Become a part of the ESO Ecosystem

Create positive change by joining our Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem 

ESO Ventures Inc. was born in East Oakland as a new, necessary model for economic development that places entrepreneurship at the center, not at the periphery, of wealth-building. 

We are committed to creating economic prosperity in Black and Brown communities by making entrepreneurship accessible and worthwhile. This means ensuring every viable business concept or sole proprietor that starts, has the opportunity to become profitable, grow and become an employer enterprise.

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In 2021, a record number of Americans applied to start 5.4 million new businesses. More than 20 percent higher than any previous year on record with Black, Hispanic, and Asian entrepreneurship powering overall growth.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Economic Opportunity Coalition (EOC) 
The White House Fact Sheet, July 28, 2022

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We believe that empowering Black and Brown entrepreneurs to build businesses results in job creation, civic engagement, shared prosperity, and the closing of racial wealth gaps.

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Entrepreneurs who complete an ESO 10-week business incubator have access to financial products from the ESO Capital in the Community Fund to grow their enterprises. Currently, financial products from the ESO Capital in the Community Fund to grow their enterprises.

 

Currently, financial products are only available to California-based businesses.

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Our partners in shared prosperity

The Bay Area Community College Consortium has partnered with us to bridge the gap in entrepreneurs’ business acumen with our next twelve incubators.

ESO’s program provides confidence, resources, and knowledge through competency-based curriculum, a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem, and 1-on-1 business coaching. In 2022, the Bay Area Community College Consortium (BACCC) partnered with ESO to bring our incubator to six community colleges in the area.

 

If you are a California Community College and want to partner with ESO, please see the Solicitation of Interest (SOI) application to join our Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. The application process is managed by our collaborators and Workforce Innovation Labs.

 

Applications are due on November 1, 2022.

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"Through a dynamic partnership with ESO Ventures, we are leveraging the world's greatest open access higher ed institutions to train and empower the next generation of Black and Brown business owners."

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Xavier Nazario, Managing Partner, Workforce Innovation Labs

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Start building an equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem
in your community

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Experience

The ESO business incubator co-brands with partners who share a commitment to economic mobility through entrepreneurship. Our partners range from higher education, municipalities, community-based organizations, and the corporate sector.

 

Community colleges are partnering with ESO to reach entrepreneurs. Municipalities are looking to activate and support their small business economy. Community-based organizations serving youth and families want to add entrepreneurship to their programming. Companies are looking to build out diverse supplier networks and create social impact through targeted local investment. Whatever your reason, we encourage you to invest in a local small business ecosystem through ESO’s unique public-private partnership model.

Our 10-week incubator provides much more than just business knowledge to entrepreneurs, it provides an action-oriented, focused, and culturally competent community. After completing the incubator, ESO entrepreneurs have the opportunity to work with a team of champions and industry expert advisors. 

 

California-based businesses have an opportunity to access affordable capital through ESO’s Capital in the Community Fund.

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Design

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Outcomes

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Improve economic mobility in the community

Build and support strong local businesses that promote shared
prosperity

Increase civic leadership through entrepreneurship

Close the racial wealth gap

Next steps in partnering with ESO

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Complete our partnership form

Let us know what type of partnership you are interested in. 
We will get in touch to find ways to collaborate.

Get on a call with our team

Great relationships start with real conversations. Based on your availability, we will schedule a meeting to discuss shared interests and goals and opportunities for collaboration.

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Receive a proposal

We will provide you with a customized budget. 
This document will be the kick-off to our future collaboration.

Start building where you are

Once the program’s concrete-details are approved, our 10 week business incubator will be launched.

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”From day one, I knew the equity-based incubator model built by the founders of ESO Ventures had the right mix of passion, focus, and hustle to train and empower Black and Brown entrepreneurs in East Oakland. I'm excited to see their model of confidence, competence, and affordable capital make a significant positive economic impact in underinvested communities across the U.S.”

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Loren Taylor, Member, Oakland City Council D6

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What we've achieved

We’ve been committed to the sustained success of Black and Brown people since ESO’s inception.

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We founded ESO Ventures to activate an economic corridor in East Oakland, the last remaining majority Black community in one of the most diverse cities in America.

Piloting a virtual business incubator for 35 East Side Oakland entrepreneurs brought together the founding team to create a new public-private model for economic mobility through
entrepreneurship.  Over time, ESO  developed it’s 3 C model: Confidence,
Competence and Capital.

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We partnered with Workforce Innovation Labs to launch a Regional Joint Venture (RJV) with the Bay Area Community College Consortium (BACCC).

The RJV leverages state workforce development funds through the Strong Workforce Program (SWP) to create a regional network of business incubators across the Bay Area as an Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem (EEE). Six colleges are participating in Phase 1 of the expansion and seeds are being planted to expand the network both within the Bay Area and additional regions of the state through the California Community Colleges.

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ESO Capital in the Community Fund (CICF) is born with an $8M award from the State of California.

Formed to provide the first investment for community-based businesses led by Black and Brown entrepreneurs using nontraditional methods of funding, the CICF provides non-dilutive, low-interest, non-asset-based loans ranging from $5,000 - $100,000 to qualifying ESO alumni. In 2022, the State of California made an additional $10M budget allocation to grow the initiative from Oakland and the Bay Area to a statewide investment fund.

Meet the team

Our founders, program team, and business coaches are experienced entrepreneurs and professionals with expertise in developing Black and Brown business owners. Their extensive knowledge in business development, raising capital, HR, business culture, and growth strategy establishes a high standard for entrepreneurs who complete the program. Most importantly, we know how to work collaboratively with entrepreneurs and community partners to drive real business results.

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Benjamin Wanzo

Co-Founder & Partner

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Martha Hernández

Co-Founder & Partner

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Alfredo Mathew III

Co-Founder & Partner

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Kysha Mitchell

Lead Coach

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Sabrina Mutukisna

Director of Programs

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Zakiya Mackey

Program Manager

Support economic mobility for Black & Brown entrepreneurs

By the end of 2023, we will incubate 400 Black and Brown businesses in the Bay Area and make 200 investments in potential employer enterprises from $5,000-$100,000 with a target of $5,000-$32,000. You can help us build this sustained growth and take it across America.

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