Growth alone is not enough – initial reflections on a regional approach


Growth alone is not enough – initial reflections on a regional approach

by Ingrid Jacobson

After 22 years, having served hundreds of entrepreneurs who have created thousands of jobs and provided millions in wages, we are thinking differently about expansion, our impact, and our role in the region. 

What began as a simple replication strategy has evolved into an approach that encourages regional cooperation and partnership. This strategy is based on authentic relationships, meaningful and aligned definitions of success, and a respect and honor for the unique contributions and characteristics of each community within the 9 county Bay Area. These unique characteristics, if cultivated, allow each city, each neighborhood to fully be itself, in turn making up a rich social fabric that continues to put the Bay Area in a rare position to see trends ahead of the rest of the nation. 

ICA Fund Good Jobs was founded in 1996. Back then, downtown Oakland, the “inner city” was an actual place with many vacant storefronts, desolate streets after business hours, and a place demonstrating a need to focus on building a high-caliber small business ecosystem. Today, at first glance, we have a thriving and lively city center, positive press, and an increased attraction for economic development. However, the impacts on long-term residents without housing and job security are displacement and growing low-wage job options, exacerbating inequality across households, most notably for disenfranchised communities of color.

Our work has been deep rather than wide, and we are forever learning the ways in which we can apply our values-based work in other geographies.

After understanding that a job alone is not enough to close the widening racial wealth gap, we pushed our mission to evolve from: job creation, to good jobs, to jobs that create economic freedom for those that have been systematically excluded from wealth creating opportunities. We embraced the opportunity to evolve and adapt our focus and approach to the rapid transformation we see in our city, and we began to look at the ways that our work could extend beyond our “Oakland lab,” throughout the region. 

Our work has been deep rather than wide, and we are forever learning the ways in which we can apply our values-based work in other geographies. As a first step, we’ve identified the South Bay as such a region and to date, we have begun work in San Jose. In that spirit, we are energized by our partnership with The Sobrato Family Foundation, a long time advocate for advancing community solutions and a foundation that makes strategic investments in effective organizations striving to create sustainable impact. In this work, we choose collaboration, not duplication of the efforts of other small business support organizations. And we choose sharing the wins of growing small businesses as a strategy towards inclusive community revitalization. We choose this so that we can focus on a smaller number of high potential businesses that show a commitment and promise to solving one of the biggest challenges of our time: closing the racial wealth gap. 

The movement from a hyper-community-based focus into one that looks at the region as an economic unit, brings forth a generative and creative tension. One that forces us to examine the role that high potential entrepreneurs play in closing the racial wealth gap through business growth and good job creation. We remain open to what we hear and learn, which pushes us to be more precise in our desired impact beyond the realm of market forces alone. Instead we look at the ways that our increased awareness of our interdependence across sectors, and real opportunities to collaborate, presents a kaleidoscope of solutions that can be shared across the region and the nation.  

Ingrid Jacobson is Director of Regional Strategy and Partnerships at ICA Fund Good Jobs. When she is not planning for any number of post-apocalyptic scenarios, she can squint her eyes and see an emerging reality: one where we are living in the world we have been waiting for.

ICA Fund Good Jobs joins forces with SOCAP.


San Francisco – At the end of October, ICA Fund Good Jobs joined SOCAP 18 - the Social Capital Conference at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Members of ICA Fund Good Jobs staff have long attended the conference, now in its 12th year, and some of our companies have participated in years past, but this was the first year of official partnership between our organizations.

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The ICA Fund Good Jobs team joined many inspiring organizations, entrepreneurs, and funders in the impact investing and social entrepreneurship spaces. In addition to having a constant presence at the conference, on October 23rd we hosted a celebratory reception, and later in the week Ingrid Jacobson joined a powerhouse panel on investing for racial equity.


Bridging the Bay, our reception, hosted on the at the beautiful Museo Italo Americano, just steps away from the main SOCAP events, was a big success. Over 120 registered joined many walk-ins from the conference, for a night of networking, entrepreneurship, and delicious food catered by Red Door Catering. The event was sponsored by generous support of our Board and our friends and partners at the Kapor Center.

