JUDY WICKS’ NOT-SHARK TANK | Philadelphia citizen
“The legendary Philly restaurateur and activist has corralled her baby boomer friends to help new entrepreneurs get ahead. It’s her way of creating the city she wants to live in… In 2015, she launched The Circle of Aunts and Uncles, recruiting about 35 of her friends to give loans, contacts and advice to young entrepreneurs in Philly who don’t have access to the resources they need to grow their businesses.
To date, the group has given out more than $100,000 to 12 different local businesses, most owned by women and/or people of color, a group in particular with less access to financial and social capital resources.”
THE CIRCLE OF AUNTS AND UNCLES|The Field guide to a regenerative economy
The Circle of Aunts and Uncles is a group of 35 friends in the Greater Philadelphia area who have come together to invest in relationship- and place-building by providing low-interest loans and a network of social capital to worthy, under-resourced entrepreneurs in their city. As the Circle’s founder Judy Wicks, former owner of Philadelphia’s legendary White Dog Café and author of Good Morning, Beautiful Business, explains, the Circle’s goal is to co-create, the “diverse, inclusive, and joyful community that we all want to live in.”
It is Judy's fervent hope that the Philadelphia Circle will catalyze a nationwide, and perhaps one day a global, network of local independent groups of Aunts and Uncles supporting Nephews and Nieces, all committed to building vibrant local economies.
The Circle of Aunts & Uncles - Loans to Drive Local Community Wealth|IMPACTPHL
“Led by Wicks and co-chair Kate Houstoun, the Circle of Aunts and Uncles seeks to build local self-reliance by supporting businesses that produce basic needs – like food and clothing. Priority is given to entrepreneurs who demonstrate financial need, are from a historically marginalized population, aspire to implement eco-friendly business practices, and plan to maintain local independent ownership.
Often, potential borrowers are recruited by the Circle’s partner organization, The Enterprise Center, which plays a key role in the project. The CDFI nonprofit manages funds (disbursing loans and receiving monthly payments), provides a staff member who recruits entrepreneurs, sets up interviews for prospective borrowers with the Aunts and Uncles, helps provide social capital to the borrowers and keeps the group informed about the state of finances.”