Questions and Answers

-To read more about the terms and conditions, click the Frequently Asked Questions topics listed below.

General Eligibility

Q: What are the basic qualifications of all business loan applicants?
A: The basic qualifications for all business loan applicants are:
The applicant must live or operate a business in an area served by CNIMFG.
The client’s residence status should be determined and documented through a Social Security Number, Tax Identification number, Green Card, etc.
The applicant should have limited or no perceived access to bank business credit.
The applicant must be at least twenty-one (21) years of age or older than eighteen (18) with a qualifying co-signer.
Must be legally competent to enter into a binding contract.
An applicant’s income must be sufficient to repay the loan from CNIMFG.
The applicant must have a strong sense of responsibility for the timely repayment of the loan from CNIMFG as well as all other personal and business obligations.
Must have invested some savings or personal equity in the business.

Q: What would make an applicant INELIGIBLE?
A: The following would make an applicant INELIGIBLE:
Outstanding tax liens (If you are on a payment plan, please mention this to your loan officer.)
Active bankruptcy or a bankruptcy that has been discharged less than 12 months prior to the application
Business involved in lending, adult businesses, firearms, real estate development, non-profit organizations, multi-level   marketing programs and other ineligible business.
Delinquent mortgage, rent, or child support, or multiple recent charge-offs and delinquencies that have not been addressed.

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Loan Amounts, Interest Rates and Terms

Q: What is the maximum amount of a loan that I can Borrower?
A: CNIMFG currently offers loans ranging from $500 to $50,000. Although we are not primarily driven by credit scores, your credit score will determine the maximum amount of a loan that we will be able to consider.

Q: What are the interest rates charged?
A: Currently, CNIMFG’s rates vary from 7.75% to 9.75% and are determined by a number of factors including, type of business (Start-Up or Existing), term of loan, credit score and other factors.

Q: How much are your fees?
A: CNIMFG currently does not charge a fee for applying for a loan. If your loan request is approved, CNIMFG will charge a one-time closing fee in addition to collateral filing fees. In order to reduce the amount of out-of-pocket expenses, these fees may be added to the principal of your loan.

Q: How long will I have to repay my loan?
A: CNIMFG offers loan terms from 6 to 72 months. The term of your loan will be determined by the use of the proceeds, your business operating cycle, credit score and other factors.

Q: Are there fees for paying off loans early?
A: CNIMFG does not charge prepayment penalties or other prepayment fees for prepaying a loan in part or in full prior to the maturity. In fact, we encourage early prepayment if your business is in a position to do so.

Q: Am I required to pledge collateral for the loan?
A: Collateral is a helpful contingency but it not always required.  Many of our credit builder loans have no collateral requirements, while others are reviewed on a case by case basis.   When collateral is needed to provide enhancements to your loan request, we allow for a great deal of flexibility.  Some examples of collateral can include a blanket lien against general business assets, vehicle titles, real estate , and other equipment, to name a few.

Q: Do I qualify for a loan if I have bad credit?
A: CNIMFG does not based its lending decisions on a credit score, however the amount that you are eligible for will be dependent upon your credit score. Credit is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Challenged credit score can be mitigated by other factors such as stronger ability to repay, higher collateral values, good liquidity, long term experience within industry.

Q: Will I need a co-signer?
A: After an initial review of your loan request, a CNIMFG loan officer will determine if a co-signer is necessary to enhance your loan request. Co-signers are often needed to strengthen the request by either providing additional income necessary to support the debt, mitigate weak credit and/or collateral and may be needed to provide additional business experience.

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Loan Types and Loan Uses

Q: What type of loans do you offer?
A: CNIMFG offers Credit Builder Loans ranging from $500 – $3,500 for business owners with troubled credit or lack of credit history, installment loans requiring equal monthly payments of interest and principal until paid off for start-up and established businesses and balloon loans with equal monthly interest payments followed by a final lump sum.

Q: What are some typical uses of loan proceeds?
A: The loan proceeds must be used for business purposes only. Some examples of business use includes but are not limited to: working capital, equipment purchases, inventory purchases, leasehold improvements and even for the purchase of an existing business.

Q: Can I purchase investment real estate with loan proceeds?
A: No. CNIMFG does not issue loans for the purposes of purchasing real estate for investment purposes.

