New Business Incubator Program - Available in Spanish

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If you have been wanting to flesh out a business idea but know you need help from someone with experience, this is your opportunity!

AnewAmerica and Centro are offering a business incubator program for aspiring small business entrepreneurs who want to sign up for ongoing coaching. The program includes:

  • 9 weeks of training, using Centro's Business Planning App.
  • One-on-one coaching during and after the training.
  • Access to capital, including matched savings and Kiva micro-loans.
  • Trainers and coaches who speak Spanish, so that you can study and plan for your business in your own language.

Basic Details:

  • When: Every Monday from March 6th to May 1st.
  • Time: From 5 - 8 pm.
  • Where: Meets at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Library (3rd Floor) in San Jose.
  • Cost: $75 for the training plus the cost of ongoing coaching. Scholarships available.


Please contact us anytime. We'd be happy to share more about the curriculum, scholarships and registration details:

  • / 408.326.2669
  • / 510.828.2813

Ready to Register?

Being Community: Our 2016 Celebration & Fundraiser

Ayanna Makalani (left) and Nellie Stokeld (right), two of Centro's 2016 Small Business Owner of the Year. Photo credit: Pavel Fedorov.

Ayanna Makalani (left) and Nellie Stokeld (right), two of Centro's 2016 Small Business Owner of the Year. Photo credit: Pavel Fedorov.

Our 2016 fall party and fundraiser celebrated Centro's first Small Business Owners of the Year: Ayanna Makalani, Owner of Heal Pilates, Nellie Stokeld, Owner and Queen at The Pie Shop, and Reem Assil, Owner of Reem's. We praise their accomplishments as successful small business entrepreneurs, but also as authentic and inspiring women leaders in the Bay Area.

Ayanna Makalani, Owner of Heal Pilates

Ayanna Makalani, Owner of Heal Pilates

Reem Assil, Owner of Reem's

Reem Assil, Owner of Reem's

Nellie Stokeld, Owner and Queen of The Pie Shop

Nellie Stokeld, Owner and Queen of The Pie Shop

The night also honored two colleagues, recipients of our Opportunity and Equity Maker Award: Claudia View, CEO at CAMEO and Trina Villanueva, Director of CSR and Foundation Officer at Union Bank. We feel extremely lucky to count them as allies in our shared work.

Trina Villanueva, Director of CSR and Foundation Officer at Union Bank

Trina Villanueva, Director of CSR and Foundation Officer at Union Bank

Oscar Domínguez, Board Member of CAMEO, accepting the award on behalf of Claudia Viek

Oscar Domínguez, Board Member of CAMEO, accepting the award on behalf of Claudia Viek

We also used the stage to launch the first and only guide to help you shop local and small in the Bay Area from emerging entrepreneurs. We called it Meet the Neighbors, and we can't wait to see it become your trusted go-to place to discover and share new favorite local small businesses.

Thank you to all who braved the weather to support Centro, enjoy the food, the drinks, the company and the incredible music of Salt People. Thank you for being community and your genuine excitement for our mission. 

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Music sponsored by Salt People

Music sponsored by Salt People

Lastly, a shout out to filmmaker and photographer Pavel Fedorov, who captured the fun and the happy for us to share and remember! And our deepest gratitude to our event sponsors:, Port of Oakland, Union Bank and the University of San Francisco School of Management.

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The First and Only Guide to Shop Local and Small in the Bay Area

Photo credit: Pavel Fedorov.

Photo credit: Pavel Fedorov.

For the first time, the Bay Area has a vetted guide to shop local and small from rising creatives, makers and skilled professionals around you. We called it: Meet the Neighbors!

Meet the Neighbors ( is a special project of Centro Community Partners that emerged as a collective of small business entrepreneurs, all of whom have started their businesses in the Bay Area in the last five years, so you always have something new to discover and someone new to support.

Wether you are looking for a good restaurant, a caterer, a lawyer or a new scarf, go to often to discover new choices, meet your neighbors and support our growing home community.

Meet the Neighbors was created in collaboration with other Bay Area non-profit organizations dedicated to economic development and entrepreneurship. Thank you Kiva, Main Street Launch, Working Solutions, Urban Solutions, MEDA and Pacific Community Ventures. We couldn't have gathered this amazing collective of local small businesses without you!

