Investing resources and capital to do more for Bay Area entrepreneurs, a letter from ICA’s CEO.

Dear Friends and Supporters,


As you know, I joined the ICA Fund Good Jobs team earlier this year. Since my first day, I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen, and even more excited for what’s to come. I am proud to be a part of this organization and happy to share my perspective on this year’s impact report and our work.

ICA has accomplished a lot: over two decades we’ve worked with over 600 companies. These companies have together created and retained over 5,500 jobs, and paid more than $105M in wages. Furthermore, the companies in our investment portfolio have raised over $30M in capital, while the 13 companies in the Good Jobs Accelerator raised $10 million in capital. Together, they paid out more than $17M in wages to Bay Area employees in 2018.

It has been three years since ICA officially became a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution). We remain the only CDFI explicitly designed to work with small businesses to create good jobs for those who need them most. The community development finance field has been very impactful in our history, but we still aren’t seeing the outcomes we need in terms of equity in access to capital across racial, gender, geographic, and industry lines. With an explicit focus of directing resources and capital to these communities, ICA is testing and measuring the outcomes this kind of work creates.

People of color, and especially women of color, have long started businesses at higher rates than their white counterparts. However, their capacity for growth is constrained by under-capitalization, and lack of access to high-caliber advisor and investor networks. ICA’s businesses are members of underestimated communities seeking to raise between $50,000 and $2 million. Most have outgrown micro-lenders and don’t qualify for private sector incubators nor for bank financing or other forms of investment, finding themselves trapped in our ecosystem’s “missing middle.” ICA works with these entrepreneurs throughout the 9 county San Francisco Bay Area, partnering with them to access resources, networks and capital to realize their full growth potential.


Creating the conditions under which good jobs are provided by employers is a pivotal anchor in community stability and wealth creation for individuals and their families. ICA has been a pioneer in identifying and articulating the conditions for small businesses to create good jobs. The organization’s work has continued to evolve and adapt to the changing world around us and we continue to respond to the needs of the communities we serve. This takes iteration and innovation.

And as we build on our model, we are committed to continuing to work along three critical trajectories:

  1. Investing resources – The Good Jobs Accelerator is designed to help small businesses poised for growth prepare for capital and build strong teams. The Accelerator is the central key to this vision and it is our most intensive tailored offering for entrepreneurs. More broadly, the Accelerator offers support and resources to small businesses that is trusted & tailored specifically to their businesses’ needs.

  2. Bridging the missing middle through direct investment – Debt is an important factor in helping businesses grow, but what’s missing is a more flexible source of capital that can be customer centric, tailored to the needs of the small business customer, and accessible to entrepreneurs with backgrounds that vary from what the traditional finance field has historically defined as low risk. We’re here to ask the questions: what happens if we assess risk from a different perspective? How do we redefine the way capital is exchanged? How do we write a new framework for how it’s deployed? Can we move more money, faster? We may not have all of the answers, yet, but we’ve already proven that making bets on our mission returns value: the companies in our portfolio have more than doubled their revenues from an average revenue of $1.6M at investment to $4.1M currently. Furthermore, thanks in part to the power of our network, each dollar invested by ICA has leveraged more than $10 additional dollars from investors.

  3. Leading the way to better measure job quality – ICA has long worked to quantify the value of investing in people. More than just creating a measure of job quality, we are looking to take a holistic measure of the social capital invested in, and created by, businesses. As much of the philanthropic community focuses on the Future of Work, we believe the future involves a continued investment in people, and that future innovation and technology can be directed to generate opportunities for good job creation and wealth building for those who need them most. With the right types of expertise, partnerships, data, and a commitment to challenging systemic inequity, we can bring the communities we serve to the forefront of a changing economy.

Innovating through equity investments

In 2018 the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City reported that only 14% of its fastest-growing Inner City 100 companies have raised equity, and only 5% have raised equity from institutional investors, signaling a disconnect between the needs of many businesses and sources of equity. This reality, combined with our experience with growing small business, supports our belief that equity investments fill a significant gap in the small business funding ecosystem, and can better support the sustained growth of the businesses we serve.

ICA is committed to building a movement in creating parity in access to capital for ALL. This means our work has an explicit focus on groups that have historically been left out of the fair exchange of capital. To achieve this vision, we will be doing more to build partnerships with peers, lenders, and other organizations in the CDFI and broader small business finance ecosystems. By working together, we see an opportunity to lead the way in providing more equitable distributions of tailored capital to high-potential businesses. Together, we can make money move faster. And more fairly.

Our mission is possible because of our strong vision for change in the Bay Area economy. We believe economic growth should benefit all. This means acknowledging historical systems and present-day inequity, and working tirelessly to disrupt and demonstrate what solutions look like. Our work, and our ability to innovate, are needed now more than ever.


