Santander Bank’s Cultivate Small Business program is designed to help early-stage entrepreneurs in low-income neighborhoods build and sustain their businesses, with a focus on women-, minority- and immigrant-owned businesses in food-related industries. The program provides industry specific education, networks and mentoring as well as small capital grants for business owners.
ICIC is one of Santander Bank’s three strategic partners in this initiative, which also include CommonWealth Kitchen, and Babson College. The fully-funded program began in October 2017 with an inaugural group of 20 entrepreneurs working in food-related businesses, which include processing, technology, manufacturing and food service companies. The Cultivate Small Business program is now in it’s third cohort in Boston.
Food-related businesses were chosen for the program focus due to the diversity, size and number of small businesses within the category. ICIC research shows that when cities have “clusters” of related industries, their economies are associated with greater growth in business numbers, job creation, wages and innovation. The food cluster in Greater Boston is poised for growth and already represents a greater share of employment than exists in other cities.
By connecting early stage entrepreneurs in the same related business sector, this initiative will address the education and mentoring needs of program participants with a customized model over the program’s five-month period from December through April.