We also want to express our deepest gratitude to the 2016 sponsors of the guide: the Port of Oakland, the University of San Francisco School of Management and Union Bank

Refer a Small Business

Great small businesses emerge all the time. If you want to refer a new shop around you or an independent professional to Meet the Neighbors, let us know!

Seeking Microenterprise Development Organizations in California

Luis Abundis, Owner of Nieves Cinco de Mayo with a client at his ice cream shop in Fruitvale, Oakland.

Luis Abundis, Owner of Nieves Cinco de Mayo with a client at his ice cream shop in Fruitvale, Oakland.

Last month, the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco selected Centro Community Partners (Centro) as one of the 51 economic development projects and housing initiatives recipients of their annual grant program AHEAD.

This grant will support Centro's efforts addressing financial education for underserved communities and small business incubation for low to moderate-income entrepreneurs throughout California.

Our goal is to partner with 15-20 new microenterprise development organizations and together, train 300 entrepreneurs by September of 2016. The project will also help these organizations provide a basic standardized business curriculum to a greater number of entrepreneurs at a lower cost by using the Centro Business Planning App.

This project propels our mission with dedicated funds, and helps us make a difference for individuals, families and entire communities in our home state.

We want to give special thanks to Union Bank for sponsoring us, and look forward to sharing more news as our number of Entrepreneurship Affiliates throughout California grows.

Want to Become an Affiliate and Use Centro's Program?

Please contact Arturo Noriega at if you work for an organization that would like to launch a new microenterprise / small business development program (or revamp an existing one in English or Spanish.

Welcoming the New Class of Advanced Entrepreneurship Students

Every time we start an entrepreneurship program, we welcome a new group of individuals that come with important new challenges for themselves, and we love that! They walk through our doors intrigued and expectant, and more often than not, focusing mostly on the sense of possibility and opportunity costs they now face.

What they fail to notice right away is that their challenges and aspirations become also our own. That we are also intrigued and expectant about what we will accomplish together. And that we too are ready to roll-up our sleeves to take their projects to completion.

And so, with that true sense of partnership, we welcome the 2016 class of Centro's Entrepreneurship Readiness Program. We applaud their creativity, courage and commitment to launching and growing their organizations, and are humbled to work with them and their MBA Advisors side-by-side for the next 14 weeks!

Adam Schwarcz | Oakland Service Course | Oakland, CA

A high-end bicycle shop focused on providing reliable services by qualified and educated mechanics, and catering to enthusiast clients who want their bike projects to be managed efficiently and with consistency.

Katheryn CraytonShay | Thirteen Thousand Hammocks | Oakland, CA

ThirteenThousandHammocks (TTH) will distribute hammocks, install them in workplaces and give a new meaning to ‘power naps.’

Lafreshia Brown | Ardor of Hope | San Leandro, CA

Ardor of Hope will be a transitional housing non-profit program for those leaving prison with a history of substance abuse.

Lee Davidson | Made2Gather | Oakland, CA

Offering cooking classes to businesses to promote team building and encourage individuals to cook more on their own.

Mario Ponce | FunkRock | Oakland, CA

Dance and DJ/Music lessons. 

Nafy Flatley | Teranga | San Francisco, CA

A beverage company that uses the baobab fruit for juice blends, popsicles and shots, and pairs it with other exotic ingredients from Africa and around the world to deliver good, refreshing and enjoyable drinks.

Thressa Pine-Smith | NSFW Shoes | Oakland, CA

NSFW will be an e-commerce business that recreates the staple nude shoe for women of color and include extended sizes.

Manahari Panditharatne | Kalmunai Collective | Sri Lanka

Manahari is Centro's current fellow, and besides working with us, she is taking part of the Entrepreneurship Readiness Program to create a non-profit organization that can teach business skills to women in Sri Lanka looking to export their crafts to the world.

Do you have a small business and need help?

Centro's advanced entrepreneurship program was created for those who have completed a basic entrepreneurship program or similar training, have a portfolio of products or services but still need help developing a business model they can act upon.

We have rolling admissions, so you can apply online anytime and we'll process your application for the next available intake. 