Allison Kelly

Business Insights from Caron Gugssa-Howard


All year long, as the first 2019 cohort moved through the Good Jobs Accelerator, Accelerator Manager, Caron Gugssa-Howard would share weekly “nuggets” with the entrepreneurs. Caron shared digestible advice on pitching, creating decks, and meeting preparation, as well as practical strategies for growth.

Now, you’re getting a sneak peek as we share some of these small, bite-sized snippets of wisdom, motivation, and business insights from the desk of Caron Gussa-Howard below.

And if you are an entrepreneur with a growing business and would like to get your own weekly nuggets (and so much more!) consider applying to the Good Jobs Accelerator. We are currently looking for the next great companies to join the next cohort.

#1 Successful Pitching

Check out a few key “nuggets” for successful pitching I learned while at Alice's Circular Summit last week, from Lisa Wang of SheWorx.

  • Energy

    • Be energetic; capital providers can't get excited about your business if you're not!

  • A pitch is essentially an audition for leadership

    • Investors invest in leaders, way makers, and change makers

  • Avoid over explaining

    • Less is more when pitching; let them ask the questions-just be prepared to respond...with accuracy!

  • Make the A$K!!!!

    • A prepared to speak to your capital raise and how it will be used

#2 Pitching Like a Boss

  • Still getting stumbled over your pitch deck slides?

    • Try storyboarding your deck with post-its

  • Write down one main point you want to convey to the audience from each slide

    • It helps to get clear on the story you're telling from beginning to end!

  • Speak with conviction and confidence.

    • You want people (read “capital providers”) to know that you truly believe in your product/service

    • You also want them to know that YOU and YOUR TEAM are the best in the business to take your company and their investment to the next level

  • Be Energetic!

    • No on wants to hear from, nor invest in, a company where the leader(s) are not not energized by its work, progress to date, and what's to look forward to in the future

  • Be Memorable!

    • Make sure attendees walk away with a lasting impression

  • Slow Down & Take a Breath!

    • We know that 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes is never enough to convey your journey and hard work, but be sure to take your time and speak clearly

#3 Preparing for all those investor meetings

In preparation for meetings with investors and capital providers, our longtime Capital Strategy advisor, Jonathan Mi, shared some especially useful nuggets on what every business person should have before entering a meeting with an investor. Jonathan recommends having a Dropbox folder link or flash drive at the ready to send to interested investors.

So, without much further ado, In prep for any meeting, you should have the following:

  • Clean Profit & Loss (3 years of historical financials (income statement, balance sheet, cash flows)

  • Projections (3-5 years)

  • Team Bio's (management level)

  • Business Plan / Presentation Deck

  • Cap Table

  • PR (awards, recognition, media and any other ammo to help tell your story)

Does your business have:

  • an established business model that supports good job creation?

  • the capacity and commitment to fully participate?

  • demonstrated product/market fit and traction?

  • a scalable business model with tangible expansion opportunities?

Do you want more nuggets? Apply to the Good Jobs Accelerator! Read more here.

ICA listens, learns, builds regional partnership across the Bay Area.

Director of Regional Strategy & Partnerships, Ingrid Jacobson, presents to ICA partners from San Jose at the Hub in Oakland.

Director of Regional Strategy & Partnerships, Ingrid Jacobson, presents to ICA partners from San Jose at the Hub in Oakland.

Allison Kelly, ICA Fund Good Jobs CEO listens as part of the San Jose partner visit to ICA.

Allison Kelly, ICA Fund Good Jobs CEO listens as part of the San Jose partner visit to ICA.

ICA has always strived to be a learning organization. We’ve long believe that the entrepreneurs and the communities we serve have much to teach us and that only through collaboration can we successfully tackle the Bay Area’s most pressing issues. Over 23 years, we’ve continued to adapt our focus to the rapidly changing needs of all nine Bay Area counties. and we’ve have developed a regional approach that champions understanding, cooperation, and partnership. After all, we’ve believed, the problems the Bay Area faces are regional, so our solutions must be as well.

Director of Acceleration, Dianna Tremblay, speaks to ICA partners from San Jose, at the HIVE in Oakland.

Director of Acceleration, Dianna Tremblay, speaks to ICA partners from San Jose, at the HIVE in Oakland.

That’s why we were so happy to be welcome our partners from the South Bay to Oakland. On June 12th, we hosted a site visit and strategic planning session with our San Jose-based small business assistance partners. Close to 15 leaders and representatives from the organizations and government agencies we’re working with – including from Somos Mayfair, the City of San Jose’s Office of Economic Development, Alum Rock Santa Clara Street Business Association, Veggielution, and Resources for Community Development – joined us in Oakland at our Impact HUB Oakland headquarters.

