99 Degrees Custom is a light manufacturing company specializing in customized clothing and textile production. Based in Lawrence, 99 Degrees Custom seeks to grow good manufacturing jobs in a region once known for its thriving industrial economy. Having made an initial loan to 99 Degrees Custom in 2014 to help secure a major contract, BII provided a second loan to support business growth.
Advoqt designs and implements vendor-agnostic IT services. They aim to become one of the country’s largest minority-owned companies and are focused on creating career opportunities for individuals from underserved communities. BII provided a convertible debt investment to support implementation of key growth strategies.
CERO, Cooperative Energy Recycling and Organics, is a worker-owned cooperative that collects waste from local businesses. CERO increases reclamation and sale of clean paper, plastics, metals, waste vegetable oil and organic food waste, reducing customer trash by 50 percent or more. This is now our third investment in CERO: in 2013, we partnered with Cooperative Fund of New England to provide an early-stage loan to help get CERO started; in 2014 we purchased CERO’s Direct Public Offering shares; and now in 2016 we’ve made an additional loan for working capital and equipment.
Co-op Power works as a network of community energy cooperatives across Massachusetts, Southern Vermont and Rhode Island. Co-op Power is focused on creating a consumer-owned sustainable energy cooperative operating within a regional network, promoting a multi-class, multi-racial movement for a sustainable and just energy future. BII provided a bridge loan to support some immediate cash needs.
Wellspring Harvest is part of Wellspring Cooperative, a community-based cooperative development organization with a mission to create a network of worker-owned companies in Springfield, MA, that provide on-the-job training, employment and wealth-creation opportunities for low income and unemployed residents of the city. BII purchased Direct Public Offering shares to help support Wellspring Harvest in building the first commercial greenhouse in Springfield.
We welcome our summer interns Chris Kim, Claudia Wong and Katie Schlager. Chris and Claudia are pursuing Bachelors of Science in Management at Boston College. They are interning with BII through the Corcoran Center for Real Estate and Urban Action at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. Katie is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Science, Technology and Society at University of Pennsylvania. Their projects include development of a social impact handbook, pipeline and market research, and portfolio company support. Thank you for your curiosity, commitment and great work!
Congratulations BII Senior Advisor Aaron Tanaka, founder of Center for Economic Democracy, for being selected as a 2016 Echoing Green Global Fellow!
“Aaron Tanaka is a Boston-based community organizer, grantmaker, and impact investor. As the director of the Center for Economic Democracy, Aaron stewards funding and technical assistance to grassroots groups that build power and vision in low-income communities of color for a new economy. As the startup managing director for the Boston Impact Initiative (BII), Aaron helped create Boston’s first local impact fund, directing loans and private equity investments toward Boston’s growing localist economy. Until 2012, Aaron was co-founder and executive director of the Boston Workers Alliance (BWA). From 2010 to 2012, Aaron served as a special commissioner appointed by the governor to advise on equitable job creation strategies for Massachusetts. He is a former Green For All Fellow, a current Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Fellow, and a visiting practitioner at Tufts University, and he is co-chair of the Asian American Resource Workshop and the national New Economy Coalition. Aaron holds a BA from Harvard University and an MS in community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University.”
Victoria Amador of Tremendous Maid is seeking to reverse her industry’s exploitative labor practices by paying her cleaning workers—mostly low income and immigrant women—a fair wage and full benefits. Diane Ivey is changing the face of textiles by manufacturing hip, urban-inspired yarns through Lady Dye Yarns. And the Dorchester Food Co-op is inviting neighbors to come together as owners and investors to launch a healthy, locally sourced grocery store.
What we’re learning from our entrepreneurs is that it is possible to be economic trailblazers. The companies we invest in are willing to challenge the status quo, to question assumptions and to courageously experiment with new ideas and models in order to build businesses that have meaningful and lasting impacts on the people and communities they serve. But it isn’t easy. If we want to create real prosperity for communities that have been excluded from economic opportunity, then we have to strengthen the networks of support around these entrepreneurs.
That’s why we’re committed to investing in incubators and accelerators like Commonwealth Kitchen and Smarter in the City. It’s why we believe in rebuilding social networks and grassroots organizing through the Solidarity Economy Initiative. And it’s why we think it’s critical to have a dream of what our economy could be—and a practice for finding our way there —through the Ujima Project.
The Boston Impact Initiative is not just an investment fund. We are organizers, field-builders, entrepreneurs, capital partners and friends alongside all of you who work so hard to address the growing wealth gap and ecological challenges of our community.
As we celebrate our 2015 achievements, we look forward to growing a more vibrant and powerful local economy movement in Boston and beyond.
Deborah Frieze, Founding Partner
Theodat Insurance was the first Haitian insurance agency in Boston and for 38 years built a profitable relationship-centered insurance agency in Dorchester. The founder is passing his business on to his daughter, Marie-Armel Theodat, who has the opportunity to acquire clients from All State and form the new All Towns Insurance. Boston Impact Initiative provided Marie-Armel with a loan to help her acquire this book of business and keep ownership and employment in her community.