Latinos Learn to Launch or Grow Their Small Business in Spanish

Latinos in the Bay Area now have the opportunity to learn entrepreneurship in their preferred language, thanks to our partnership with The Latina Center in Richmond, and The Unity Council in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland.

Last month alone, 19 aspiring and current latino business owners in our community graduated from Centro's Basic Entrepreneurship Program led in association with these partners and using the Centro's Business Planning App - the first and only app that allows you to plan for a business and become eligible for a micro-loan of up to 10K through

Many of these entrepreneurs are at the foundational stages of their businesses, even if they have been already operating for a while. Our goal is to point out what they are doing so well, and show them how to organize their energy around the areas they can easily improve upon and would make a big difference in the marketplace; says Elena Restrepo, Centro's Spanish Entrepreneurship Trainer & Program Associate.

The completion of the program is a big next step for these rising entrepreneurs. They finish our workshop with newfound inspiration, empowered with new knowledge, ideas, tools and a network of individuals who become supportive of one another in their shared aspirations of economic prosperity.

If you can read Spanish, you don't want to skip these encouraging participant testimonials. We wholeheartedly congratulate them and thank them for reminding us why we work with women, minority and underserved entrepreneurs every day.

Como recién llegamos de Perú, pensábamos que el no saber inglés iba a ser una barrera para capacitarnos y montar nuestro negocio, con Centro nos dimos cuenta que no es así.
— Yvonne Quintanilla
Yo pensaba que sabía mucho, pero cuanto tome el curso, me di cuenta de los errores que estaba cometiendo y cómo podía solucionarlos
— Virginia Castillo, Owner of Nenas Beauty Salon
Empecé el taller por recomendación de mi jefe pues ella lo tomó antes y quería mi opinion sobre el negocio. Ahora no solo aprendí más, sino que quiero montar mi propia empresa
— Gilma Molina from Equinox Event
Le voy a hacer una estatua a la profe en frente de mi negocio por que me salvó la vida con toda la información que nos dió para ser mejores!
— Deisy Alvarado, Owner of Coliseum Furniture Outlet
Yo vine a tomar el curso con mis cuatro hermanas pero todas teníamos ideas diferentes. Después del taller, nos unimos para crear un restaurante Mexicano, pues entendimos que la unión hace la fuerza.
— Mariela Guerrero
Tenia algo de temor con mi idea de negocio por que no sabia si era buena. En el taller pude poner mi producto a prueba y me di cuenta que estoy lista para iniciar!
— María Gurrola from Mary´s Homestyle Pastry

100 Best Non-profit Websites of 2016: Centro Made the Cut!

Our website is meant to be a helpful resource for those we serve and our supporters, so we’re really excited to be included on EveryAction’s 100 Best Nonprofit Websites list for 2016

Check out what they liked about our site, and take a minute to visit us online too. We'd love to hear your feedback as well, and add new features to give you an even better experience! So feel free to contact us anytime at

Lastly, kudos to our Marketing Advisor and Website Designer, Liliana Peliks. She makes everything beautiful, and so easy for us! Don't hesitate to let us know if you want a referral. She also works with small business entrepreneurs! 

More About EveryAction

EveryAction is a Customer Relationship Management leader for non-profits, offering tools for marketing, advocacy, online donations and donor management.

Their unified solutions are designed to help busy non-profit professionals build a supporter base with more automation and expertise. Learn more about them at

The 2016 Drucker Prize Honors Centro

As an organization that works everyday with creative, entrepreneurial and incredibly resourceful individuals, we have experienced first-hand how innovation is the only driver to real transformation - thus we're extremely humbled to be among the 50 semifinalists for the 2016 Drucker Prize

Each year, the prize provides semifinalists with special access to innovation and nonprofit performance education by the Drucker Institute, and awards a $100,000 grant to the nonprofit organization that best meets Drucker’s definition of innovation: “change that creates a new dimension of performance.”  

We're excited to access the online educational material during this phase of the prize, benchmark our current practices, and apply this new knowledge to our programming and future projects.

We also want to congratulate our fellow semifinalists. The cohort was chosen from a 500+ applicants list, so we are very proud and excited to be in your company. The next round of the prize selects 10 finalists on September 12th, and the winner will be announced on September 30th.

