in Economics from the University of Chicago, culinary training from the Illinois Institute of Art and nearly 20 years of experience in business consulting was the perfect foundation for her to embark on her entrepreneurial journey. For nearly five years, Nicole Jordan Catering has provided a wide variety of food services in Chicago by curating extensive and affordable menus for corporate gatherings, weddings, baby showers and more.

Since she started her business, Nicole has been an active member of the small business community in Chicago. Not only does she sit on the Chicago Inclusive Growth Coalition alongside Small Business Majority, but she has also completed several small business programs including the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, the Accion Neighborhood Entrepreneurship Lab, the NYPACE Founders Forward Business Program, Chicago MSDC the PIPE Program, Inner City Capital Connection Entrepreneur Program, and Coaching and Mentoring Program.

With her extensive background in business and experience working in her community, Nicole knows that Black small business owners are often left out of traditional banking practices, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Nicole says, “As business owners of color, we disproportionally miss out on opportunities for financing. If we look at how we culturally do business, it’s a mom and pop mindset and that is what our books reflect. It’s one thing to be in business and another to run that business.”

This is why Nicole has become very well acquainted with community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and local business organizations that offer her the support she needs.

She explains, “CDFIs come and build that bridge to shift to help shift your business mindset.” These relationships were especially important to Nicole when it became clear to her that Black and women small business owners were going to be largely left behind by funding provided by the CARES Act. While Nicole did receive a loan from the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, she reports that the additional support received through community funding efforts has been critical to keeping her doors open.

By using her social capital as a Black- and woman-owned business to obtain contracts and grants, including her connections from engaging with CDFIs and entrepreneur advocacy groups like Small Business Majority, Nicole has been able to adapt her catering company to offer pre-prepared meal delivery, serving small outdoor dinner parties and relaunching her website.

For anyone who is struggling to access financing right now, Nicole shares that “With federal funding expired, it’s important that small businesses be aware of grant and lending opportunities that are available locally, and CDFIs are a great place to start.”

To find a list of CDFIs and local small business resources near you, check out our online resource hub at

Small Business Profile