The San Jose delegation was greeted by Director of Regional Strategy & Partnerships, Ingrid Jacobson, and our newly-named CEO, Allison Kelly. Ingrid, Allison, and the team provided a brief overview of the organization’s history, our current service model, and our work to not only scale the Good Jobs Accelerator but meet the growing needs of our region.

Visitors to ICA Fund Good Jobs get a tour of ICA companies, at the HIVE in Oakland.

Visitors to ICA Fund Good Jobs get a tour of ICA companies, at the HIVE in Oakland.

The San Jose partners were given a tour of the Hive – the site of ICA’s offices and home to three Portfolio companies: Firebrand Artisan Breads, Red Bay Coffee, and The Impact HUB Oakland. There, the delegation met with ICA entrepreneurs, got a personalized look at our work, and compared notes, not to mention sampled some delicious coffee and baked goods. After the tour, Camille Llanes-Fontanilla, Executive Director of Somos Mayfair, led the attendees in a strategic session, honing in on the bright spots and challenges faced by San Jose’s small business community.

Before departing for the South Bay, attendees set goals for a continued partnership and future initiatives with an eye to taking this expanding this unique inter-city opportunity.

We are extremely excited to not only build on the momentum of the San Jose delegation’s visit, but also to continue to work together and address the gaps in the ecosystem. And we are also looking forward to continued learning and collaboration with our San Jose peers.

You're invited: the 2019 Summer Series


Announcing the 2019 Summer Series

Join us all summer long to get hands-on, actionable tools for growing your business.

All summer long you can join us for our 2019 Summer Series. What is the Summer Series? It’s a month-long series of workshops designed to help Bay Area small business owners practical advice and hands-on support in key aspects of growing your business.

The sessions are hosted by the ICA Fund Good Jobs team in conjunction with expert special guests, Ryan Voeltz, Joshua Singh, and Stephanie Louie.

The first session – Best Practices for Starting Facebook Ads – has already occurred but there are three more workshops to take all month long. Best of all they are free! Sign up below.

The 2019 Summer Series sessions:


7/12: Sales Pipeline Management: Join the ICA Fund Good Jobs with entrepreneur and founder Ryan Voeltz as we discuss Sales Pipeline Management!

This workshop is perfect for entrepreneurs or sales managers wanting to learn how to cultivate and effectively manage sales pipelines and relationships to help grow your business.


7/19: Understanding Business Contracts: On July 19th, Start Small Think Big's Joshua Singh joins us to talk contracts. Join us and learn about tendering contracts, commonly-included language, and obligations of each party as it relates to business and business transactions.

Designed for entrepreneurs wanting to learn how to better navigate the world of contracts and agreements, this workshop is perfect for small business owners who want to be expert contract-writers. We'll touch on topics like negotiation techniques, non-compete and non-disclosure clauses, and contract enforcement.


7/26: Mastering Market Research: for the last session of our Summer Series, you’re invited to join us and Stephanie Louie to talk Market Research. This informative and engaging session to walk through real-world examples of how to conduct consumer research prior to launching new products or services.

This session will help entrepreneurs understand the keys to market research that will save money and deliver results. Learn practical and actionable tips and tools to better understand who your customers are, and get invaluable insights into what you need to do before formulating and refining products and/or services.

Bonus session: ICA Fund Good Jobs is now building the next cohort of dynamic Good Jobs Accelerator companies. Are you a founder who wants to accelerate your growth?

Want to learn more about the Good Jobs Accelerator? Are you interested in being our next Accelerator company? If so, join our virtual info session to learn how our Accelerator can help propel your growth.

Lastly, if you’ve got questions, email us. We hope to see you soon!

Announcing our new CEO, Allison Kelly.


We are pleased to announce our new Chief Executive Officer, Allison Kelly. Allison brings deep expertise in small business advising, lending, and economic development to the organization. She is passionately committed to equality and community empowerment. As CEO, Allison will be responsible for leading the growth and impact of the organization in order to meet the needs of the region’s small business community.

Kelly was selected by the ICA Fund Good Jobs Board of Directors after a nationwide search. With more than a decade of experience in community development finance and small business support and lending, Kelly has special expertise in developing innovative strategies and forging creative partnerships. The proven leader and community builder assumes the role today. 

I’m really excited about the flexibility and innovation of the ICA model, and the ability to test disruptive strategies.
— Allison Kelly

“The community development finance field has been really impactful in our history, but we still aren’t seeing the outcomes we need in terms of parity in access to capital. ICA is uniquely positioned as an accelerator and investment vehicle, and my vision is to prove out a model that is disruptive, has the true outcomes our community needs, and can be replicated by others across the country.”

Kelly will be assuming the role from outgoing CEO Sean Daniel Murphy, who has been a leader of the organization for 12 years and will be joining the Board of Directors as part of this transition. She looks forward to building off of ICA Fund Good Jobs’ 23-year legacy.