Drucker Prize Finalists

September 13th Update - Centro and another nine organizations were selected among 50 semi-finalists and hundreds of applicants. We're truly humbled by this recognition!

Our application has been submitted to a panel of outside judges, who will select the 2016 Drucker Prize winning organization.

We wear our finalist badge deeply inspired by the power of innovation in changing lives! Thank you for this recognition. 

2016 Mid-year Review: Our Work and Impact in Small Business Entrepreneurs

We're excited to share Centro's 2016 mid-year review! These new marks have been possible thanks to the incredible support of our funders, individual donors, volunteers and extended community. Below is an overview of the impact of our training programs for rising new entrepreneurs, and our Business Planning App:  

Basic Entrepreneurship Training Program

  • 2014 launched in the U.S. in English and in Spanish in the Bay Area
  • 2015 launched internationally, currently present in 5 countries
  • 441 graduates in the first 20 months
  • 42% created or sustained at least one job

The Basic Training Program is for individuals in the idea stage and who don’t have any business education or financial literacy. This program is delivered by a trained facilitator using Centro’s Business Planning Mobile App.

Advanced Entrepreneurship Training Program

  • 2010 launched in Oakland, CA
  • 7,000+ volunteer hours by MBA students 
  • 104 graduates, 74% women
  • 100% of graduates who needed capital received microloans
  • $275,000+ in microloans made to graduates
  • $9,614 in average loan size
  • 99% repayment rate

The Advanced Training Program is for those who have completed basic training, have a portfolio of products or services, and still need help to develop a sustainable business model. Entrepreneurs do this mentored by volunteer MBA students.

Business Planning App

  • 2014 launched in English
  • 2015 launched in Spanish, Russian and Portuguese
  • 60% of entrepreneurs are between 21-40 years old
  • 62% of U.S. entrepreneurs make less than $50K/year
  • 53% of entrepreneurs live in California
  • 1,090 business plans completed
  • 16% applied for a microloan
  • 82% reported that they increased their revenue

The Business Planning App was created to help underserved entrepreneurs write their business plans using just their phone. With this app we scale our support for entrepreneurial individuals who lack the education, experience or capital to thrive.

Donate to Support Our Work

100% of all individual donations go to support our entrepreneurs. You can make a one-time gift today, become a sustaining donor with a monthly contribution, or join us a corporate partners. Your financial support is an investment that transcends us - it paves the way for others who need it most, and are willing to work hard to sustain themselves. and Centro Strategize New Go-to Market Initiatives

David Karrasch, Mark Sichel, Mark McKinney, Derek Whipple, Michelle Peterson and Margo Mayes from brainstorming with Arturo Noriega, Founder and Executive Director of Centro Community Partners. 

David Karrasch, Mark Sichel, Mark McKinney, Derek Whipple, Michelle Peterson and Margo Mayes from brainstorming with Arturo Noriega, Founder and Executive Director of Centro Community Partners. 

An entrepreneurship education program that can help just about anyone create a business plan by using a mobile app is a breakthrough solution for an enormous segment of the U.S. population and the developing world who seek to start small businesses to lift themselves out of poverty, and create jobs for others. 

For years, our friends at have understood and supported our standing for economic development through entrepreneurship by providing us great council on how to best use their flagship product. But this time, they have opened up their doors, time and expertise on sales execution to strategize with us new go-to market initiatives for Centro's entrepreneurship training product - ultimately, allowing us to rely less on fundraising efforts and be more self sufficient.

We thank Mark Sichel, Vice-president of Enterprise Sales at, for enabling two pro-bono work sessions with his entire team. Together, we looked at how, where, to whom and for how much to sell our curriculum materials. We went over several new go-to market strategies and further explored the viability of our trainer model. 

To support entrepreneurs in more communities throughout the country, we will:

  • Revise our infrastructure/processes to handle new partnerships and provide them with continued support.
  • Use Salesforce to make data-driven decisions, run reports easier, and create a smooth/streamlined systems for marketing, communications, follow-up, impact evaluation, referrals.
  • Consider partnerships with larger organizations.
  • Possibly create an account manager position.

