The Bay Area’s Flipped Classroom for Small Business Entrepreneurs

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What if there is a better way to teach entrepreneurship to new small business owners? What would it look like? These were the questions we dared to ask ourselves 8 years ago. And since then we keep finding new and better answers for them in an effort to create the best learning for busy women, recent immigrants, veterans and other new small business entrepreneurs in our programs.

When we first started developing the Centro Business Planning App, we knew that we wanted to use it to help improve our entrepreneurship-training program. However, initially, we struggled with the question of how mobile technology could be used in a classroom environment.

Our inspiration came from what was, at the time, a revolutionary approach to education that had been pioneered by the Khan Academy: The Flipped Classroom. The fundamental idea behind the Flipped Classroom methodology is that instead of listening to a lecture in class and doing homework assignments afterwards, students should watch a video of the lecture before coming to class and they should do their homework in the classroom, so that their teacher is actually available to help them when they have questions.

We took our own spin on this amazing idea and designed our app with the idea that entrepreneurs could complete a few app activities before class that would introduce the entrepreneurs to the topic and help them prepare for discussion.

This simple idea gave us a clear understanding of how we could use the Centro Business Planning App to enhance our training program. It was the spark that set off a chain-reaction of discovery and innovation at Centro. Our app is the main student tool used in our Basic Entrepreneurship Program, and right now, an average of 70% of the participants of the program are able to launch their business within 9 weeks of completion. Among them, 82% report an increase in their income and 76% report an increase in their savings.

We are excited to innovate in the classroom and see the impact outside the classroom as these new entrepreneurs experience a boost in their morale and their personal finance. Setting them up for success is what we thrive to do best!
— DJ Healy, Senior Program Manager

Learn More

Seeking Lenders and Assistance Providers for Small Business Owners

As many of you know, the Business Planning App walks small business entrepreneurs through the process of creating a business plan and their financials. Now we're ready to guide these entrepreneurs to the best local business assistance and funding options for their needs.

Despite the myriad options available to entrepreneurs, this is often times a space complicated to navigate for them. We also hope to connect lenders, Microenterprise Development Organizations and any other organization supporting small business entrepreneurs with pre-qualified leads. 


To prepare the launch of this new feature and successfully connect small business entrepreneurs with local business/legal assistance providers and microlenders, we need you to enroll by providing us basic information about your products and services.

Please fill out the enrollment form most fitting for your organization: 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email our Customer Success and Partnership Lead, Estefania Cardona at


This network of support will work best when we reach a critical mass of organizations in the Business Planning App, so please share this with other organizations in the space so that we can include them as an option as well, and send potential entrepreneurs their way.

Revamp Your Entrepreneurship Program and Gain a Partner for Your Mission

The Los Angeles Community Development Corporation, Bethel LA, was one of the first organizations to train in the Centro Entrepreneurship Methodology, and implement our Entrepreneurship Suite.  

Bethel LA began using Centro's entrepreneurship resources in 2015, so they have been true trailblazers and early adopters of our entrepreneurship tools. For us, they are a case-study example of how we are helping others realize their mission, while supporting our goal of empowering small business entrepreneurs everywhere.

To share Bethel LA's experience, we interviewed their Co-founder and Entrepreneurship Program Lead, Frank Stokes. 

We hope these short five questions and answers help you understand what Centro's Entrepreneurship Suite accomplishes for other organizations or independent business coaches who train and work with small business entrepreneurs. 

1. What did your programs look like before implementing the Entrepreneurship Suite? 

In 2014, my colleague Moses McCutcheon Jr Ed.D. and I were working together with West Los Angeles College, providing workforce development programs every year. The programs were eight weeks long and 20 hours per week.

After working together for a while, we decided to collaborate in a bigger capacity and decided to launch the Bethel Los Angeles Community Development Corporation. Shortly after, we realized our programs were too long, and that we wanted something more community oriented. So in order to generate the high impact we were aiming for, we decided to scale down our programs. A year later, conversations with Claudia Viek, former Executive Director of the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO), facilitated our partnership with Centro Community Partners, and that was when we trained on how to implement the curriculum and methodology in Centro’s Entrepreneurship Suite.