[PHOTOS] – click here to see photos from the event.

Our efforts at SOCAP didn’t end with the reception. Later in the week, Director of Regional Strategy and Partnerships, Ingrid Jacobson joined a powerhouse panel titled, "Investing in Local Enterprises for Racial Equity", with leaders from across the country all working to create economic and small business opportunities for their communities.

The group –  Allen Woods, Nwamaka Agbo, Mariel Cedeno, Rodney Foxworth, and Ingrid – discussed replicable strategies that work in their work and talked about how innovators across the country are adopting new approaches to build and then reinvest wealth locally. 

Photos from Bridging the Bay, our reception SOCAP 18.

Did you join us at Bridging the Bay, our reception at SOCAP 2018? Find yourself in the photos below! And for more about our experiences at the conference read our recap here.

Photos from Bridging the Bay. Museo Italo Americano, Fort Mason San Francisco. October 23rd, 2018.

Photos by Kola Shobo:

Our 2018 Impact Report is here!

For the last 22 years we’ve worked with companies from throughout the nine Bay Area counties, providing hands-on advising, acceleration, and investment. In the past year, our pro bono advisors donated over 1,200 hours, our companies raised over $6.5mm in just one year, and the total number of people employed by our companies grew by 16%, year over year.

We are very proud of our impact, of our metrics, and of the growth of our companies, yet we also know that much more work remains to be done. In this year’s report, we are happy to share our most up-to-date impact numbers, to tell the stories of our dynamic entrepreneurs, and to share a bold vision for a renewed, regional impact.

See all of our metrics, and read the entire report here:

SOCAP Week is here!

Next week is SOCAP week: here’s what’s going on and where we’ll be all week.

Tuesday (10/23) – Join us at a special reception.

On Tuesday, the first day of the SOCAP Conference, join us at Fort Mason in San Francisco for Bridging the Bay Area, a special invite-only reception celebrating our work to bring to bear the transformative power of growth capital, and highlighting the partnerships that make it possible. 

This event will bring together a powerful group of investors, entrepreneurs, ICA Fund Good Jobs alumni, community leaders, and supporters of our work, who all believe in the power of capital to effect lasting change. The reception takes place at the Museo Italo Americano at Fort Mason and starts at 6PM. Click here to receive and invite and join us.

Thank you to our lead reception sponsor, Kapor Center. 

Thursday (10/25) – Ingrid Jacobson talks Investing for Equity.

On Thursday (October 25th) at 1130am Ingrid joins a powerhouse panel titled, "Investing in Local Enterprises for Racial Equity".

Allen Woods, Nwamaka Agbo, Mariel Cedeno, Rodney Foxworth, and Ingrid will discuss how leaders are adopting multiple approaches to build and then reinvest wealth locally. 

The panelists will discuss replicable strategies that recognize the need and opportunities for sharing and redirecting capital to promote equity. 

Read more about the panel here, and be there Thursday. 

All Week – find us at the conference!


The ICA Fund Good Jobs team will be at SOCAP all week. You'll find us at our booths talking good jobs and entrepreneurship, and featuring some of our portfolio companies. You will also members of the team – including Sean, Ingrid, Kot, Valerie, and Rasheed – at different panels throughout the week. If you're already coming to SOCAP, stop by our booths (33 and 37). If you don't have tickets yet, it's not too late to register.

Dianna selected to 500 Startups Bootcamp

We're happy to share that Dianna Tremblay, Director of Acceleration, has been selected to the 500 Startups Bootcamp for Accelerator Managers (BAM)!

 Dianna Tremblay leading a Good Jobs Accelerator session.

Dianna Tremblay leading a Good Jobs Accelerator session.


Under Dianna's management, our Accelerator companies have raised close to $7M in growth capital, have created and retained over 400 jobs, consistently grown wages year over year, and are run by majority women & people of color management teams. 

The 500 Startups bootcamp is a one week professional development opportunity that focuses on scaling up Accelerator operations and increasing deal flow. (And it kicks off next week.)

Dianna is fundraising to meet the tuition costs and you can join her by backing her Fundly campaign here.