We do this with the hope that more people will be able to benefit from our services, and more small businesses emerge for the benefit of families, entire communities and economies. 

Thank you Salesforce for sharing your expertise and great-product with us! 

Behind the Business Conference in San Francisco, September 16-17

Cuisine Noir Magazine Presents the Behind The Business Conference 2016 for Small Food Entrepreneurs September 16 – 17 in San Francisco

Starting and running a business takes passion, hard work, patience and a great network. Join us in San Francisco for Cuisine Noir’s first Behind the Business Conference on Friday, September 16 and Saturday, September 17 -  a new space for current and aspiring small business owners.

This conference is especially designed for anyone who is in the culinary, wine/beer/spirits, restaurant/food truck and specialty gourmet foods industries. Whether you are starting or have been running your business for a while, there is always something to learn.

Schedule Overview

The conference kicks-off on Friday, September 16th at 6:30 pm with our Welcome and Networking Reception at The Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco where guests will mingle attendees, panelists and speakers and media.  The evening will also host a meet and greet with this year’s keynote speaker Andre Mack, founder of Mouton Noir Wines, the largest producing black-owned wine label in the country.

Andre Mack, founder of Mouton Noir Wines and keynote speaker at Behind the Business Conference. 

Andre Mack, founder of Mouton Noir Wines and keynote speaker at Behind the Business Conference. 

On Saturday, September 17th we’ll come together at the South San Francisco Conference Center from 8 am – 5 pm for a full day of workshops, and a luncheon that will include a highly anticipated discussion around the opportunities and obstacles securing funding to start, grow and expand one’s small business.

Discounted Registration Available

We have been offered a discounted rate of $70 for the two-day conference for anyone who is part of Centro Community Partners. So, Centro entrepreneurs, current and past MBA advisors, donors, supporters and friends, please contact us at to receive the special registration code. The code will be valid until Sunday, September 11th. 

Questions About the Conference

Please contact Sheree Williams at

We hope to see you there!

Young and Starting a Business: Digital Nest and Centro Work Together

Arturo Noriega, Centro's Founder and Executive Director (far right) with Digital Nest's first group of Centro's Basic Entrepreneurship Program graduates.

Arturo Noriega, Centro's Founder and Executive Director (far right) with Digital Nest's first group of Centro's Basic Entrepreneurship Program graduates.

This summer, we worked with the inspiring team at Digital Nest to deliver the first Centro Basic Entrepreneurship & Financial Literacy Program to youth in Watsonville, CA! We spent eight intense sessions working on new businesses, surely reminding us of the thrust in young people when they are motivated and have the right tools and skills.

We thank Jacob Martínez, Digital Nest's Executive Director, for immediately coming on board and allowing us to reach together to their promising youth leaders through Centro's Business Planning App.

We are passionate about the intersection of small business entrepreneurship, youth leadership and technology, particularly when it connects people with high potential with the resources and support they need to succeed.
— Arturo Noriega, Centro Community Partners

The summer workshop yielded three business plans for:

  • Tech Mobile: An itinerant free wifi provider that offers free computer classes in rural communities.
  • Scholarly: a crowd sourcing scholarship portal for minority college-bound students. This idea was short-listed as a potential project for Paypal's annual hackathon.
  • And last but not least, an Entrepreneurship Institute for Digital Nest, so they can continue training more young entrepreneurs year-round!

We are extremely excited to have worked with such sharp, enthusiastic, creative, young socially-minded problem solvers who are focusing their energy on businesses that directly benefit their communities.  Everyone learned a great deal about business planning, budgeting and prototyping, which was our main goal, but we were far more pleased to see how their families too rejoiced on these accomplishments at graduation.

We also want to thank Winnie Nguyen, Steve Bean and Yethzell Diaz from Digital Nest who helped us make this happen. This workshop couldn't have been possible without you. We look forward to doing more together!  


Get Your Small Business Idea on Paper and Running: Fall Workshop Series

The Mandela Marketplace is presenting a fall workshop series in Castlemont, Oakland specifically designed for new and local small business entrepreneurs. So if you, or someone you know, is ready to turn an idea into a smart business but doesn't have any business knowledge or experience, this might be the right pathway.

