Vice President Kamala Harris visited her hometown of Oakland yesterday and ICA Accelerator company Red Door Catering was one of her main destinations. Vice President Harris held a listening session on the needs of small businesses and the role of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in funding and supporting them at the Red Door headquarters in West Oakland.
ICA CEO, Allison Kelly, was there alongside Luz Urrutia, CEO of Accion Opportunity Fund, a fellow CDFI, to talk about the unique ways in which CDFIs partner with businesses like Red Door.
Joining the Vice President were longtime champion of ICA, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Senator Alex Padilla, and Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis.
Speaking in front of the group, The Red Door’s Reign Free shared her experiences building a successful catering business from the ground up, and talked about the support she has received from ICA and Accion Opportunity Fund. She also touched on the challenges and opportunities posed by the COVID-19 crisis over the last year.
ABOVE: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Reign Free, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senator Alex Padilla, and Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis at Red Door Catering in Oakland on April 5th, 2021. | photo by Jessica Christian, San Francisco Chronicle
Vice President Harris specifically chose to hold the listening session at the Red Door’s West Oakland headquarters to recognize the many ways in which CDFIs support small businesses. Reign is a graduate of the Accelerator at ICA, having worked with us since 2012, and she is a recipient of loans from Accion Opportunity Fund.
What’s more, Reign’s input and insights were instrumental in helping ICA develop our Rapid Response Liquidity Fund to provide immediate 0%-interest loans to businesses as the pandemic was hitting.
Speaking at the event, Allison Kelly touched upon the ways in which ICA’s continuum of coaching and capital helps business grow, as well as the ways in which ICA listens to founders like Reign to ensure that we are truly responsive to our entrepreneurs’ needs.
“In our 25th year, ICA is building on the 40-year track record of CDFIs which bring to bear all of the funding and support tools at our disposal to grow businesses like Reign’s,” said Allison Kelly, ICA's CEO.
“We can be fast, we can be nimble, and we can be responsive to the needs of our community,” she added. Allison also invited all of the attendees, including the Vice President, to ICA’s 25th Anniversary celebration and Pitch Event.
As the event was wrapping up, Vice President Harris turned to Reign and said, “I’m going to go around the country and talk about you!”
ABOVE: Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Reign Free, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senator Alex Padilla, Luz Urrutia of Accion Opportunity Fund, Allison Kelly, and Accion Opportuniy Fund's Gwendy Donaker Brown, at Red Door Catering in Oakland on April 5th, 2021.
CDFIs like ICA work hard to close the gaps in funding faced by so many of the country’s entrepreneurs, particularly women and entrepreneurs of color. The industry made hundreds of thousands of small business loans in the last year and relies on its deep knowledge of the small business ecosystem to provide tailored support that is unmatched by traditional lenders. The Vice President has been a champion of the CDFI industry and we are grateful for her continued support.
Watch C-SPAN's video coverage of the event here:
Find out more about The Red Door, Accion Opportunity Fund, and the visit here:
- Watch coverage of the event on C-SPAN here.
- Check out The Red Door Catering.
- Read more about Accion Opportunity Fund.
- Find more coverage of the VP’s visit here.