“Transformation is not accomplished by tentative wading at the edge”
―Robin Wall Kimmerer
Over the past month I’ve been reading essays from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s incredible collection, Braiding Sweetgrass. Late to the game, I know. If you haven’t spent time with this book — I recommend it. As a scientist and professor of Environmental Biology, as well as a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Kimmerer writes beautifully on myriad topics around the interconnectedness of people and the natural world. Her book has made me think about the ecosystem that is our Bay Area small business community. The word “ecosystem” can be overused but we mean it literally: our mutual success depends on each other. This community of founders, investors, funders, partners, capacity builders and policy makers comes together to make a change: to create wealth for women and people of color — and we’re only able to do this by working together for our shared success.
2022 by the numbers
95+ high-potential small businesses served
31 companies graduated from ICA accelerator programs
13 investments in new ICA Portfolio companies
77¢ of every dollar to entrepreneurs of color
69¢ of every dollar to women
39 total companies now in the ICA Portfolio
336 Bay Area jobs created and retained by ICA Portfolio Companies
20 ICA team members, interns, and consultants
I’m excited to share some highlights of what ICA accomplished in 2022 in our work to support and invest in underrepresented Bay Area founders. It is a testament to the reciprocity of our network and the bold impact we can have when we join together.
Founder-centered support for every stage of business
In 2022, 31 companies graduated from our accelerator programs: 16 growth-stage companies from the 4-month Accelerator at ICA, and 15 seed-stage companies from the 5-week Lab at ICA. These businesses range from early-stage microenterprises that have just hired their first employee to fast growing small businesses that employ 30+ staff. We supported an additional 60+ ICA alumni founders through our follow-on support services like advising and workshops.
This year, we launched a pilot, Shared Services, to grow our support pipeline by offering deeply discounted professional services, like HR and CFO advising, from trusted providers to alumni companies. We’ll be developing this into a full-fledged program of ICA in 2023.
Diversity makes us stronger
At ICA, we’re building towards a financial system that ensures that all Bay Area founders have a fair chance to bring their dreams to life. As you know, we are living in the legacy of profound systemic inequities. ICA programs are designed to address the unique barriers faced by people of color and women. We support and invest in these founders and help them grow their businesses and create quality, wealth-generating jobs in their community. We’re proud to share that in 2022, 85% of all companies engaged with ICA are founded by people of color and 61% are founded by women. All together, 96% of founders we partnered with, either through our programs or who received investment from ICA, are women or people of color.
Investing in the Bay Area’s boldest businesses
In 2022, ICA made 8 Seed Capital investments in smaller, emerging companies, 5 Growth Capital investments, and 2 follow-on investments. Each of these businesses demonstrate high-potential for both revenue growth and social impact. This brings ICA’s total portfolio of companies to 39, more than 5X our 2020 portfolio size.
Early this year, we began using our new ICA Impact Note, which now represents more than 10% of our overall investments. This innovative investment structure helps founders prioritize social good by earning back equity when they achieve impact milestones like good jobs created, diversity in leadership roles, employee benefits and profit sharing.
Building our dream team
In 2022 we brought on 2 new board members and 6 new team members — 5 of these hires filling brand new roles at ICA to help us better serve our growing community of entrepreneurs. We’re continuing to invest in our team and continually iterate on creating good jobs here at ICA with additions to our benefits package like quarterly mental health days, improvements to our health insurance, and more equitable 401(k) matching.
And most exciting of all, we welcomed two new ICA babies in 2022!
Happy New Year!
Wishing you and yours a warm holiday season and Happy New Year. Thank you for being a part of the ICA ecosystem — we’re looking forward to another year of good work, done in community, to build an economy that truly works for all.