“Thank you to our board co-chair, Jack Russi and the board search committee for leading the hiring process with Korn Ferry. We look forward to Allison’s leadership as ICA continues working for economic freedom for those who need it most," Murphy said. 

On behalf of our entrepreneurs, community stakeholders, and funders, I am excited to welcome Allison to the ICA community, where she will lead a fiercely-committed team comprised of talented, values-driven individuals.

— Sean Daniel Murphy

We are extremely excited to welcome Allison Kelly as CEO to ICA Fund Good Jobs, and know that she will bring great leadership, talents, and passion to the work of this organization,” said Jack Russi, Co-Chair of the ICA Fund Good Jobs Board of Directors.

“We are also grateful to Sean Murphy, who has done a tremendous job of positioning ICA Fund Good Jobs for the future. We are pleased that we will still be able to benefit from Sean’s considerable skills and experience as a Board member.”

Most recently, Allison Kelly worked as the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at CDC Small Business Finance (CDC), a leading U.S lender focused on supporting entrepreneurs. At CDC, she worked to forge creative partnerships and foster innovation in community development finance. Her successes at CDC include partnering with Prudential to create a $15M impact investment fund for small businesses, collaborating with the Oakland-based startup CNote to develop a community investment financial product, and organizing a first-of-its-kind Community Finance Challenge to spur innovation in the CDFI sector.

Prior to CDC, Kelly spent seven years in various leadership positions at Pacific Community Ventures, a nonprofit social enterprise focused on helping small businesses thrive through affordable capital and free business coaching. She increased company participation in the business advising program fivefold, to 250, and she started strategic partnerships with 30 community-based groups that help small businesses in the Bay Area and across the nation.

Allison started her professional career in the healthcare service industry and has worked on international campaigns to promote changes in public health behavior. Her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mauritania, shaped her passion for using small business as a force for social change.

Small business is an engine for people to fulfill their own potential. Small businesses bring true empowerment, which is the economic freedom to make choices.
— Allison Kelly

Allison Kelly lives in Oakland with her husband Todd, and their son Evan (9) and daughter Piper (6). The outdoor enthusiast enjoys backpacking in the wilderness and doing anything active. She serves on the Board of Donor Digital and is an active member of the national Opportunity Finance Network. Kelly holds a BA with honors from the University of Oregon and an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management.

ICA Fund Good Jobs hosts Pitch Event!

Dianna Tremblay and Caron Gugssa-Howard of ICA Fund Good Jobs with the 2019 Pitch Event participants.

Dianna Tremblay and Caron Gugssa-Howard of ICA Fund Good Jobs with the 2019 Pitch Event participants.

On May 23rd, at the Kapor Center’s Lotus Theater in Oakland, ICA Fund Good Jobs hosted its first-ever pitch event. Over the course of an exciting evening, six companies, including all four current Accelerator companies, pitched to a packed audience of investors, community members, funders, and fellow entrepreneurs. 

The Pitch Event was an exciting opportunity for Accelerator and Alumni companies to showcase their stories and business models, as well as explain how they plan to scale their vision and strategy.

As a celebratory conclusion to the 2019 Accelerator cohort, the current Accelerator companies – Yoconut Dairy Free, Progeny Coffee, Beija Flor Naturals, and Courtsmith Basketball Industries, joined Accelerator alumni company Bread SRSLY and investment portfolio company Firebrand Artisan Breads on the pitch stage at the Kapor Center. Collectively, the six businesses are raising almost $16m in growth capital, ranging from $150k to $10.5m in debt and equity.

Pitch event judges Justina Lai of Wetherby Asset Management and an ICA Fund Good Jobs Board of Directors, Kirby Harris of Base Ventures, and outgoing ICA Fund Good Jobs CEO, Sean Daniel Murphy, provided actionable tactical and strategic feedback to all the pitchers. 

Thank you to everyone who attended. 

The power of our work starts with with you – our business support ecosystem. If you didn’t get a chance to connect with the companies, please let us know how we can help you get acquainted.  You can also download a PDF of the program, which features all of the company raises here.

Find photos from the event here:

The pitch event was a true celebration of our companies’ accomplishments to date. But we’re always looking ahead. And so the Good Jobs Accelerator is now building its next cohort of high-growth, high-potential companies. If you know of businesses that would be a fit for the Accelerator, or are an entrepreneur who would like to apply, you can do that (and learn more about the program) here.

The 2019 Pitch Event was made possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and community partners – eBay, JP Morgan Chase, Donahue Fitzgerald, and J.P. King Advisors.


A special thank you to our gracious hosts, the Kapor Center, our caterers (and Good Jobs Accelerator alumni) RedDoor Catering, and videographers, 510 Media