Urban Roots

Offering job opportunities and changing lives for returning citizens struggling with employment after incarceration.

Workforce development for returning citizens

100% African-American owned and operated

Serving a community with economic challenges

The Challenge

Chicago’s Jimmie Williams and his wife Tiffany, started Urban Roots Inc. in 2008 because he had a hard time finding a job, due to his criminal past. Urban Roots Inc. provides landscaping, snow removal, and janitorial services to residential, commercial and industrial properties throughout the Chicagoland region. The company offers job opportunities for returning citizens who may have difficulty finding other employment, filling a critical need in the community.

The business had grown slowly and steadily during the past 10 years, increasing revenue each year but struggling in years with little snowfall. This had made it difficult for the company to acquire working capital and the additional equipment necessary to take on larger projects.

The Solution

Urban Roots Inc. had been working with a community partner – Accion Chicago – for the previous three years but turned to CRF when the company sought a loan amount that exceeded Accion’s lending limit. Given the company’s positive community impact and location in a low-income community, CRF worked with Accion to get Urban Roots Inc. the capital needed to expand its services, bid on larger projects, purchase equipment and create more jobs. CRF was able to provide a $140,000 Patient Capital small business loan, which Accion Chicago supplemented with $7,500 in subordinate financing.

The Outcome

This has allowed the company to invest in new branding and marketing initiatives, including a new website, and expand its janitorial services offering for additional revenue growth. Urban Roots Inc. plans to hire four new employees in the coming months to support the company’s growth and expansion strategy. In the two years since receiving the loan, Urban Roots’ revenue has increased by 328%.