The numbers say it all: According to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, across the land there are 4.37 million Latino-owned businesses that, combined, annually contribute over $700 billion to the American economy. Seventy-percent of these are deemed small businesses, having fewer than 100 on staff.
Starting a successful small business is a stepping stone to the building of Latino wealth and power. An asset is created — one that is often passed down to the next generation.
MEDA supports small businesses in San Francisco’s Mission District using a multi-pronged strategy:
- Workshops. MEDA’s Business Development team offers free evening workshops, in Spanish and English, with 10 sessions over the span of five weeks. The curriculum runs the gamut from creating a business plan and lease negotiation to strengthening one’s personal finances and tax ramifications.
- Technical assistance via one-on-one coaching. After graduating from the 10-week workshop, clients are then availed of a free coach to assist in starting or expanding a small business. There have been 86 business started or expanded in 2018 so far.
- Plaza Adelante. MEDA’s neighborhood center (2301 Mission St.) features a microbusiness incubator for clients. In 2018, this first floor has been reimagined, and will soon open as an all-the-more welcoming space. There are five ventures along the 19th Street side; three food stalls will be included , with ever-popular Cholo Soy and his Peruvian menu returning, plus newcomer coffee business Cafe de Olla and one other business to be announced soon.
- Small Sites Program. Launched by the City of San Francisco a fews ago, MEDA has harnessed the power of the Small Sites Program to purchase four- to 25-unit building with residents vulnerable to eviction. The portfolio includes 22 buildings comprising 177 units, in the Mission, Bernal Heights and Excelsior neighborhoods. MEDA is now focusing on properties that also included at-risk commercial spaces, with 16 units already preserved.
- Fondo Adelante. MEDA has a community loan arm, Fondo Adelante, fills the vacuum of the need for access to capital for entrepreneurs that could not obtain loans from traditional lenders. Since its launch three years ago, there have been 72 loans disbursed for $2.2 million, with all loans going to small-business owners.
- Policy work. MEDA is driving policy to support family-serving businesses in the Mission, especially along the commercial lifeblood of the neighborhood, Mission Street from Duboce Avenue to Cesar Chavez Street. There have been 300 ventures reached out to along the Mission Street corridor, with 163 businesses having answered a survey to assess individual and community need. Forty businesses received one-on-one technical assistance from our businesses coaches. MEDA also works with City Hall to drive policies that would benefit the neighborhood’s family-serving ventures, such as the possible creation of a Special-Use District (SUD) to preserve the MIssion’s history and culture, working toward restrictions on new businesses catering to just six-figure earners and fostering equilibrium of business types.
It is imperative that the Latino immigrant community has culturally relevant, affordable places to shop. That’s why MEDA encourages all community members to come out on #SmallBizSat (Saturday, Nov. 24) to #ShopSmall and support our family-serving businesses in the Mission. It will make that holiday gift all-the-more special this season.