Since ICA’s founding more than two decades ago, we have been dedicated to the belief that small businesses are uniquely positioned to create positive change in their communities. Over the years, our commitment to working with diverse entrepreneurs from throughout the Bay Area has been steadfast, but our approach to our work has evolved.
We started as Oakland Advisors, with a charter to work within the confines of the “inner city;” today, we are nationally-recognized for our work addressing the interrelated challenges of growing inequality, a dearth of small business capital, and lack of opportunity for wealth creation and career advancement, particularly in communities of color.
As our work has evolved, we’ve led the field in many ways. Most notably, we were the first to explicitly focus on investing in small businesses to support good jobs, through the creation of Fund Good Jobs, one of the first philanthropic venture capital funds.
Today, we are going even further by focusing on investing in entrepreneurs of color and women so they can create wealth-building opportunities for themselves and their employees for the long term. Throughout, we remain transparent, accountable to our community, and eager to do the hard work to make the biggest impact for our entrepreneurs, for our workers, and for the community.
When I joined ICA a year ago, I realized that our mission did not clearly and explicitly communicate our true vision, our North Star. Today, I’m extremely proud to unveil ICA’s new mission:
We accelerate great businesses through mentoring and investments to close the racial and gender wealth gaps.
The time is now.
While we finalized this new mission, vision and accompanying strategic plan last November, the timing of this public unveiling is important. It is no longer good enough to support racial equity implicitly; we must now use our voices to speak up and speak out and explicitly state what we mean and what we stand for.
This reinvigorated mission is an explicit statement of our ultimate goal: to counter the impact of structural and racial inequities in our financial system so that aspiring entrepreneurs can grow the value of their businesses and help build wealth in their communities.
We envision an economy that works for all, and our new mission is a critical step to get there.
Our new mission statement also speaks to what we do best: business acceleration through investment and mentoring. Through the ICA Accelerator, our tailored Investments, and with the continued partnership of our pro bono advisors we will continue to provide the coaching, connections, and capital that our entrepreneurs need to grow their businesses.
Over 24 years, ICA has helped more than 600 local entrepreneurs access the capital and expert advice they need to sustainably and strategically grow their businesses, create good jobs, and build wealth in their communities. In turn, ICA companies have created over 6,000 jobs and paid more than $1 billion dollars in wages to local workers.
Yet we know that there’s more to do. Entrepreneurs can be powerful agents of change, yet too many of them are locked out of our economic system due to ingrained inequities that perpetuate deepening racial and gender wealth gaps.
I look forward to connecting with you – our supporters, funders, and community members – as we undertake the hard work to realize our mission during unprecedented times. I encourage you to explore this new website. Here you’ll be able to read more about our work, hear from our companies, and find ways to join us.