Chocolate Therapy is a Black-owned chocolate shop dedicated to providing customers with locally produced chocolates in innovative flavors, including a special handmade collection. Through the dark chocolate superfood, Chocolate Therapy treats the body and soul. Boston Impact Initiative provided a loan to help Chocolate Therapy to reconfigure their Framingham location to maximize production. Learn more
City Feed and Supply is a neighborhood market/café/deli that reflects and serves the needs of the community that sustains it. City Feed seeks to have a positive influence on its community of customers, employees and suppliers through healthy food, enjoyable and competitively compensated jobs and strong relationships with local suppliers. The Boston Impact Initiative provided a second loan to City Feed for new equipment and server and technology upgrades. Learn more
Green City Growers transforms unused space into thriving urban farms, providing clients with immediate access to nutritious food in Boston and New England. The Boston Impact Initiative provided a loan for infrastructure investment to enable Green City Growers’ plans for growing their business. Learn more
M.S. Peltier Insurance is a Black-owned business with expertise in construction, marine, real estate, and transportation industries. It plans to grow its workforce, which it aims to be comprised by at least 50% employees of color within a year. M.S. Peltier Insurance is committed to Dorchester and Caribbean communities. Boston Impact Initiative provided a loan to support business acquisition and establishment.
Tremendous Maid is a family-owned and operated residential and commercial cleaning business based in Dorchester. Dominican co-founders Rosa Tejeda, Victoria Amador and Nisaury Amador are intentional about hiring workers who are disadvantaged and have received accolades for their businesses’ impact in low-income neighborhoods. Tremendous Maid was ranked best maid service in 2013 by the prestigious Boston Magazine. The Boston Impact Initiative provided a growth capital loan to stabilize financing and expand services. Learn more
The Boston Impact Initiative is excited to introduce Xau Ying Ly as the newest member of the staff team. Xau Ying Ly is a first generation Chinese-Vietnamese American from Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to joining BII, she was one of the developers of the City of Richmond’s progressive program for environmental justice, health equity, and anchor-based economic development in California. She is interested in community wealth building through economic democracy models, and has experience with local government, social enterprise, and not-for-profit groups. Xau Ying recently completed a Master in Urban Planning degree at MIT. She is active in Asian American, women’s, and LGBT advocacy. She speaks Brazilian Portuguese and Cantonese.
The Dorchester Community Food Co-op is an initiative to build a community & worker-owned cooperative market that provides economic opportunity and healthy affordable food. The Co-op will be a community asset, providing space for education and cultural activities, and will be a dynamic center for healthy eating and sustainable living that celebrates the rich diversity of Dorchester. The Boston Impact Initiative provided grant funding to support the completion of a feasibility study. Learn more
FCBL is a coworking space that brings together entrepreneurs, small businesses and community development organizations to advance one of Dorchester’s most promising business districts. With easy access to the Red Line and affordable, flexible membership options, FCBL is focused on creating a productive, healthy and synergistic environment for its entrepreneurs and the Fields Corner community. Boston Impact Initiative provided a grant to FCBL to sponsor free office space for a Dorchester based, social entrepreneur of color. Learn more
Jubali is a brand embodying the desire to transform through vitality. They believe that food is a crucial element of the more beautiful world in which we want to live and which we are working to create — a world of vibrantly healthy people living on an ecologically thriving planet. Jubali’s goal is to make the healthiest, most delicious food and drinks they can while making a positive social and environmental impact. They started out as a couple of guys renting out a local café’s kitchen when it closed for the day and quickly grew from there. There mantra is: Our food links our personal health to the kinds of ecosystems we support. Through our social-impact campaigns, Jubali gives you the opportunity to nourish your body and your world. Learn more
Lady Dye Yarns
Lady Dye Yarns is an eco-friendly yarn business that creates vibrant and colorful hand-painted yarns and accessories that are inspired by street art and city living. Lady Dye Yarns unique designs and colorways draw inspiration from contemporary, urban culture and street art. The Boston Impact Initiative provided an early loan to help scale national marketing and sales. Learn more
Salamander’s Café will open later this year on River St. in Hyde Park. This cozy café will serve gourmet coffees, espresso, lattes, and smoothies. Pastries, baked in-house and at a local bakery, will vary seasonally and breakfast and lunch will be served everyday. Boston Impact initiative provided a loan to help the cafe relocate from East Boston to its new location. Learn more
Smarter in the City
Smarter in the City is the first high tech startup business accelerator in Roxbury. At the center in Dudley Square, SITC supports local entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities in the tech sector to advance their technology-focused businesses. Boston Impact Initiative provided early stage operating grants to help SITC serve local tech entrepreneurs of color. Learn more
The Boston Impact Initiative is excited to introduce you to Glynn Lloyd, the newest member of our team. As the founder and former CEO of City Fresh Foods, Glynn brings over 20 years of entrepreneurship, leadership and business acumen to his role as the Managing Director of our fund. He has a deep commitment to building wealth in Boston’s urban communities through enterprise development that is rooted locally and is ecologically sustainable.
As we welcome Glynn, Aaron Tanaka will be transitioning from the day-to-day management of our fund to developing a new initiative that advances the Boston Impact Initiative’s research and development, thought leadership and field-building activities. You’ll be hearing more about his plans for the BII Institute later this summer.
Meantime, we’d like to remind you that our fund is open for business! The Boston Impact Initiative continues to support strong, local entrepreneurs seeking capital to expand their businesses. Entrepreneurs can go to the Contact Us page where they can begin by filling out the “Tell Us About Your Business” form. We look forward to connecting soon. For further questions or referrals, please reach out to Glynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.Warmly, Deborah Frieze