The Sustainable Economies Law Center and Centro Community Partners will collaborate with Mandela Marketplace to lead the legal and business coursework, making it a well-rounded offering at a very low-cost.

Basic Details

  • What: 9 workshop sessions covering business entrepreneurship, marketing, finance; food development, safety and handling, and a legal cafe for individual counseling. 
  • Who: For all local aspiring small business entrepreneurs (general and food entrepreneurs.
  • When: From September 7th to November 2nd. One session per week. If you are a food entrepreneur, you are required to attend all 9 sessions, otherwise, you can skip weeks 5-7.
  • How much: Sliding scale and 1:1 match. What does that mean? Contribute anything from $25-$100, and if you have minimum attendance, at the end of the workshop series, you will be given back $50-$200 you can use on your business.
  • Where: 8711 McArthur Boulevard, Oakland CA.

More Information and How to Sign Up

Please contact Mariela Uribe at (510) 208-1223.

We look forward to seeing you there! 

Centro Completes Mentorship Program by Global Social Benefit Institute

Naldo Peliks, Centro Community Partners Chief Operations Officer and Michael Wray, Mentor at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Santa Clara University.

Naldo Peliks, Centro Community Partners Chief Operations Officer and Michael Wray, Mentor at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Santa Clara University.

Last winter, we were extremely humbled to have been the only US-based organization selected by the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) to take part in their 2016 online incubator program for social enterprises. Today, we are proud and energized by the outcomes of this truly one-of-a-kind mentorship program.

As an organization dedicated to entrepreneurship development in underserved communities, we spend a lot of time working on other people's business plans. The GSBI program has allowed us to reverse the roles and be mentees at a new phase of our organizational growth. 

We spent the last six months revisiting our own business model and our plans to escalate the reach of our work with small business entrepreneurs. We are so grateful for our mentors Michael Wray and Doug Wheeler who always asked us the right questions at the right time. Thank you for your expertise, consistent presence and guidance.


I have worked very closely with Arturo Noriega and his executive team at Centro Community Partners during the past six months as part of the Santa Clara University GSBI Online Incubator Program. During this time, Arturo worked closely with another mentor and me to continue to develop a business strategy and plan to expand his social entrepreneurship model and to work towards more private financing.

At all times, I was extremely impressed by his business model, their mission statement and the willingness of Arturo and his team to continue to explore new business opportunities, streamlined processes and financing ventures. Centro Community Partners has already displayed great success, and I am confident that they will continue on a path of continued success.
— Doug Wheeler

The completion of this program is a milestone in itself for Centro Community Partners as we develop and move forward with new go-to-market strategies for our entrepreneurship programming. We now also have under our belts a powerful pitch deck with which we can share our story, and our theory of change for economic development with potential funders.

Congratulations, Arturo, on graduating from the the Santa Clara University Miller Center Social Entrepreneur On-Line Program. During the three month intensive program Arturo and his team refined Centro’s strategy, business plan and financial forecast, and positioned the Company for investment and expansion.

The concept is solid and the team is awesome!
— Michael Wray

Thanks again to the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship for this incredible opportunity to feel challenged and inspired once more by our mission. We are thrilled to join the family of GSBI alumni!

New Partnership with Urban Solutions Supporting SF Small Business Owners

Irina Kurtsevaya, Centro Community Partners Entrepreneurship Trainer at Urban Solutions.

Irina Kurtsevaya, Centro Community Partners Entrepreneurship Trainer at Urban Solutions.

Writing a business plan should be high up on the to-do list of any entrepreneur interested in getting a loan, signing a new lease or hiring an employee, but in many cases, the task can still seem an unconquerable challenge for too many small business owners. At Centro Community Partners (Centro) we know this too well, and so do our new partners at Urban Solutions. That's why we have combined our strengths to provide more current and aspiring small business owners with the best tools and guidance to launch and grow their ventures putting the right foot forward.

Urban Solutions focus is to strengthen underserved San Francisco neighborhoods by supporting small businesses, job creation, diversity and sustainability. They are a recognized provider of small business support and training, and an advocate for balanced and thoughtful neighborhood economic development.