Q: Can a loan from CNIMFG be used to consolidate other business debt?
A: We do not generally offer loans strictly for business debt consolidation, however, on a case-by case basis, we will allow up to 25% of the total loan proceeds to be used to pay off existing debt if the debt will improve the organization’s position and repayment ability. For further information regarding this, please contact one of our loan officers.

Q: I have a home-based business. Am I eligible to apply for a loan?
A: Absolutely! CNIMFG offers loans to a variety of business types including home based business, retail business with physical storefronts, professional services business, manufacturing businesses, online business. You do not need a physical location in order to be eligible for a loan with CNIMFG.

Q: Can my Non-Profit organization obtain a loan from CNIMFG?
A: No. We are not able to provide loans to Non-Profit and/or Not-For-Profit organizations.

Q: I have not formally incorporated my business. Am I eligible to apply for a loan?
A: Of course. Many of CNIMFG loans are loans to individuals (but are used for business purposes) or sole proprietors or d/b/a. We do also offer loans to organized business such as General and Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Corporations, Sub-Chapter S Corporations and C-Corporations.

Q: What types of businesses are eligible to apply for a loan?
A: As a community-based and mission driven organization, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives offers loans to many different types of businesses, most commonly are service and retail businesses, restaurants and food caters, sub-contractors for job specific projects, and transportation companies.

Q: What types of businesses are ineligible to apply for a loan?
A: Businesses that engage in weapons sales, non-profit organizations, real estate development, real estate investment, money lending or financing, multi-level marketing programs, illegal or polluting activities, or adult entertainment are among those that are not eligible for financing with CNIMFG.

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Other General Loan Questions

Q: Should I need more money than your program allows, can I apply for a loan with other micro-lenders as well as with CNIMFG?
A: While we commend you for being proactive with raising funds for your business, we are concerned about the amount of debt your business takes on. Our experienced lenders are happy to provide you with a preliminary review to help you with determining your ability to repay a higher amount. If your business’ financial needs and capacity to repay are greater than the maximum amounts offered by CNIMFG, we are happy to refer you to similar lenders that may be able to accommodate your request.
If you have already applied for financing through a similar micro-lender, we encourage you to continue through the process with that lender, unless other unusual circumstances exist. We do not encourage multiple requests at the same time. Each micro-lender will evaluate the total debt obligations and this amount will be reviewed when determining your ability to take on additional debt.

Q: Does my business need to be located within the City of Chicago?
A: No. With multiple funding sources, CNIMFG does not require that your business is located in the City of Chicago. We offer loans to the greater metropolitan Chicago area, including southern and western suburbs.

Q: Do I need a business plan to apply for a loan?
A: CNIMFG requires a business plan if your business has been operating for less than six (6) months. The business plan should include at minimum, a marketing strategy and cash flow projections for at least 12 months, detailed by month. The business plans does not have to be extensive in length, as long as the pertinent points of your new business are address. Feel free to contact one of our lenders for information on organizations that may assist with writing your business plan.

Q: I’m concerned about the big bank processes where loans are underwritten by someone who I have not met.
A: CNIMFG is not bank and does not operate as such. CNIMFG underwrites its loan internally. We strongly believe that your loan officer should know you best. Generally, the loan officer that first receives your request and interviews you for consideration of your loan will also be responsible for underwriting and presenting your request to our loan approval committee. This way, we are able to ensure that your story is presented in a manner that best highlights your strengths and the great work that you do for your community. We also believe that knowledge of your business market and the markets that you work with are key factors in understanding your business, therefore we have local loan officers and underwriters in house to service your needs.

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CNIMFG’s Application Process

Q: How may I apply for a loan with CNIMFG?
A: For your convenience, a copy of our loan package can be found by clicking on the following link –
Loan Application Checklist. There you may complete and upload your application. One of our loan officers will contact you upon receipt of your application and will follow up with you to speak with you further about your request.

Q: How long does the application process take?
A: CNIMFG’s loan process is approximately 7-10 business days upon receipt of a completed application.

Q: What if I’m not sure about applying and/or have additional questions
A: Our experienced loan officers are happy to speak with you and answer any questions that you have regarding CNIMFG’s application process. Please feel free to contact us – call us at (773) 341-2060, or email us at

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