The History of Rising Tide Capital
In 2004, Harvard University graduates Alfa Demmellash and Alex Forrester set out on a mission to help low-income families in New Jersey attain financial success and self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship; thus, Rising Tide Capital (RTC) was founded.
Rising Tide Capital is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization based in Jersey City, New Jersey, dedicated to the economic empowerment of low-income communities through entrepreneurship. Originally, RTC focused primarily on microlending; however, once the organization realized that new entrepreneurs needed training, education, and consulting prior to receiving a microloan, the organization changed its focus.
In 2005, RTC officially ended its in-house microloan program, choosing instead to partner with microfinance organizations that could deliver loans with maximum efficiency. The organization had begun to focus on consulting, and as its client base expanded, it soon became obvious that adjustments needed to be made to accommodate the needs of its growing client base. In 2006, RTC launched a major initiative: the Community Business Academy.
The Community Business Academy (CBA) is an 11-week program offering hands-on training in business planning and management that teaches business fundamentals such as budgeting, bookkeeping, marketing, and financing. Graduates of the CBA continue to receive support and consultation through monthly seminars, intensive group and individual coaching, as well as exclusive networking opportunities available through a unique alumni service called Club CEO. The CBA was designed to go through three cycles (over the course of one year), enabling the Board and executive leadership of the organization to effectively evaluate and make adjustments as deemed necessary so that the best service could be provided to the clients. By the end of the first year, 59 entrepreneurs were trained.
By the end of 2007, the CBA had increased its list of graduates and served approximately 125 entrepreneurs. Additionally RTC also launched the Business Acceleration Services program, which helps to provide clients with access to various markets, finances, and technology tools, as well as aid graduates in building business skills, confidence, and their social networks. The Business Acceleration Services program is currently being revamped so that it can continue to effectively meet the needs of entrepreneurs in today’s tough economic climate.
Rising Tide Capital Today
Today, Rising Tide Capital has trained over 500 entrepreneurs, and has aided in the start of over 100 new businesses. The CBA has moved from a trimester to a semester system in which four classes are taught each semester in Northern New Jersey- three in Hudson County and one in Essex County. The RTC staff has increased from its two founders to a team of 15 people which include 5 AmeriCorps volunteers. Together with passionate volunteers, dedicated board members, non-profit and private partners and committed donors, Rising Tide Capital is able to continue on its mandate of transforming lives and communities through entrepreneurship.