Susie McKinnon, Director of Neighborhood Services at Urban Solutions tells us how Centro's Business Planning App and Basic Entrepreneurship Program further enhances the outcomes of the ample support system they already offer to SF small business owners:

"Our core services include real estate, leasing assistance, loan packaging and individualized small business consulting. In most instances during the process of any of Urban Solutions consultations and services, a consistent necessity for clients turns towards the need for the development of a basic business plan.  Urban Solutions supports specific clients to a certain extent to help them develop their plans – especially during the timeliness of executing a lease or a loan. However, our staff does not usually have the time to offer comprehensive training on all the components involved with the development of a well vetted business plan from client to client.

We are happy to say that this particular predicament changed in the spring time of 2016 for Urban Solutions and our clients moving forward. Learning of the Centro Business Planning app and partnering up with the amicable staff at Centro Community Partners will allow us to offer a tremendous and free resource to budding and established entrepreneurs in San Francisco for the years to come."

In April of 2016, Centro Community Partners conducted a 9-week Basic Entrepreneur Course which Urban Solutions coordinated and helped to facilitate at a local co-working space. Approximately 25 individuals signed up and there were a core 15-18 that participated in a majority of the classes. Each class built off the next and guided the student entrepreneurs through the steps and content needed to build an individualized business plan. Most of the content and information is derived through an easy-to-use app developed by Centro that walks individuals through activities that help them plug in information that will be added to their business plans.

At the final session, each student was given a printout draft of their business plan and was offered a few minutes to present their business concepts, next steps to moving toward their goals and how the class and program helped them progress forward.

Susie adds:

"This was a great learning experience for not only the students but also for the Urban Solutions staff. We’re now better equipped to offer easy-to-use resources to entrepreneurs and help them develop their business plans. The students of this initial cohort now have a foundational understanding of how to build their businesses and work through the details to best establish what is needed to accomplish their goals.

Progressively through the classes and particularly at the final session, most students displayed greater confidence than when they first started. Most expressed new found energy and excitement towards understanding what tools and steps are needed to advance their businesses. Thank you, Centro Community Partners!"

Urban Solutions will continue to offer Centro's Basic Entrepreneurship Program and plans to hold another session next year!

We’re excited to offer this service to San Francisco and grateful for the dedication and expert knowledge of the community offered by Urban Solutions.

Please check Urban Solutions' website for all their upcoming trainings.

A New Authentic Arab Bakery in Oakland: Kickstarter Campaign

Reem Assil is a recent alumn of our Entrepreneur Readiness Program and she is the real deal when it comes to Arab street food. She hella loves her homeland and we love her back for sharing it with us in the Bay Area.

Up until now, Reem's has been catering and serving at farmer's markets, but she is now ready to open up her dream brick-and-mortar Arab bakery, right here, in Oakland!

We are creating a restaurant and home to connect people across cultures & generations through the warmth of Arab bread and hospitality
— Reem Assil

Please Support Reem's Kickstarter Campaign

Reem's combines the distinctive flavors, aromas, and techniques of the modern Arab street corner bakery with the freshness of California cuisine, made with love!

Reem is also a finalist at the Open for Business contest by OpenTable, so she must out-fund her fellow finalists and secure a minimum of $35,000 in order to receive an additional $15,000 from OpenTable. 

With as little as $10, $25 or $50, we can help her get there and bring a space of connection and Arab food to town!

Vodafone Americas Foundation Supports Technology for Small Businesses Entrepreneurs

Vodafone, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies is advancing social change at a global scale by supporting partners using technology to resolve shared problems, improve lives and transform entire communities.

We are thrilled to announce that the Vodafone Americas Foundation has endorsed our approach to socioeconomic change through entrepreneurship for all with our first multi-year grant.

Centro originally applied for the Vodafone Wireless Innovation Project competition in February 2016, and while our application was not selected, they felt we might be more suitable for their partnership programs so we were invited to meet and discuss possible grant opportunities. We want to give special thanks to June Sugiyama, Director of Vodafone Americas Foundation for inviting us to introduce our organization firsthand and providing the grant to help us  continue our mobile development work supporting small business entrepreneurs. 

