The State of California provided an initial seed investment of $18 million to launch CICF with a focus on Black and Brown sole proprietors in Oakland and surrounding underinvested in communities.The vast majority of business owners are building their business with personal credit cards and their own money.
We believe building confidence and competence, and providing the right amount of capital can change the game of who has access to business ownership and generational wealth-building.
Funding Local Entrepreneurship
The Capital in the Community Fund (CICF) is Your First Yes. It is an investment fund for Black and Brown entrepreneurs managed by ESO Ventures Inc. This fund offers debt investment products uniquely designed for ESO entrepreneurs with a non-traditional approach to business financing.
Our revolutionary financial products are designed to provide the first investment in ESO businesses with non-dilutive low interest capital from $5,000 - $100,000.
Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Currently, only businesses and residents in the
State of California, and members of ESO Ventures network of entrepreneurs can access CICF.
Please visit our frequently asked questions to learn more here.
Our inclusive style:
ESO’s Capital in the Community Fund is not your traditional lender. We have a commercial lending license from the State of California, but we are doing things differently to ensure Black and Brown businesses have the social and financial capital to grow their enterprises.
We believe that if we can support business owners to create a fully functional business across finances, marketing and sales, operations and product development, we can deploy capital with what we call a “handshake.”
Our Handshake Model is built with equality in mind. We developed this model to meet
our entrepreneurs where they are and bring transparency to the financing process.
Traditional banks use the “5 Cs of Credit”: Capacity, Capital, Collateral, Conditions, and Character. ESO uses the “5 Cs of the Handshake”: Confidence, Competence, Capital, Connections, and Community.
Below we describe how ESO builds up these 5 Cs of the Handshake through its programs, readying entrepreneurs to receive their first business investment.
ESO Market Approach
to the 5 C’s
Entrepreneurship is the most powerful way for Black and Brown people to take their first step toward economic freedom and mobility. ESO Ventures’ 10-week business incubator is designed for entrepreneurs to build the confidence needed to formalize and grow their business. This confidence translates into powerful business leadership and readiness – for capital, for growth, and for success.
By working closely with business advisors and coaches, ESO entrepreneurs build business competence, including financial know-how, marketing skills, and operations and sales expertise. When entrepreneurs demonstrate competence at achieving critical business milestones, as well as a willingness to learn, they can unlock capital and more resources to grow through the Handshake Model.
More important than financial capital is social capital, and the ability to build a strong network is crucial for success. ESO entrepreneurs are encouraged to form strong relationships with peers, business advisors and coaches, professional service providers and the ESO team. The Handshake Model considers input from the ESO ecosystem when evaluating a business for financing. Put simply, community input is our version of a credit check. Build your social capital with ESO and we will be the backstop for your business.
Instead of using a traditional banker’s lens and looking at what money entrepreneurs have, we look at what money you need and provide this reward accordingly. Entrepreneurs must provide ESO with a project-based need, a detailed budget request, and basic financial statements to receive investment. ESO’s CICF deploys
capital for short-term accounts payables or long-term project- related business expenses. Businesses not yet in operation, not yet generating revenue, or those without the basic financial statements have access to a maximum $5,000 investment. Financial products are tailored to the stage of your business, and business owners must achieve milestones to unlock the capital. All investments carry an interest rate of 0%-10% and must be repaid according to the terms of the agreement.
is at the heart of ESO. To access financing, ESO alumni entrepreneurs must be subscribed members in the ESO ecosystem. Having ties to the community is more important in the decision-making process than having a strong credit score. When an ESO entrepreneur joins the ecosystem as a member, they gain access to a community of entrepreneurs, ongoing business support, CICF financial products, and the opportunity to endorse other ESO alumni applicants with their funding requests.
“Everyone can be a lender, but what is our niche? Throwing the nuisance in the trash so that our entrepreneurs are in a place of empowerment, so that they can begin building their own tables.”
Senior Director of Capital in the Community Fund
Real financing opportunities
We are committed to finding and building up the next thousands of successful Black and Brown entrepreneurs. We’re about shared prosperity: We work with local businesses that are building wealth where they are; we’re not looking for winners-take-all “unicorns.”
Build where you are with the accountability and assistance to keep your business growing sustainably.
The Handshake model does:
Provide inclusive and innovative financing opportunities specifically for Black and Brown entrepreneurs (who, historically and today, have been denied access to capital and fair financial products)
Provide options for building generational wealth and alleviating generational trauma by providing vetted advocates, advisors, mentors, and opportunities to increase business growth, sustainability, continuity, and internal controls
Engage a team of trusted advisors, service providers, peers, and support groups to weigh in on the decision-making process for all financing requests
Enable accurate, affordable, and helpful financing products
Require financial data to be submitted by applicants for impact reporting purposes
Conduct due diligence, practice compliance, and safe “bets” for ESO alumni only.
The Handshake model does not:
Solely rely on financials to determine investment-worthiness
Make financing decisions based on a credit score
Consider collateral as a means for collecting on unpaid balances
Alienate any for-profit business that is categorized as a start-up, established, or scalable business operating in an underinvested in area by an entrepreneur who identifies as Black or Brown
Use venture capital-style financing or decision-making (not every company is a “unicorn” and we are not focused on that kind of exponential scale)