Accelerator Company Reem's featured in The New York Times

Photos by Luke Beard, New York Times.

Photos by Luke Beard, New York Times.

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It's been a busy year for Reem Assil, founder and owner of Reem's California, an Arab bakery at Fruitvale Station in Oakland. Reem, who joined the inaugural Good Jobs Accelerator in 2016, has watched her business grow, successfully opened her first brick and mortar location, and has doubled her team over the last year.  

Now her delicious Arab-style foods have been featured in the New York Times. In an article and article that's equal parts food review and travel piece, the Times' Rebecca Flint Marx heaps praise on Reem's Arab-Californian menu. Check it out at the link below and then visit Reem and her crew in person in the Fruitivale! 

Read the article in the New York Times here. 

ICA Fund Good Jobs builds partnership with BAYEP, connects small businesses to job-seekers

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If you’re a job seeker and have ever visited a job fair you may know that these events, aimed at exposing individuals to hundreds of jobs over a short period of time, can be a little… lackluster. Often dominated by big corporations, job fairs can be a bit like a cattle call and, to say the least, not always the best use of time. 

Well, prepare to have your expectations altered by the Bay Area Youth Entrepreneurship Program (BAYEP)!

BAYEP, who’s mission is to help young men of color build career pathways through job-readiness training programs, connects the Bay Area’s young people with with high-caliber companies that are poised to hire. They did just that the other week when they hosted their Career Pathway Summit at the Oakland Marriott City Center. 

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BAYEP’s Summit, in its second annual iteration, was unlike any other job fair. It was a highly produced event infused with “zones” that aided participants in honing the art of an interview and, eventually, landing a job. This job fair boasted resume workshops, computers and wifi for research, a tie & suit bar, motivational speakers, a DJ and celebrities all geared towards making the experience for youth informative and interactive as well as enjoyable and productive.

While rumor has it Marshawn Lynch stopped by, and MC Hammer also made an appearance, one thing for sure is that ICA Fund Good Jobs was on site to provide the small business contingent. 

A true win-win for both the entrepreneurs and job-seekers, after several hours of bak-to-back interviews, the job fair yielded 550 total interviews, and 278 conditional offers and invitations for second interviews. ICA Fund Good Jobs companies committed to 11 second interviews and conditional offers, based on 34 interviews.
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Upon arrival our team was joined by four of our companies – Reem’s California, Mr. Sparkle Window Washers, Impact HUB Oakland, and PiikUp – and quickly staked out a self-proclaimed “Small Business Zone” (right next to the Oakland A’s booth). These four companies complemented the 16 large enterprises that were hiring on the spot or conditionally at the Summit. 

Working with BAYEP was a great opportunity: we wanted to raise awareness around the small business ecosystem that thrives in Oakland, and which we know so well, and, at the same time, build a real bridge between job seekers and the good jobs that our small businesses provide. 

While our always-busy entrepreneurs were knee-deep in work, they recognized the real value that working with BAYEP brought. A true win-win for both the entrepreneurs and job-seekers, after several hours of bak-to-back interviews, the job fair yielded 550 total interviews, and 278 conditional offers and invitations for second interviews. ICA Fund Good Jobs companies committed to 11 second interviews and conditional offers, based on 34 interviews.

Representing a new partnership for our organization the BAYEP Summit was a huge success in our eyes and for our companies. By building on this new relationship we can more directly connect good jobs to those who need them most, a mission-result we can truly get behind.

Michelle Scott is Education Manager at ICA Fund Good Jobs. 

Spotlight: Girls featured in Next City

Lynn Johnson and Allison Kenny of Spotlight: Girls. 

Lynn Johnson and Allison Kenny of Spotlight: Girls. 

Good Jobs Accelerator company Spotlight:Girls was just featured in an article in the online daily Next City. In the piece (available here), reporter Oscar Perry Abello interviews founders Lynn Johnson and Allison Kenny about their growing business.

