Founder of Evolve Oakland
Established: 2013 | Employees: 4
Website: evolveoakland.com | Social: @evolveoakland // facebook.com/evolveoakland
ICA Investment Portfolio Company
“Evolve is a village. We create spaces for people to work together to secure upward mobility for Black communities, leaders, and businesses. Evolve cultivates ownership of capital, strong leadership, strategic innovation, business development, and belonging through an intentional and meaningful exchange.
We are a brain trust with a wealth of wisdom and a place of healing where relationships are established and strengthened. We are a sanctuary for entrepreneurs, creatives, leaders to build, heal, grow, and collaborate together.”
Why did you decide to start Evolve Oakland?
Entrepreneurs of color lack spaces to create, build, network, and collaborate. Evolve is that place. We cultivate solutions, provide access, and connect people for upward mobility and collective liberation.
What’s your best piece of advice for other entrepreneurs?
Don't isolate—connect with other entrepreneurs and ask for what you need.
What has been your most impactful interaction with ICA?
During the pandemic, members of the ICA team stopped by our temporarily closed facility, sent food treats, and offered unbridled support during this most critical of times. The conversations and partnership was—and remains—priceless. In the worst of times, you find out who your real allies are.
How do you envision Evolve contributing to a more equitable small business ecosystem?
The sharing of resources is mission-critical to the work of freedom for all. We must continue to share what we have, use what we've got, and ensure our barns continually have room for abundance to flow in and out from our network and circles. Freely giving to all eliminates lack in the economy.
What’s on the horizon for Evolve?
Evolve is in a rebuilding state. We survived the recent trials of the pandemic only to embark on a greater pandemic: a lack of ownership [when it comes to physical spaces]. This pandemic is leaving entrepreneurs of color vulnerable as they build spaces and communities that can be displaced by skyrocketing rents and powerful landlords who are profit-over-people driven.
But we can't teach it if we're not first modeling it. We are currently securing a temporary home that will set us on the pathway to ownership for all. We will continue to build the ecosystem of partners and advocates of entrepreneurs of color that in turn provides technical assistance, investment, and overall support for the journey of entrepreneurship.