California FreshWorks to Bring First Full-Service Grocery Store to West Oakland

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California FreshWorks to Bring First Full-Service Grocery Store to West Oakland


The California FreshWorks Fund (CFWF), administered by NCB Capital Impact, awarded a $25,000 grant to People's Community Market (PCM) to create a full-service, fresh food grocery store in West Oakland, a neighborhood that has been without a major healthy food retailer for years.

PCM's market will serve a community of more than 20,000 people and create about 35 new jobs, 20 full-time and 15 part-time. "The funding support from the California FreshWorks Fund is helping us to develop a unique community financing framework that will not only catalyze the creation of People's Community Market, but demonstrate a way that independent grocers can begin to engage their customers and communities well before they even open their stores," said Brahm Ahmadi, CEO of People's Community Market. "The grant is important early-stage funding that will help open numerous doors that would otherwise have been closed."

This grant is the first made by CFWF since its 2011 launch. In the coming months, the CFWF is poised to make several investments in fresh food retail projects throughout California communities with limited access to healthy food retailers.

As one of the first investments in the PCM project, the CFWF grant will be used to support a Direct Public Offering to raise at least $500,000 in equity for the market, and open the door to additional equity from larger investors, as well as debt sources. This innovative approach to raising equity capital allows the company to seek equity investments from middle-class people. Raising the initial capital positions the company to also approach larger investors to raise the $3 million needed to build the proposed 12,000-square foot market that will emphasize fresh and healthy foods, particularly produce, dairy and healthy prepared meals.

The CFWF grant is provided through a grant pool funded by Kaiser Permanente and The California Endowment. PCM has also received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the CEO has received a Food & Community Fellowship through the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy that is funded by the Kellogg Foundation.

"Providing more access to healthy, affordable food is a tangible way to help address the critical issue of obesity and the associated chronic health conditions," said Yvette Radford, Kaiser Permanente's regional VP, external and community affairs, Northern California. "We are proud to invest in California FreshWorks to support new ventures that will help bring wholesome food to people living in underserved communities."

The California FreshWorks fund is a loan and grant fund that has raised $264 million to invest in bringing grocery stores and other forms of healthy food retailers to underserved communities. NCB Capital Impact is working with The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, and other partners to provide grants and flexible financing solutions that successfully expand access to healthy, fresh foods for underserved communities in California.

"People's Community Market is the essence of what FreshWorks Fund is about," commented Scott Sporte, Chief Lending Officer, NCB Capital Impact, the organization managing the fund. "With over a decade working on food access issues in West Oakland, they developed the concept for a store focused on fresh foods based on the successful work of its sister organization together with deep knowledge of local community.”

California FreshWorks Fund partners include: The California Endowment, NCB Capital Impact, NCB, Unified Grocers, California Grocers Association, Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), Calvert Foundation, Social Compact, Emerging Markets, PolicyLink, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Community Health Councils, Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles and most recently Met Life, Citibank, Opportunity Finance Network, and Charles Schwab Bank.

People's Community Market (PCM) is a startup business building on the 10 years of experience of its sister organization, People's Grocery (a non-profit that has run a variety of food projects including the Mobile Market and the Grub Box), to open a full-service grocery store in West Oakland that supports the health and well-being of local families. PCM will cater to the cultural preferences of the community and make it easy for residents to buy quality fresh, prepared and ethnic foods at affordable prices in their own neighborhood. The retail store will offer positive social experiences and events in a courtyard setting and partner with community and health organizations to offer its customers various in-store educational programs and health support services.