With a focus on high impact minority-owned companies, Inner City Advisors matches quality business services with targeted investment from Fund Good Jobs to scale the companies’ business and generate good local jobs.
What if we invested in small businesses committed to creating good local jobs with clear career pathways? And then we connected these job openings to workforce training graduates?
This alignment between small business growth, quality job creation, and workforce development is what Inner City Advisors (ICA) seeks to achieve. With a focus on high impact minority-owned companies, ICA matches quality business services with targeted investment from Fund Good Jobs to scale the companies’ business and generate good local jobs. Both then coordinate with workforce training providers to place trainees into these high-impact growing companies.
Over the past two weeks, we’ve discussed ICA’s impetus for creating the Fund as well as the Fund’s structure and its connection to workforce development efforts. In this last installment, Jose Corona from ICA and Sean Murphy from Fund Good Jobs share their takeaways about the creation of the Fund and discuss the role of philanthropy.
What are some key partnerships you’ve managed to build, and what is the role of philanthropy?
ICA has leveraged partnerships with government, business, nonprofits and the public to work towards supporting entrepreneurs and creating good jobs. One thing we realized at the start of the Fund was that we were only as strong as our voice, and the initial range of our outreach was limited. We would not have been as successful without philanthropy. We partnered with East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) and relied on their track record to lend credibility to ICA.
Our relationship with EBCF helped provide a platform for us; we were ultimately able to convene 30-40 people from local and national banks, venture capital and private equity to talk about addressing the gap of capital. Through this vehicle we were able to tell our story: that we are fiercely committed to funding good jobs locally, which starts with building sound businesses and not enforcing good jobs at the wrong time, but creating them in an effective way. We are not trying to replace what is already being done; we are trying to enhance what is out there.
This approach seems to have significant regional impact, but what relevance does it have nationally?
While we do have a regional scope, there are learnings and best practices to apply in a national context. Everyone’s talking about jobs these days.
Our model goes beyond a linear investment approach to one that is equally committed to the workforce and services that come alongside the investment. This is the model we’re trying to create and you can see the kind of impact we’ve had with through the numbers and stories. We’ve had communities outside of the Bay reach out to us to explore adapting our approach. We are always thinking about how we share what we do for the benefit of advancing our mission and to have national impact. To do that, we are looking to those leading innovation at the national level (such as [Living Cities](/)) to help facilitate the conversation. Again, philanthropy can play a real role in helping to do that.
What are some final takeaways from the creation of the Fund that you’d like to share?
_Innovation for innovation’s sake is never enough. _
At end of the day, it’s easy to say we’re creative and innovative. What makes us different is that we’re not out there to just outcompete other business models. We are thinking creatively about how to be solution-oriented for the needs of our entrepreneurs and the local community.
_Lead and message with the mission in mind. _
We’re out there to compete for the mission. We talk a lot about betting on good job creators. We are clear about building sound businesses and creating good, sustainable jobs. We also position ourselves to make tough decisions to ensure that these businesses grow—we bet on people to build strong business.
It’s important to be self-reflective and evolving.
To ensure we were creating jobs for those who need them most, we needed to dig deeper. After analyzing our portfolio, we realized that creating jobs for those who needed them most meant expanding beyond the inner city. The socioeconomics of our communities are changing. It’s not enough to just create jobs in the “inner city” anymore.
We also realized we needed to focus on the populations that have the highest barriers to employment (such as foster youth, English language learners, formerly incarcerated, etc.), and so now we’ve taken it upon ourselves to figure out how to do so. To get there, we have to be intentional about the partnerships we’re building and the capital we’re attracting.
Bets Edasery is a former intern with the Collaborative Change team at Living Cities and is currently an Analyst at _ TCC Group -a leading social sector consulting firm specializing in Strategy, Evaluation, and Capacity Building for Corporate, Philanthropic
& Nonprofit Organizations._