In addition to our training, Centro provided Business Plan Bootcamps for our community - altogether, a great experience that helped us adapt Centro’s format to out own programs. Today, we continue to lead four cohorts of small business entrepreneurs every year but in a completely different way.

2. What is your reach in terms of number of entrepreneurs and what efficiencies has the Entrepreneurship Suite provided for you so far?

During its first year, Bethel LA trained 29 entrepreneurs. Three years in, we are close to doubling the number of entrepreneurs we train per year, and we have decrease the cost of training in an 86%. That is something we could have never accomplished alone or in such a short period of time.

3. What is the biggest value you get from using Centro’s Entrepreneurship Suite?

The main value is the simplicity and user-friendliness of the Centro Business Planning App. This alone has helped us serve the community a lot - it particularly helps us get rid of many of the barriers our entrepreneurs face when they have an idea, and want to launch a new business.

I know people who have attempted once, twice, even three times to write a business plan and they have never been able to finish, until now! They often tell me “this is the first time I’ve ever had a real business plan done!”

Also, we were always on the lookout for new ways to introduce new concepts to our program. With the app, we receive updates automatically - which is a huge benefit.

The other great value is how the app connects our entrepreneurs with Kiva loans. This gives extra confidence to our community as they realize there is a real pathway to get access to capital.

4. What is the biggest advantage of using Centro’s entrepreneurship resources?

To be able to help entrepreneurs with business integration, launching, expansion and capital formation - all in one. With Centro’s Entrepreneurship Suite we are seeing our mission come true. It really works!

5. What do entrepreneurs say about your program, now that you are using Centro’s entrepreneurship resources?

Their main comment is: “This is worth a lot more than what I paid!” We are excited that not only entrepreneurs experience the benefits of a streamlined entrepreneurship program that works, but it is also an excellent service that is affordable.

We are really happy to advocate for Centro, the Business Planning App, and the entrepreneurship methodology overall. We feel encouraged with this partnership and we hope to keep doing great things together.

We thank Frank Stokes for his strong partnership. We too hope we keep supporting more small business entrepreneurs together! 


  • An entrepreneurship methodology and compendium of resources created to support aspiring and current small business owners who lack business education or experience. 
  • Designed for business coaches and organizations who lead or want to launch entrepreneurship programs for their constituency.
  • Includes lesson plans supported by the Centro Business Planning App, resources for trainers and learning tools for entrepreneurs. 
  • Available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.

Other organizations who have implemented Centro's Entrepreneurship Suite include Mandela MarketPlace, West Angeles Community Development Corporation, Vermont Slauson, Mi Casa, Inland Empire, GlassRoots, BOCNET, Stockton Impact Corps, and the Mexican Heritage Center & Gallery.

More Programs in More Languages for New Small Business Entrepreneurs

Graduating class of Centro's Basic Entrepreneurship Program in Oakland, CA.

Graduating class of Centro's Basic Entrepreneurship Program in Oakland, CA.

Diversity and inclusion are at the center of equity, and so at Centro, we have made it a priority to bring them to the center of economic prosperity by making entrepreneurship attainable for all.

Our trajectory in this journey is only beginning, but the path we started in 2010 has led us to see and examine the challenging needs of small business entrepreneurs from up close. In response, we have gathered people, partners, hearts and minds, and all the resources available to us to plan, launch and continually enhance the programs we design for underserved small business entrepreneurs near and far.

In the past 12 months, we have run 17 entrepreneurship training programs in three different languages (English, Spanish and Portuguese) across the Bay Area and Stockton. Ten of those programs were aimed at small business entrepreneurs primarily in the idea stage of their business, and who had not been exposed to any formal business education.

So far, our location hubs for these Basic Entrepreneurship Programs and Business Plan Bootcamps are Oakland, Stockton and San Jose - all thanks to the partnership of the Mexican Heritage Center & Gallery, AnewAmerica and San Jose Public Library Works.  

