The Duman Entrepreneurship Center is funded by an endowment made possible by Louis Duman, a philanthropist and businessman from Highland Park, Illinois. The Duman Center was created in 2001 to support small business owners with training, education, and mentoring and offers entrepreneurship loans of up to $15,000.
Lou Duman loved seeing “that look” on the face of a small business owner—that special mix of pride, humility, wisdom and honor that finds a home amidst the smile, brow and wrinkles of an entrepreneur. JVS Chicago entrepreneurs share that look. Lou knew that look because he had it himself.
“Lou was a raging success,” says Susan, his wife of 23 years. A Detroit native who grew up in Chicago, Lou owned a lighting equipment company and raised a family, “but he never forgot the impact of the depression on his family, and how it was a charitable gift of $300 that helped his father’s clock shop stay in business.”
Lou’s love for helping those who needed his support propelled him from building his business to engaging in philanthropy. His desire to help small business owners succeed was the catalyst for him to provide an endowment for the JVS Chicago Duman Entrepreneurship Center. The Center was created to help everybody’s business, particularly, says Susan, “people who couldn’t get money from the bank, because of their credit.” Lou Duman’s generosity has enabled hundreds of small business owners to acquire business management skills and, through access to Center loans, to nurture, sustain or grow their small businesses.
By helping launch so many small businesses—everything from a bike shop to a jewelry designer, to an ethnic food counter and an orthodox videographer—The Duman Center has realized the dreams of many new entrepreneurs.
“Having a business is the best thing in the world because you are dependent on you,” Susan says, with a certain look. A look that Lou would surely recognize.