The crises of 2020 magnified the racial, socioeconomic, and gender-based inequities deeply embedded in our country’s financial infrastructure. Drawing on our 25 years of experience, ICA responded by providing customized technical assistance, right-sized financing, and world-class advisors to help companies stabilize, adapt, and position for growth.
Even before the pandemic hit, ICA had identified a clear gap in support for diverse Bay Area entrepreneurs that are no longer start-ups, but lack the operational experience, capacity, and capital to focus on growth.
The Lab at ICA is a new, five-week, cohort-based accelerator program for earlier-stage, high-potential small businesses that have not yet built sufficient revenue or internal capacity to grow. The Lab provides participants with the tools and resources they need to create a robust Growth Road Map.
The Lab complements The Accelerator at ICA, our three-month flagship advising program for growth-stage, scaleable companies. When the pandemic hit, ICA quickly shifted the Accelerator’s curriculum to focus on delivering relevant, actionable, rapid-response support to help participants survive, stabilize, adapt, and pivot.
The challenges of 2020 likewise set the stage for The Resilience Lab Accelerator, a pilot partnership initiative sponsored by Kaiser Permanente. This six-week business-education program brought together 24 companies to focus on building long-term resilience.
There is also a gap in right-size funding for earlier-stage entrepreneurs. While ICA is first and foremost a long-term investor, in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown, we saw that small businesses needed an immediate response to a dire liquidity crisis.
ICA’s Rapid Response Liquidity Fund addressed our companies’ urgent need for cash by providing relief funds to help our companies stabilize their operations, preserve local jobs, and make quick investments to adapt and pivot their businesses.
The pandemic also underscored the gap in capital for entrepreneurs who lack access to financing from friends and family that often serves as a bridge for earlier-stage businesses. To address this gap, ICA developed a new seed capital product providing equity investments of up to $50,000 (it will launch in 2021 with a specific focus on companies that have participated in The Lab at ICA).
ICA continued our focus on investing in growth-stage businesses with strong potential to create good jobs and close the racial and gender wealth gaps. That's where ICA's growth capital product comes in. In 2020 with support from JPMorgan Chase through the San Francisco Entrepreneurs of Color Fund, ICA invested $200,000 in Don Bugito—a sustainable, insect-based snack company. To date ICA has deployed Growth Capital in 11 Bay Area businesses.