Our partners help power our work, but what empowers us to continue doing it is what our entrepreneurs say:  

Physically we are the same people, but mentally we changed by leaps and bounds. We gained confidence. We started believing in ourselves.
— Madhu Challa, owner of Pretty Pokets and Centro Entrepreneur

This month alone, we launched two more Basic Entrepreneurship Programs, one in Spanish in San Jose, and another one in English in Stockton. And our goal is to complete three more before the end of the year.


If you or someone you know would like to sign up for our next Basic Entrepreneurship Program, you can learn more about it here, and sign up online.

Our next English cohort will meet in Oakland, starting on September 19th, so share widely and apply by Friday, September 14.

All of our program trainers are alumni of Centro's entrepreneurship programs, and successful entrepreneurs themselves. If you have any questions for them, we would be happy to put you in touch before enrolling.


Entrepreneurs who have completed a basic entrepreneurship program at Centro or any other organization are eligible for our follow up, advanced training program. You can learn more about the benefits and enrollment requirements here.

The program is 14-weeks-long and the next cohort begins on September 21st.

We are already accepting applications and interviewing candidates.

Centro is Awarded Innovation Grant by NBC Bay Area

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We’d like to share some great news! We are proud to announce that Centro Community Partners was selected by NBCUniversal Foundation as one of the eight winners of the 2018 Project Innovation Grant Challenge. The NBCUniversal Foundation is granting over $5 million through the next two years to non-profits that are strengthening communities through innovation and technology solutions.


Winning this competitive grant is tremendously exciting, because it is indicative that our work with the Centro Business Planning App is being seen, appreciated and elevated!

Naldo Peliks, Chief Operations Officer at Centro


Grant programs like this help us support our local community of small business entrepreneurs with creativity as we encourage them to re-invent themselves as empowered architects of their own future.

With this newly won grant, Centro will provide entrepreneurship training, mentorship and access to capital through a mobile powered enterprise development ecosystem, available to thousands of minority and women entrepreneurs who want to start or grow a small business. 

We will also be able to reinforce digital inclusion and innovative solutions in our neighborhoods as well as setting trends of civic entrepreneurialism for our rising small business community. This grant is more than an award to our program, it is a celebration of our mission and we are very happy to share this exciting opportunity of growth. 

Fellow 2018 Project Innovation Challenge Winners in the Bay Area

About NBCUniversal Foundation

NBCUniversal Foundation works to advance initiatives at the cross-section of societal needs and NBCUniversal’s priorities. The Foundation supports programs and organizations that strive to move communities forward – with a focus on innovation and technology. NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal is owned by Comcast Corporation.

Why Wait on Your Dream Business? Start With as Little as $60 and Your Wit

Why wait on your dreams? Start a business in 2018! This winter season Centro is offering two 9-Week Basic Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy Training Series in Old Oakland.

What will I gain from the program?

  • Basic business strategy. This means you will create a vision, mission and values for your business, and understand why it is so important. You will also finish the program with a detailed breakdown of your personal and business finance, a market analysis, your value proposition and marketing strategy, and what's required for your operations.

  • A basic business plan and a business plan presentation, so that you can pitch your business to others.

  • A network of Bay Area entrepreneurs just like yourself.

  • Access to a Kiva micro loan that can help you get started right away if you need seed funding.

Basic program details

Choose the 9-week session that works best for you:

  • Session 1 will be on Wednesdays, starting Jan, 31st from 5pm - 8pm. Here is how to register.
  • Session 2 will be on Thursdays, starting Feb. 1st from 5pm - 8pm. Here is how to register.
  • Where: At Centro Community Partners in Old Oakland (825 Washington Street)
  • Cost: A total of $60 only for 9 classes.
  • No business experience or training of any kind required. Come and we'll guide you step-by-step.

Secure your spot today by completing the application corresponding to the session in which you are interested, and submit the initial $20 payment.

More information?

If you have any questions, feel free to contact our Oakland trainer, Hope Lehman, at or (510) 990-0184.

