Continuum of Capital: OFN Visits Oakland’s Small Business and Nonprofit Community

Ashley Austin

The OFN team recently traveled to Oakland to visit member CDFIs and their small business and nonprofit clients. A few of our partners also joined us to witness first-hand how their investments in CDFIs generate economic opportunity for people and places that mainstream finance doesn’t traditionally reach.  

The theme of “Continuum of Capital” was evident as we walked the streets of Oakland and saw the change that has occurred, particularly over the last three years. We also heard directly from CDFI-funded small business owners about their plans going forward and the opportunities they want to continue creating in their community.  

Tour Highlights:  

  • Firebrand Artisan Breads is a “people first, purpose driven” bakery funded by OFN member ICA Fund. They not only bake amazing bread, but they also knock down barriers to employment by providing living wages and full healthcare benefits for their entire team – many who have overcome employment barriers, incarceration, homelessness, and more. 

  • McMullen Boutique is an all-inclusive, luxury womenswear business with a commitment to supporting African American apparel and home decor designers. Supported by OFN member Main Street Launch, McMullen also creates local jobs and gives back to the community.

  • Kingston 11 Cuisine, a classic Jamaican fare restaurant funded by Main Street Launch, served lunch to our group. Kingston 11 feeds the local community in many ways, including partnering with NBA star Stephen Curry and his wife Ayesha to provide meals to those experiencing homelessness and making sure they eat with dignity.

  • Restorative Justice Center for Oakland Youth is a nonprofit organization focused on reducing racial disparities and reforming the juvenile justice system through institutionalization of restorative justice. During the walking tour, we saw the building that will become the organization’s future home, with the help of a renovation and acquisition loan from OFN member Community Vision

  • The Damel, funded by Working Solutions CDFI, is a multicultural restaurant and market specializing in West African and South American food, including some of the best empanadas in town! 

  • Oakland Fortune Factory, supported with advisory services from Pacific Community Ventures, is the oldest family-owned and operated handmade fortune cookie factory in the country. This seven-person, family-run enterprise makes custom fortune cookies for all types of events, including birthdays, bridal showers, and more.  

  • Swan Market is a historic restoration marketplace with dozens of restaurants and boutiques that received loan capital from CDFIs.  

Learn more about the amazing small businesses, nonprofits, and other CDFI-funded projects we visited by clicking on the links above. You can also check out our Facebook album and Instagram highlights for more photos from the trip.  

Special thanks to all those who helped make this Oakland CDFI impact tour a success! We look forward to joining more OFN members and partners around the country this year as we continue our work to finance justice and change.  

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