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. 

Sean Murphy Selected as Aspen Institute Fellow

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I am proud to announce that I have been selected as a Job Quality Fellow by the Aspen Institute. I deeply appreciate the Aspen Institute's intention and focus on the topic of good jobs. 

Good Jobs have been at the core of our organization for over 20 years, and I have had the great privilege of leading our efforts to invest in and support high-potential, good job-creating businesses. We have funded these businesses not only to create good jobs, but also to improve the health, wealth, and happiness of their employees and their families. 

I’m extremely grateful to the Aspen Institute for bringing the good jobs conversation to a national platform. 

However, I also recognize that simply discussing job quality is not enough. Today, we must address the growing pace of disparity across our nation head on. It's not just about being able to pay the bills or visit the doctor. It's about having the economic freedom to make choices, take risks, and pursue a rewarding life for you and your family.

However, I also recognize that simply discussing job quality is not enough. 

And so my hope for the Quality Jobs Fellowship at the Aspen Institute is that we keep an eye on the freedom that good jobs can lead to. I hope my fellows and I will commit to sharing real-time insights and solutions, listen to the needs of the various constituents we serve, and mobilize together to truly lift up our communities.   

Personally, I’m not interested in thought leadership. I'm interested in bridging gaps and getting smarter to meet the needs of small businesses so they can benefit our communities. I have the honor of pursuing my work in Oakland, a Town built on a history of relentlessly addressing society’s toughest problems.

Oakland is our innovation lab, and our hard-earned lessons can be a platform upon which we can build a national movement. 

In the words of Marshawn Lynch, I look forward to bringing a perspective that is all “about that action” to this fellowship. 

{{ To read more about the Job Quality Fellowship and to meet all of the fellows, click here. }}


Gratefully,

– Sean Daniel Murphy

– Sean Daniel Murphy

Reign Free of the Red Door Catering featured in the San Francisco Chronicle

Reign Free, Founder and CEO of the Red Door Catering. Photos by Mason Trinica, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Reign Free, Founder and CEO of the Red Door CateringPhotos by Mason Trinica, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

I want to be a business owner, I don’t just want to create a job for myself
— Reign Free
Workers at the Red Door Catering headquarters in West Oakland. Photos by Mason Trinica, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Workers at the Red Door Catering headquarters in West Oakland. Photos by Mason Trinica, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Reign Free, founder and CEO of the The Red Door, a catering company in the Good Jobs Accelerator based in West Oakland was recently featured in an expansive piece in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In the article, written by Jonathan Kauffman, Reign talks about shares her fasinating path to owning a business, how she views herself in the Oakland community, and talks about her growth as a leader.

It's a great read and Reign's story as an inspiring one. Read more below and be sure to check out the great photos too.

Matt Kreutz and his Firebrand bakery "empire" featured in the SF Business Times

Matt Kreutz in front of his Downtown Oakland bakery. Photo credit: SF Business Times. 

Matt Kreutz in front of his Downtown Oakland bakery. Photo credit: SF Business Times. 

Matt Kreutz, founder and owner of Firebrand Artisan Breads, was recently featured in the San Francisco Business Times. Firebrand is one ICA Fund Good Jobs' seed investment companies.

In the interview, published in print and online today, Matt talks about founding Firebrand almost 10 years ago, and about what it takes to grow a successful business in Oakland. He touches on the challenges of living the entrepreneur lifestyle, the meaning of business success, and his vision for continued growth. 

I want to raise the wages here to be at least one or two dollars higher on average. [...] I want to move the business into doing more hiring for people with barriers to employment.
— Matt Kreutz (in conversation with SF Business Times)

But the most inspiring part of the article features what Matt still wants to accomplish, which is to continue creating good jobs. Matt is determined to provide his workers (now numbering more than 75) with higher wages, increase his community impact, and do more to hire people with barriers to employment.

All goals we can get behind! 

Read the rest of this article on the San Francisco Business Time website or download a PDF here. To read more about our work with Firebrand and about their growth, mission, and commitment to good jobs, check out our 2017 Impact Report.