9-week Basic Entrepreneurship Program in Oakland begins August 15

Have you always wanted to start a small business? To offer something unique to others? To play a bigger part in your community? If you are not afraid to work hard for your dreams, join us!

Centro is offering a 9-week Basic Entrepreneurship program in Oakland. Our mission of building communities through thriving businesses is at the heart of the workshop series, as is Centro's Business Planning App.

The coursework will be a guided, step-by-step process to create a business plan through simple and fun activities, in addition to interactive workshops that will help you analyze and develop further the concepts you put in paper. We will also cover Basic Strategy (i.e. vision, mission and values), Personal Finance, Market Analysis, Value Proposition, Operations, Marketing Strategy and Business Finance.

Program Details:

  • 9 consecutive Tuesdays from 5 - 8 pm, beginning August 15
  • Cost: $60 (payment plan offered)
  • Place: The program will take place at Centro Community Partners at 825 Washington Street, Suite 228, Oakland.

For more information about the program and the scholarships available, please email: She will be happy to chat and reserve a spot for you!

Ready to Sign Up?

9-week Basic Entrepreneurship Program in Oakland begins May 16

Have you always wanted to start a small business? To offer something unique to others? To play a bigger part in your community? If you are not afraid to work hard for your dreams, join us!

Centro is offering a 9-week Basic Entrepreneurship program in Oakland. Our mission of building communities through thriving businesses is at the heart of the workshop series, as is Centro's Business Planning App.

The coursework will be a guided, step-by-step process to create a business plan through simple and fun activities, in addition to interactive workshops that will help you analyze and develop further the concepts you put in paper. We will also cover Basic Strategy (i.e. vision, mission and values), Personal Finance, Market Analysis, Value Proposition, Operations, Marketing Strategy and Business Finance.

Program Details:

  • 9 consecutive Tuesdays from 5 - 8 pm, beginning May 16
  • Cost: $90 (Scholarships available for low-income entrepreneurs)
  • Place: The program will take place at Centro Community Partners at 825 Washington Street, Suite 228, Oakland.

For more information about the program and the scholarships available, please email: He will be happy to chat and reserve a spot for you!

Ready to Sign Up?

Free Tax Preparedness Workshop for Small Businesses

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Small business entrepreneurs can encounter many challenges as they plan and run their businesses simultaneously, usually spending most of their time tending to customers and "putting out fires." For months-at-a-time, accounting and tax preparedness can take the "back seat," until they sneak up as an immediate need once a year.

If you are wondering what you should have done throughout the year to make sure you are ready to file your taxes on time, please join us for this free workshop led by Mayfield Accounting. You will not only receive advice on how best to organize in preparation for either working with a tax preparer or using at-home software, but you will also learn a lot about the inner-workings of your business, and feel more confident about making decisions to improve it.


  • Title: Business Tax Basics for Startups
  • Who is this workshop for: All small business entrepreneurs - Centro students, alumni and anyone running a small business who needs help.
  • When: Wednesday, March 15th 2017
  • Time: 5 - 7 pm
  • Place: Centro Community Partners Office in Oakland, CA
  • Free of charge


  • How to meet all the tax compliance requirements for your startup.
  • Pros and cons of each type of business structure.
  • How to navigate and plan for various business related filings, including entity/income returns, sales tax and payroll.
  • What supporting documents you need to maintain to ensure proper preparation of your income tax returns.
  • Strategies on how to organize and manage your documents, and reduce the clutter. 


Please contact Irina Kurtsevaya at to ask any questions you may have or let her know you will attend.


Mayfield Accounting is a small business accounting and consulting firm, dedicated to the development and growth of female-owned businesses. "It is our belief that within every woman lies the power to make the  world a better place, and at Mayfield we deploy the practical application of this belief by using our  knowledge and training to improve the performance of businesswomen." say founders Lindsay Hiken and Joy Pang. 

Lindsay and Joy come from a variety of educational and experiential backgrounds ranging from Big 4 public accounting, to post baccalaureate work in the fields of business administration and accounting, to hands-­on experience as entrepreneurs and small business owners. This diversity allows them to be more than just number crunchers for their clients: they are advisors, confidants, partners...and yeah, they are good at crunching the numbers too!

