The ICA community, one year on.
This week marks one-year since the Bay Area (and much of the United States) entered lockdown. Practically overnight, our community entered a new era of uncertainty, while ICA small businesses had to immediately and drastically change operations and figure out how to stay in business.
It’s hard to put into words the impact the crisis has had on our community. In March, 2020 we hoped things would be back to normal within a few weeks; 12 months later, many companies and communities are still in survival mode. As we mark this odd milestone, I wanted to share three takeaways from the last year:
- Businesses are growing. I continue to be impressed by the resilience and determination of ICA’s entrepreneurs. They have pivoted, restructured, cut costs, found new sales channels, and faced down adversity. It is not possible to overstate the challenges they have faced, but most ICA business have survived, many have grown, and many are thriving.
- The ICA community has really stepped up. You have donated to ICA, shopped at our companies, and supported our community as advisors and professional service providers. Our team has been busy too! In 2020, we served more than 80 entrepreneurs through our continuum of small business coaching and capital, provided emergency financing to 29 companies through the new Rapid Response Liquidity Fund, and made our newest investment in Don Bugito (a unique ICA company that sells planet-friendly protein snacks, featuring delicious edible insects). In 2021, we are getting ready to launch new cohorts of The Accelerator and the Lab at ICA, we’ve grown our team, and we’ve introduced new ways for entrepreneurs to get capital.
- Going back to business as usual is not good enough. Our economy has proven to be unsustainable. Women and entrepreneurs of color have been locked out of the resources, connections, and capital more readily available to many of their white male counterparts, long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. And, unfortunately, structural inequities mean that many of the COVID relief measures are leaving these communities out again. Anticipating a world after the pandemic cannot mean going back to the status quo. It can be hard to envision what’s possible when so many businesses are struggling, but we have an opportunity to rebuild better, with an economy that truly works for all. That’s our vision and, together, we intend to make it a reality.
Our work is cut out for us. I recognize the difficult work ahead, but I truly believe that our team, our community, and our entrepreneurs are up to the challenge. I can’t wait to share what we’ve got planned this year and I hope you’ll join us.
— Allison Kelly, CEO