It has always been our vision to create a model that can be replicated with other organizations that are interested in transforming communities through the power of local entrepreneurs. Over the past few years, Rising Tide Capital’s programs have been the subject of increasing interest. To date, we have received over 50 program-related inquiries from organizations across 17 states and the District of Columbia.
Two years ago we seized the opportunity to partner with Sunshine Enterprises, the small business development arm of a century-old faith-based organization in Chicago, on a pilot program to explore how Rising Tide Capital’s program model would work in another city.
In 2013, Sunshine Enterprises graduated its first Community Business Academy class and has since begun to offer some of our Business Acceleration Services as well as expand its CBA class size. In the coming months, Sunshine Enterprises will fully adopt our systems and processes to manage intakes and track outcomes. Our ultimate goal is to export a successful model that will save organizations the time and money it takes to launch a successful entrepreneurship development program.
Sunshine Enterprises recognizes entrepreneurship as a key pathway toward building sustainable communities. We’re working with entrepreneurs in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood to start and grow businesses to help build stronger, safer neighborhoods. We do this by providing in-depth training and assistance to a wide range of businesses, thereby empowering individuals on the route to economic self-sufficiency.
We first learned of Rising Tide Capital at a conference where Alfa Demellash gave a keynote address. She shared her personal story about her mother’s journey of coming to the US to realize her dream to start her own business. Alfa reflected on how this process shaped her understanding of the need to support the growth of business in struggling communities and Rising Tide Capital’s commitment to this goal.
We saw a clear alignment between Rising Tide Capital’s mission and ours. In addition to demonstrating their vision, they’d shown remarkable success with their model. The training through the Community Business Academy is hands-on and covers fundamental business management principles. More importantly, the follow-up coaching through the Business Acceleration Services was a way of extending the support offered to entrepreneurs.
The partnership has been highly valuable. The leaders and staff have been instrumental in helping us to implement the CBA in Chicago. Since our launch we’ve seen tremendous growth, and it’s in no small way due to RTC helping us think about everything from marketing the program, to staffing, to full implementation.