Oakland Launches Micro Business Support Program for Immigrant Communities

Program provides targeted support focused on immigrant and women-owned businesses; first workshop to be held Thursday, January 25

Fruitvale gates

Oakland, CA – The City of Oakland's Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD) is launching a new Immigrant Micro Business Support Program in partnership with The Unity Council and Feed the Hunger Fund, thanks to funding received via the Local Immigrant Integration and Inclusion Grant (LIIIG) of $275,000 from California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GoBiz).

With this grant funding, EWDD, The Unity Council and Feed the Hunger Fund have launched a specially targeted program for immigrant start-up businesses that provides culturally and linguistically competent business assistance to ensure these businesses launch and succeed. This new Immigrant Micro Business Support Program provides workshops, financial coaching and low-cost financing to Oakland’s micro-enterprise and small businesses, with a focus on serving immigrant and women owned businesses, that build upon existing programs and small business services to build a more resilient and inclusive business community in Oakland.

"We know small businesses are the backbone of the economy, and we are so grateful for this State grant that will enable us to support to Oakland's immigrant entrepreneurs," said Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao. "Together with our Neighborhood Business Assistance Program, Façade and Tenant Improvement Grants, and Activate Oakland, this new program will help small businesses have the tools and support they need to thrive."

“We are proud and excited that for the first time we will be allowed to use state funding to provide business assistance to entrepreneurs, regardless of immigration status,” said Sofia Navarro, Interim Director of Oakland’s Economic and Workforce Development Department. “Focusing on supporting start-up businesses will not only help build our local economy but also help our immigrant entrepreneurs, who have not been well served in the past due to federal grant restrictions.”

“In 2024, thanks to the generous support of the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development and the Citi Foundation, Feed The Hunger Fund will be able to provide nearly $50,000 in grants to Mobile Food Vendors in the San Francisco East Bay,” said Meche Sansores, Senior Loan Officer, Feed the Hunger Fund. “These grants will be paired with $250,000 in FTHF loan capital to qualified vendors.”

“We look forward to continuing our work partnership with the City of Oakland. This opportunity will allow us to serve the hard-to-reach immigrant entrepreneur population and our ethnic enclave commercial corridors," said Tiffany Lacsado, Director of Economic Development, The Unity Council.

January 25 Mobile Food Vendor Workshop on Permitting & Funding Assistance (en Español)

The first workshop offered as part of the new Immigrant Micro-business Support Program will be held on Thursday, January 25 at 6pm at Fruitvale Senior Center, 3301 East 12th Street. Mobile Food Vendors are invited to attend a free community workshop on how to apply for permits and get a business loan as a food cart entrepreneur. This workshop will be held in Spanish.

This informational workshop is designed to help immigrant entrepreneurs kickstart their businesses successfully. It will cover key topics like permits and licenses, offering practical insights into the regulatory side of things, as well as providing valuable information on how to obtain loans, empowering participants with the knowledge needed to secure financial support for starting and growing their businesses.

More information about the workshop is available here https://www.oaklandca.gov/even...;

More about the Immigrant Micro Business Support Program

The Immigrant Micro Business Support Program is recruiting program participants and providing technical assistance including digital literacy instruction, individual coaching, translation services, and business development workshops. The program will also convene entrepreneurs for networking, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and access to capital via low interest loans, and host quarterly networking events for new immigrant entrepreneurs.

Participating entrepreneurs will be able to prototype and test their products and services, develop their skills and grow their business. Program staff will provide wrap-around assistance at retail pop-ups to coach vendors on licensing and permitting, merchandising, payment processing, marketing and customer feedback tracking. In the next year, the program will provide $50,000 in grants to food vendors, in addition to $250,000 in low interest loan capital to qualified program participants.

The program aims to build on the success of The Unity Council Business Assistance Center to reach and respond to a growing demand for coaching, technical assistance and support services for emerging businesses, a key strategy to build assets and wealth amongst communities with the least access to this type of support.

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) distributed the state’s first-ever LIIIG allocations in Fall 2023, with over $6 million to twelve local governments across California. The LIIIG is a one-year grant with a performance period from October 1, 2023, through September 31, 2024. GO-Biz is expected to release a limited second round of funding to support further the equitable distribution of funds in rural regions and for underserved immigrant populations.

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Jean Walsh
Public Information Officer


Posted: January 24th, 2024 11:11 AM

Last Updated: January 24th, 2024 12:40 PM

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