The BlueFund Launch

Chicago tech hub Blue1647 wants to give entrepreneurs more ways to raise capital for their business with a new crowdfunding platform.

Blue1647 recently announced the launch of BLUEFund, a crowdfunding site similar to Kickstarter and Indiegogo that wants to “empower the community” by focusing on entrepreneurs in underserved neighborhoods. Companies can create a campaign, set a funding goal, and collect funds if the goal is met.

The idea is to give entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds and underserved communities–who often lack access to traditional startup funding like venture capital and “friends and family” rounds–the ability to raise money to get their projects off the ground, Blue1647 says. It also gives people in the ability to contribute to small businesses in their community.

“In order to have sustainable economic impact it is imperative to connect entrepreneurs with the community and vice versa,” said Tracy G. Powell, CEO and founder of BIG Web Inc. Powell is spearheading the launch of BLUEFund along with Blue1647 founder Emile Cambry.

BLUEFund helped successfully raise over $15,000 to launch the Liberty Project, a project to turn “protest into progress through film, training and policy advocacy.” Active campaigns include Goffers, an on-demand delivery startup that employs local youth to provide delivery services in their community; Tawia Designs, a Ghanaian-American shoe brand that creates custom footwear handcrafted by artists in Kenya, Ghana and Morocco; and Hitpartner.net, a platform that connects tennis pros and high-level college players with junior level players who want to hit with high level players.

Blue1647, which launched its co-working space and workforce development center in 2013, takes a 5% transaction fee from each successful campaign. The company recently moved its headquarters to a 250,000 square foot space inside Pilsen’s Lacuna Artist Lofts