CII Oakland Business Recovery Pilot

RootChangeReimagining Projects

Four Entrepreneurs in Oakland California are raising funds to re-build their businesses post-Covid. Support them today! 

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of millions of people across the United States. Small businesses were especially hit hard by the global pandemic, with many closing for long periods of time. These small to micro-businesses play a critical role in the local economy, as employers of some of our most vulnerable low-wage workers, who are heavily representative of people of color, women, immigrants, and refugees.  

In 2021, Root Change, in collaboration with Mauricio Miller and The Unity Council, a social equity development non-profit in Oakland, California, launched the Community Independence Initiative (CII) Oakland Business Recovery pilot to test an alternative peer-driven change model for rebuilding local economies. The pilot builds off the success of the Family Independence Initiative (FII), founded by Mauricio Miller, author of The Alternative. Mauricio recently partnered with Root Change to start the Community Independence Initiative (CII)

The CII Oakland Business Recovery pilot provides a structure for investing in vulnerable micro-businesses to help them rebuild and hire back their employees. Participating businesses form peer-support groups receive a social equity investment, and utilize the Mutuality Platform, an online tool to crowdfund from supporters toward business growth goals. Root Change partnered with The Unity Council to carry out this pilot in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. The Unity Council is a non-profit Social Equity Development Corporation with a 55-year history in the Fruitvale promoting social equity and building vibrant communities where everyone can work, learn, and thrive. They helped to recruit four Latinx-owned businesses in the Fruitvale neighborhood for this pilot. 

We are excited to share with you today the four participating businesses and the recovery projects they have launched on the Mutuality Platform. It takes a mixture of guts and grit to open a business in the US. These entrepreneurs are fighting the odds and employing other hard working people in the community in the process. We encourage you to contribute to their projects on the Mutuality Platform. Each of these businesses are active in their neighborhood and have been helping residents and others in the business community during the Covid-19 crisis. They have all dedicated a portion of their own funds toward their recovery projects. Root Change has offered to match what businesses are able to crowdfund on the Mutuality Platform up to $1,000. By contributing today, you will be helping to rebuild our local economy.

Nena’s Hair Studio is owned by Virginia. She used her savings to start her hair studio in the Fruitvale district of Oakland and has been open for six years. Virginia hopes to use the funds she raises to move to a larger studio space that will help her to expand and recruit other hair stylists. Her salon currently has two stations where stylists can see clients.  The new location would help her expand to eight stations and employ more people. 

Oro Laminado Ismael is owned by Ismael, who started his business in 2014 after working 15 years in a biotech company.  Ismael’s journey as an entrepreneur was not easy, he received little help and few people he could turn to for support.  He plans to use funds he raises to give back to his community, and to partner with other entrepreneurs in the neighborhood to collectively rent a larger retail space where they can all operate and expand their businesses. 

Bakery El Sol is owned by Alejandra and her family. The bakery has been open for 12 years in the Fruitvale, and almost had to close due to the pandemic. Luckily, a relief grant from the federal government helped them to survive. Now, Alejandra has her eyes set on expanding her operations. Alejandra plans to use the funds she raises to buy more showcases for her bakery to be able to sell more delicious Mexican sweet bread and other baked goods. 

Huarache Azteca is owned by Eva Saavedra. The Mexican restaurant has been a pillar of the Fruitvale neighborhood. Eva, the matriarch of her family, started her businesses out of necessity when her husband got sick, selling food after soccer matches to support her family. Twenty years later, Huarache Azteca has become an established restaurant. She plans to use the funds she raises to buy the property her restaurant has been renting. She also hopes to provide open air seating, which would allow to serve more people and hire additional employees.