The pair talk about their values, about the their company's recent growth – which they've built to revenues of over $400K, and how they plan to scale their mission by taking their summer camps, and in-school and after-school programs nationwide within the next two years. 

In the piece, Allison and Lynn talk about raising capital in the Bay Area and the benefits (and difficulties) that competing in such a dynamic marketplace brings. The pair also elaborate on the types of funding they've secured, explain the differences in capital types, and talk about crowdfunding their business. 

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It's a great read and a inside look at an exciting business that we've gotten to know very well as Spotlight:Girls progressed through our Good Jobs Accelerator.

You can read the whole story on the Next City website. 

ICA Fund Good Jobs receives SECA grant from CDFI Fund

An ICA Fund Good Jobs team contingent joined the CDFIs Invest, the OFN CDFI conference in Washington, DC, thanks to the support of the Surdna Foundation

An ICA Fund Good Jobs team contingent joined the CDFIs Invest, the OFN CDFI conference in Washington, DC, thanks to the support of the Surdna Foundation

ICA Fund Good Jobs has been awarded a $250,000 award from the US Treasury Department as a part of its fiscal year (FY) 2017 round of the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Program.

This award is a part of the CDFI Fund’s program for Small and Emerging CDFIs (SECA). As such, the funding will be used to invest in our capacity and build our financial sustainability, so that we can increase our ability to invest in Bay Area entrepreneurs who are creating good jobs and building wealth for Bay Area families.

We look forward to leveraging this opportunity to address the gap of growth capital available to small businesses in the range of $300,000 to $1 million,” said Sean Daniel Murphy, CEO. "Our goal as a CDFI is to build our tool kit to convene and curate capital for our high growth small businesses.”

ICA Fund Good Jobs is the only service-led CDFI in the country specifically dedicated to the creation of good jobs. We address risk differently than traditional capital providers because our entrepreneurship education offerings and advisory-based Good Jobs Accelerator serve as an extended due diligence process for our loan and investment activities.

We are also committed to unlocking access to the full capital need of our good-job-creating small businesses through our collaborative underwriting process with other CDFIs, investors, and capital providers.

Click here to browse the CDFI Program Award Book and meet the other award recipients. 

Click here to browse the CDFI Program Award Book and meet the other award recipients. 

In its announcement last week, the CDFI Fund awarded 303 CDFIs a total of $208.7 million in awards. The awards will enable CDFIs to increase lending and investment activity in low-income and economically distressed communities across the nation.

“These award recipients represent a diverse array of organization types and community investment strategies, serving a broad spectrum of communities,” said CDFI Fund Director Annie Donovan, adding that the pool of awardees is the largest in the CDFI Fund’s history.

Read the CDFI Press Release here, on the CDFI website, and review all the other awardees. 

ICA Fund Good Jobs makes Good Jobs inroads at OFN Conference

Members of the ICA Fund Good Jobs team with Congresswoman Barbara Lee in Washington, DC. 

Members of the ICA Fund Good Jobs team with Congresswoman Barbara Lee in Washington, DC. 

A contingent of the ICA Fund Good Jobs team joined the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) community at the CDFIs Invest conference in Washington DC this week. The conference, in its 32nd annual iteration, is the preeminent event for the CDFI industry, a wide-ranging network which spans the gamut of mission-driven lending organizations from around the country. 

The team, was able to attend the conference thanks to a generous grant from The Surdna Foundation.

Nina, Kot, Yui, and Rasheed, led by Sean, explored new partnership opportunities in the industry, explored new ways of approaching the mission, and focused on establishing new funding relationship with an eye to long-term organizational sustainability. 

from left to right: Yui Ueno, Kot Hordynski, Sean Daniel Murphy, Nina Robinson, and Rasheed Mitchell at CDFIs Invest in Washington, DC.

from left to right: Yui Ueno, Kot Hordynski, Sean Daniel Murphy, Nina Robinson, and Rasheed Mitchell at CDFIs Invest in Washington, DC.

