Helping Small Businesses Grow, Creating Jobs in Underserved Communities

Feature Story
Steven Rogers, senior lecturer of business administration, Harvard Business School, leads a session on accessing capital.
Steven Rogers, senior lecturer of business administration, Harvard Business School, leads a session on accessing capital.

Risa and David Baron are proud of how their once small, El Cajon-based business, Jackie’s Jams, has grown over the past eight years. The handcrafted jams and jellies made with fresh fruit from mostly local farmers are sold in dozens of Whole Foods and Sprouts markets, as well as served in various hotels and restaurants throughout San Diego, Los Angeles, and Ventura counties. But despite Jackie’s Jams’ achievements, the Barons recognize they need capital to grow their business for long-term success.

Eager to learn how to take their business to the next level, the Barons recently attended the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City’s kick-off seminar for its Inner City Capital Connections program in San Diego. Kaiser Permanente San Diego collaborated with ICIC to host the event for 55 area small-business owners and leaders. Aligned with Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to improve conditions in our communities that affect health and equity, the free program provides the necessary tools and resources to help participants from under-resourced areas access capital and attain sustainable business growth.

“When businesses thrive, more individuals and families can afford nutritious food, secure housing, obtain health care, and acquire a good education — improving the community’s health and well-being,” said John Yamamoto, vice president, Community Health, Government Relations, and Community Engagement, Kaiser Permanente Southern California.

ICCC program offers executive education and personalized coaching

ICCC San Diego participants network while enjoying their lunch break.

ICCC San Diego participants network while enjoying their lunch break.

Growing a small business can be difficult, especially for entrepreneurs in under-resourced areas who cite lack of knowledge and relationships as key barriers to gaining needed capital. Beginning with the opening seminar, the ICCC program pulls together professors from esteemed institutions such as Harvard Business School, and executives from established companies such as Bank of America, to provide the executive education. Personalized coaching sessions wrap up the more than 10-hour day.

But the learning doesn’t stop there. The small-business participants receive another approximately 32 hours of coaching and webinars. A culmination event will be held in Boston this November where these participants can network and make pitches to capital providers.

“This program is the marriage of socioeconomic growth and wellness in the San Diego community,” said Jane Finley, senior vice president and area manager, Kaiser Permanente San Diego County Area. “Health care is one component of the overall health in the community. For us to fulfill our mission of improving not only the health of our members but also of the communities we serve, we must help our small businesses grow and create more jobs.”

For the Barons, their challenges to growth include lack of space and automated services. A shared kitchen limits working hours, and lack of storage prevents buying items in bulk for cost savings. While the Barons agree labeling each jar by hand lends an authentic touch to their product, they often need to call on family members and friends to help when they receive large orders.

“Our long-term goal is to own and operate our own kitchen, which is expensive,” said David Baron after the event. “The information at the ICCC seminar, and now in their webinars, is spot on.”

The Barons’ small business is one of 85 businesses in the San Diego area accepted this year into the ICCC program. About 74 percent of these businesses are seeking to obtain capital, 69 percent are minority-owned, and 45 percent are woman-owned.

For comments from Kaiser Permanente and ICCC program leaders, faculty, and small business participants for the San Diego event, please see the following short videos:

ICCC Program Partners

  • Jane Finley, senior vice president and area manager, Kaiser Permanente San Diego County Area, and Steve Grossman, chief executive officer, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City
  • Sammy Totah, PharmD, chief operating officer, Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center, and Max Villalobos, chief operating officer, Kaiser Permanente North San Diego County

ICCC Program Faculty

ICCC Program Small Business Participants

  • Bruce Mayberry, chairman, Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce
  • Joe Rubio, chief financial officer, Blue Nose IT Solutions