We're lucky to have Lindsay and Joy lead this workshop for you!

10 Hand-picked Bay Area Small Business Owners Train with Centro this Spring

Last week we welcomed ten determined and inspiring small business entrepreneurs at the spring kick-off session of Centro's advanced business training, the Entrepreneur Readiness Program.

Graduates of this program include Reem Assil, owner of the Arab bakery Reem's; Tiff and Sylvee Esquivel, owners of the vegan food truck, Hella Vegan Eats; Feleciai Favroth, owner of Skincare by Feleciai; among many others. We wish this incoming group of participants as much success and beyond!

We are also pleased to announce the enrollment of our youngest entrepreneur so far. Lindsay Tate is in her 20s and comes to us from Youth Business USA - Oakland's Emerging 100. In addition to this, 90% of the class is comprised of women, many of which are determined to face old and new challenges head-on, and are restarting their businesses.

This class of entrepreneurs is also working in collaboration with a very diverse cohort of students enrolled in our MBA Advisor Program, where we currently have seven nationalities represented: Brazil, Austria, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Turkey and the United States! Now please, meet the businesses in our Spring 2017 Entrepreneur Readiness Program:

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A company dedicated to holistic wellbeing through medicinal herbs in teas, moisturizers, aromatherapy salves, salts, and body scrubs.

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Jasmine is a trusted resource for natural remedies in her community, and now, the creator of a new hangover supplement!

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Marie is an experienced baker, ready to launch her artisan organic and gluten-free bakery and feed the community from within.



A micro-business producing handcrafted salsas and prepared cooking sauces with a Latino flair. Pass the Sauced is all about sharing well made tasty food with other like-minded makers.

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At Dirt Alley Design, I turn city street grids into solvable puzzle mazes and sell the designs as handmade art prints.  I am interested in developing a line of products that combine cartography, data, and art into unique, interactive home decor.

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On-the-go professional hairstyling, makeup and manicure service. Book online and indulge on your birthday or anniversary.

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A baking business providing baked goods made in small batches to ensure the highest level of quality and taste.

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County Fresh is a café featuring grab-n-go items for those with little time, and fresh baked desserts for the rest!

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A cold-press juice delivery service, also offering salads and smoothie bowls. We specialize in capturing the unique taste of ingredients, and making quality products easy to acquire.

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Ethnic Ties supports intercultural communication for interconnected groups through language development, travel services and intercultural consulting.  We provide customized services for individuals and organizations, through digital classes, workshops and trainings.  


If you too have a small business in the Bay Area, and would like to make it bigger and better, check out the requirements for Centro's Entrepreneurship Readiness program. You might be eligible to take part on our next session.


Download the Centro's Business Planning App to re-structure your business plan right on your phone. No experience or special skills required.

New Financial Literacy & Entrepreneurship Programs in Santa Clara County

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AnewAmerica and Centro Community Partners (Centro) have come together to launch a new program addressing the needs of low-income entrepreneurs in Santa Clara County. Together we will offer entrepreneurship and financial literacy workshops geared primarily towards women and minorities, fully funded by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Our main goal is to provide participants with the technical assistance they need to succeed in their businesses, and give them access to the capital and mentorship services they will need to fuel and sustain their own goals. In parallel, we are also aiming to introduce participants to vetted financial products that have proven to be successful in building assets within underserved communities.

In this new partnership, we will be responsible for leading our Basic Entrepreneurship Program in two formats (9-week program and 1-day bootcamps) and reach approximately 120 low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs. Centro will also offer these programs in both English and Spanish.

While Centro will co-facilitate the entrepreneurship training portion of the project with AnewAmerica, our partners will offer their expertise and curriculum for financial fundamentals and introduce participants to fitting financial products such as Kiva USA micro-loans, savings match accounts, peer lending circles and pre-paid debit cards - all catered to help them improve their financial health.

As part of the project, AnewAmerica and Centro will also jointly host a hack-a-thon for small business entrepreneurs and techies to come together and solve business problems using technology.