The team also made a close connection with Growth Opportunity Partners, a Cleveland-based CDFI lender dedicated to working with dynamic job-creating small businesses – a mission not unlike our own, except in North-Eastern Ohio. The two organizations spent much time together networking, sharing experiences, learning from each other's work, and not discussing recent NBA history

Last but not least, we met with Oakland's Congresswoman, the Honorable Barbara Lee. Representative Lee and her team welcomed the ICA Fund Good Jobs contingent in the chambers and posed for a quick photo after a busy day in Congress. 

After two and a half jam-packed days, the conference wrapped up on Thursday afternoon. 

Three Key Learnings from Blue Bottle Coffee

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Last Thursday, my phone blew up with the news that Nestlé had secured a controlling stake in one of our legacy advisory companies, Blue Bottle Coffee, for $500 million. Dozens of our supporters reached out to offer their congratulations to ICA Fund Good Jobs, and ask what this news meant for us. I’ve taken some time to learn more about this deal and reflect on what it means for our mission to support small businesses, and create good jobs and wealth in our local economy.

More than ten years ago, as volunteer with Inner City Advisors, I sat down for an advising session with Blue Bottle founder James Freeman and advisor Jim Harris, who is now the co-chair of our board and the CEO of OluKai premium footwear. I learned alongside Freeman about the power of advising, as Harris taught him about “blocking and tackling” in business, the power of cash forecasting, anticipating business challenges, and most importantly, the importance of taking care of your employees. 

Soon thereafter, Freeman secured a small warehouse in Emeryville, and in a subsequent advising session we gathered a collection of receipts to build an income statement. I remember advising the company through some early milestones, like assisting with permit acquisition when the company was about to open their Oakland Headquarters on Webster Street. And we are proud that we helped Blue Bottle pick the right growth equity partner to lead the company’s first round of growth capital.

The Blue Bottle Roastery on Webster Street in Oakland. 

The Blue Bottle Roastery on Webster Street in Oakland. 

As I reflect on our history with Blue Bottle, what resonates with me is the dynamic potential of supporting a creative entrepreneur with real time, practical business acumen. Our entrepreneurs come to us with business insights and challenges, and we support them by meeting them where they are at. They don’t necessarily have lofty visions of $700M+ valuations, but we should never underestimate what is possible. 

Blue Bottle Coffee at our 2014 ICA LIVE event.

Blue Bottle Coffee at our 2014 ICA LIVE event.

In the spirit of sharing lessons from our work to inform how we can all do more for our mission, I believe there are three key takeaways from the success of Blue Bottle Coffee Company:

  1. Never underestimate the potential of Oakland based small businesses. Think bigger.
    The possibilities for the high growth, high potential businesses we work with are truly endless, and we can all think bigger. 
     
  2. The high growth small businesses we serve are not speculative. They’re proven. Too often we must explain why Oakland small businesses deserve investments of human and financial capital. Blue Bottle’s success (along with others like Revolution Foods and Back to the Roots) shows that the questions isn’t why; it’s why not? 
     
  3. Capital is a key ingredient to our mission profit. We can do more.
    As an organization, we need to directly invest and participate in the financial success of the businesses we advise. Our financial returns can be recycled into our programs and investment fund, and paid forward to the next high growth businesses we serve. 

One thing is abundantly clear: we work with great businesses. Blue Bottle’s success is proof that Oakland entrepreneurs are bankable and creating good jobs in the Bay Area and beyond. I offer my heartfelt congratulations to James Freeman and his team, those building the company today as well as legacy employees like Katie Booser who helped fuel the company’s early growth. We look forward to working with Blue Bottle to support the next 100 small businesses in the Oakland Bay Area that are poised for exponential growth. 

And to our region’s entrepreneurs, we are here to meet you wherever you are at. You can access the same practical advice and support that James Freeman received during Blue Bottle’s early years by participating in our Growth Strategies course or Good Jobs Accelerator. Whether you need help securing capital, navigating permits, or drafting an income statement, we are here to serve entrepreneurs in support of our mission: creating good jobs and building equitable communities.