Centro will use the $100,000 grant for programming focused on supporting the growth of low-to-moderate income youth, women and minority owned micro enterprises, and the development and engineering of our Business Planning App, which is the foundation of our Basic Entrepreneurship Education Suite. More specifically, we will use the funds to:

  • Facilitate access to capital: We will design functionality that will help entrepreneurs understand their capital needs, improve their credit, create robust business plans and increase savings to successfully access micro-loans.

  • Improve data collection: We will develop features within the app to capture valuable data points such as age, gender, location, income level and education that will help us learn more about our app users. In order to further improve the effectiveness of the app and provide impact details to partners and funders, we also plan to start measuring data in the following areas: demographics, economics, social, psychological, general e-learning.

  • Develop new mobile app activities: We are engineering new app activities that will be added to our Business Planning Tool including financial projections and marketing.

We’re excited to count Vodafone Americas Foundation among our list of stewards. We are deeply grateful for their support of our vision, and the next steps they will enable us to take in the years to come.

We're Giving Away Squares to Process Credit Cards On-the-Go


Square has generously donated 50 credit card readers for Centro's small business entrepreneurs, and we are giving them away starting now!

Ask for your reader as soon as possible by emailing us at with the subject line: "My Square Credit Card Reader."

Run your business with ease and grow faster by processing credit cards anywhere with Square. Visit their website to learn about their fee per transaction, and other Square products that can help your business succeed faster.

*We are giving away up to two credit card readers per business. And if you are no longer in the Bay Area, let us know and we'll put it in the mail for you. 

Supporting a 50-year Family Tradition: Food with Integrity and Love

Nellie and her father, Chris Stokeld.

Nellie and her father, Chris Stokeld.

We're extremely excited to rally support for Nellie Stokeld from The Pie Shop. Her family has produced handcrafted, savory British pub fare and tea-themed treats in Oakland, Ca for decades. A couple of years ago, Nellie completed Centro's advanced entrepreneurship training program and she is now carrying the tradition of the Stokeld family business with great craft and pride. 

Please help us support Nellie by lending her $25 or more through

The Stokeld's at a 2013 pop-up in Oakland, CA.

The Stokeld's at a 2013 pop-up in Oakland, CA.

The Pie Shop | Authentic British Pies, Pasties, Teas & Treats

The Pie Shop is a second generation offering from the Stokeld family beginning with Chris Stokeld, an immigrant hailing from North Yorkshire in England. Fifty years later, the emphasis of our shop is still on whole food, made with integrity and served with love.

Purpose of the loan: To hire a new employee, purchase new equipment, and improve online retail services.

***Current status: loan fully funded.


If you’d like to start or grow a small business with a free loan, download Centro's Business Planning App on your phone. Once all the activities in the app are completed, request Centro's endorsement for a Kiva loan right there on the app.

We are Kiva's top 10 Trustee for 2015 and we'd love to help you!

Put Your MBA Knowledge to Work, Gain Experience & Make a Difference

Are you an MBA student wanting to accumulate real-world business experience?

Centro is accepting applications for the Fall 2016 intake of its MBA Advisor Program - an accelerated program designed to train MBA students to become small business consultants.

We will match you with a rising small business owner enrolled in Centro's Entrepreneur Readiness Program and in working together to build his business, over a 14-week period you will gain practical experience in:

  • Management consulting
  • Small business finance
  • Credit analysis
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication skills
  • Professional coaching

The MBA Advisor Program provides participants with an invaluable opportunity to directly apply what they learn in school towards helping local, talented, small business entrepreneurs to develop their business plan while accumulating hands-on experience.

Interested? Apply online today.

Criteria for MBA Student Advisors

  • 1-3 years professional work experience
  • Proven team player with strong communication and collaboration skills
  • Committed to learning and self-improvement
  • Ability to commit between 5-10 hours per week during the program

Program Duration
From September 16 through December 16, 2016.

Interview Period & Deadline

  • Interviews start in August
  • Final selection: Friday, Sept 5th, 2016

Interview Format
One-hour behavior interview, including a business case study interview.

Inquiry Contact
Please email Irina Kurtsevaya at

More Information

Learn more about the structure, methodology, benefits and requirements to participate in the MBA Advisor Program. And view the roadmap MBA Student Advisors use to guide their small business entrepreneurs.