The training programs are open to any gender, but the majority of the program participants are expected to be low-to-moderate income women and minorities from underserved communities in San Jose.


  • 120 participants in eight nine-week business development and asset building trainings, and four one-day bootcamps, half of them led in English and the other half in Spanish.
  • 100 participants registered to receive on-going and one-on-one coaching from AnewAmerica.
  • 10-20% of the participants accessing at least one financial product, such as a microloan, a matched savings account or a lending circle.
  • 10 participants pitching their idea at a hack-a-thon.


The first 9-week training program will start the second week of March. It will meet weekly on Mondays (in English) and Wednesdays (in Spanish) from 5 - 8 pm at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Library (3rd Floor) in San Jose. The cost is $75 per participant.

Bay Area Latinos Need Entrepreneurship Training in Spanish

Centro's new Spanish-English Bilingual Trainer, Estefania Cardona.

Centro's new Spanish-English Bilingual Trainer, Estefania Cardona.

Latinos are one of Centro's most important constituencies, and in our commitment to serve them, for years we have undergone the slow and humbling process of embedding ourselves in a community that is not entirely our own, but it is also home. This process has yielded many learnings - the most significant one being: culture and language play an irreplaceable role in the self-determination and empowerment of the Latino community.

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As we embrace this unique and beautiful pathway towards the establishment of equity in a multi-cultural society, we announce our new hire, Estefania Cardona. Estefania is our English-Spanish Bilingual Entrepreneurship Trainer, and new Account Manager for Centro's Entrepreneurship Suite. She is originally from Colombia, has a degree in International Business from the Universidad del Rosario in Bogota, and a post-graduate in Creative Intervention from the Colegiatura Colombiana in Medellin. Estefania is also an experienced social entrepreneur, and her work in multicultural environments and interdisciplinary projects in the United States, Colombia, Canada, and England is paramount experience she brings forth to our trainings for the Bay Area's Latino community. 

By offering business education for aspiring and current small business entrepreneurs in Spanish, we make sure we serve the local Latino population in their own terms, and build the road towards equitable access to entrepreneurship.

Estefania will also lead our Entrepreneurship Suite Customer Success project. This means she will support organizations using Centro's Entrepreneurship Suite by helping them, individually, achieve their goals and therefore, create a larger impact in their own communities. With this, we also underline our commitment to offering above-and-beyond value to our partners.

Thank you Estefania for embarking on this journey with us!


The next entrepreneurship training led in Spanish for current and aspiring small business entrepreneurs will take place in San Jose, in partnership with AnewAmerica, The program is 9-weeks and meets every Wednesday from 5 - 8 pm, starting on March 8th.

Start a Business: Sign Up for a Basic 9-Week Entrepreneurship Program in Oakland

Have you always wanted to start a small business? To offer something unique to others? To play a bigger part in your community? If you are not afraid to work hard for your dreams, join us!

Centro is offering a 9-week Basic Entrepreneurship program in Oakland. Our mission of building communities through thriving businesses is at the heart of the workshop series, as is Centro's Business Planning App.

The coursework will be a guided, step-by-step process to create a business plan through simple and fun activities, in addition to interactive workshops that will help you analyze and develop further the concepts you put in paper. We will also cover Basic Strategy (i.e. vision, mission and values), Personal Finance, Market Analysis, Value Proposition, Operations, Marketing Strategy and Business Finance.

Program Details:

  • 9 consecutive Tuesday from 4 - 7 pm, beginning March 7
  • Cost: $90 (Scholarships available for low-income entrepreneurs)
  • Place: The program will take place at Centro Community Partners at 825 Washington Street, Suite 228, Oakland.

For more information about the program and the scholarships available, please email: He will be happy to chat and reserve a spot for you!

Ready to Sign Up?

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.
  • Sessions with trainers and coaches who speak Spanish, so that you can study and plan for your business in your own language.

Basic Details:

  • Sessions in English: Every Monday from March 6th to May 1st.
  • Sessions in Spanish: Every Wednesday from March 8th to May 3rd.
  • 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?

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