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Pacific Community Ventures: “We Can’t Overemphasize the Value of Mentorship”

#SFSBW2018 asked some of our small business resources to share insights, best practices, and examples of how they help small business owners flourish. Today we hear from Patrick Duggan, Director of Pacific Community Ventures.

Pacific Community Ventures

Patrick, what is Pacific Community Ventures’ mission?

Pacific Community Ventures envisions a world of thriving communities where everyone has a fair shake. Our mission is to invest in small businesses, create good jobs for working people, and make markets work for social good. We achieve our mission through a combination of fair lending, free mentorship, skilled volunteerism, social impact measurement and management tools, and field-building research.

What are your organization’s recent accomplishments that demonstrate how you have helped the small business community?

Pacific Community Ventures matched 385 small businesses with pro bono mentors in 2017. Our business advisors volunteered 2,350 hours last year – that’s almost $500,000 worth of free advice and coaching! In all we served 45 California small businesses with our unique “Loans + Advice” program.

Our focus is on working with small business owners who’ve had a hard time accessing capital, like female entrepreneurs, immigrant entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs of color, and borrowers who may have been turned down for SBA or traditional bank loans. In 2017 that focus was rewarded with a CDFI Award from the U.S. Treasury Department, as well as a sizable investment from the Quality Jobs Fund (established by the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and administered by The New World Foundation to serve business owners of color in the broader Bay Area), and a funding partnership with JP Morgan Chase as one of the founding nonprofits for their San Francisco Entrepreneurs of Color Fund.

What tools and resources has Pacific Community Ventures created to help small businesses tap into new opportunities to reach new customers, increase their revenue, and grow their business?

Pacific Community Ventures leverages technology and volunteerism to provide small business owners with high-quality mentoring at no cost. Our award-winning small business advising and mentoring program matches small business owners who are beyond the startup phase with pro bono business coaches and mentors who provide tailored, hands-on advising. All advice is completely free and completely confidential. Companies working with our mentors increase their annual revenue by 20% on average.

We’re also preparing to launch Good Jobs, Good Business, a practical toolkit to help small business owners create jobs that boost the bottom line.

San Francisco has been experiencing quite the transformation. What is your organization doing to attract and support new and younger small business owners? What resources do you offer to entrepreneurs and small businesses to get started?

Building a successful small business involves overcoming many challenges, and it’s even harder if you’re new to the country or don’t have money from your family to help you get started.

While we don’t work with pure startups, once a company has been in business for 12 months we have a wide array of services to help them grow and thrive. We give entrepreneurs hope by helping them knock down structural barriers and arming them with resources, advice, and investment.

Pacific Community Ventures is a mission-driven lender that provides fair and affordable loans from $10,000 — $200,000 to California small businesses. Our loans help small business owners like you thrive and be successful – especially business owners who have been turned down by traditional banks or credit unions.

San Francisco is known for its diverse culture. How does Pacific Community Ventures ensure that the small businesses that make this city unique are able to stay in San Francisco?

We’re here for the community. Our programs are focused on equity and growing community wealth from the ground up. The majority of San Francisco’s small businesses are started and owned by women and people of color – and they’re far more likely to be turned down for loans or struggle to find mentors. We’re proud to say that 74% of the small businesses in our programs have a female owner, and 42% have a person of color as an owner.

We are also one of the founding organizations of the San Francisco Entrepreneurs of Color Fund alongside Working Solutions and ICA Fund Good Jobs. The San Francisco Entrepreneurs of Color Fund meets you where you are, with fair and affordable capital from $5,000 – $1,000,000, from start-up to scale-up, plus financial advice, one-on-one mentoring, and in-depth classes.

What words of advice or wisdom would you like to share with small business owners?

We can’t overemphasize the value of mentorship. Many small business owners begin their companies after pursuing their passions, like baking, designing jewelry, curating a shop, opening a restaurant, even starting a small farm or landscaping company. Then they start wearing all of the hats: CEO, marketing, product development, supply chain, and sales.

The actual day-to-day needs of growing your business, and making that growth sustainable, are beyond the skills of any one person. For example, you may have made a name for yourself at a popup, but now that you’re ready to open a storefront, how do you find investors? Write a business plan? Develop a brand strategy? Navigate city permitting? And who has the time for all this?

value of mentorship for small businesses

This is where having an advisor or mentor is crucial. It means having the outside perspective of someone who’s navigated the waters that you’ve yet to dip a toe in.

Proyecto Diaz Coffee Case Study

Investing in small businesses combats income inequality by creating jobs with living wages; and yet, small businesses struggle to access the capital they need to grow. Every day, 8,000 small business loan requests are declined by banks across the nation. Even though African-American women and Latinas start businesses at rates higher than any other group, they are three times as likely to be turned down for loans by a bank.

Fernando Diaz of Proyecto Diaz Coffee is from a four-generation coffee-growing family, going back to his grandfather’s farm in Oaxaca, Mexico. Diaz started his own business roasting these coffee beans on a shared roaster, which was limiting his growth. He needed funding, but was turned down by banks and didn’t qualify for Small Business Administration loans.

Diaz was working with a mentor, Erica Lawler of EmPower Media group, on his marketing plan and pitch deck. Lawler recommended he go to a community development financial institution. He did, and was quickly approved by Bay Area nonprofit lender Pacific Community Ventures. Fernando secured the equipment and space he needed to double the amount of coffee he roasts and sells each day.

Diaz is open to hiring anyone, but he believes because of his unique understanding of the Latino culture he can offer a lot to this specific demographic. His business allows employees to explore and work the different coffee sectors, from roasting to marketing to management. He wants his company to be a springboard.

“There are people in the community interested in developing skills,” he says. “They can work here, make a career here.”

Connect with Pacific Community Ventures: