Rising Tide Capital lifts underserved entrepreneurs

As a college student working in Rwanda, Alfa Demmellash saw firsthand the role that poverty plays in fueling conflict. She returned to the United States to focus on economic empowerment and in 2004 co-founded Rising Tide Capital (RTC), a nonprofit microbusiness development organization that supports low-income entrepreneurs in Northern New Jersey. RTC’s vision is to provide services that can be replicated by other urban communities, sparking social and economic transformation.

In 2014, RTC’s 10-year anniversary, the organization graduated its thousandth entrepreneur from the 12-week Community Business Academy (CBA). Entrepreneurs and small business owners who attend the Academy gain hands-on training in business planning, management, budgeting, marketing, bookkeeping and financing. Graduates receive ongoing support from RTC to take their businesses to the next level.

There are over 680 Rising Tide Entrepreneurs operating businesses throughout Northern New Jersey, and many others in the planning stages. Within two years of graduating, entrepreneurs experience an average 64% increase in business revenue and 47% increase in household income. RTC operates programs in English and Spanish in five cities in Essex and Hudson Counties – Jersey City, Newark, Union City, Elizabeth, and Orange Township.

RTC is precisely the kind of innovative, forward-looking organization that helps to make communities better, and for that reason were chosen as a Bank of America Neighborhood Builder in 2014. The Neighborhood Builder program comes with an unrestricted $200,000 grant and leadership training. “Bank of America was our first funding partner in 2006 and their investment in our work has made all the difference,” said Demmellash. “We are truly grateful for their belief in our mission and investment for our future.”

Rising Tide Capital used the grant to build a new information management system that expanded its footprint in New Jersey. Through this system, the organization developed dynamic programming for underserved entrepreneurs, helping even more people to achieve their dream of starting and growing a business.


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