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 cofounded Rising Tide Capital (RTC), a nonprofit microbusiness-development organization that supports low-income entrepreneurs in New Jersey. RTC’s vision is to provide services that can be replicated by other urban communities, sparking social and economic transformation.

Since launching in 2006, RTC has graduated over 2,100 participants from its 12-week Community Business Academy. Entrepreneurs and small-business owners who attend the academy gain hands-on training in business planning, management, budgeting, marketing, bookkeeping and financing. Graduates then receive ongoing support from RTC to take their businesses to the next level. These programs have had significant impact in low-income communities: within two years of graduating, RTC entrepreneurs experience on average a 112% increase in business revenue and a 58% increase in household income.

Bank of America was our first funding partner in 2006, and their investment in our work has made all the difference. We are truly grateful for their belief in our mission and investment for our future.

Alfa Demmellash
Rising Tide Capital

RTC operates programs in six N.J. cities: Jersey City, Newark, Orange, Elizabeth, West New York and New Brunswick. In recent years, RTC has developed and implemented new pilot initiatives to provide entrepreneurs with enhanced support, such as credit counseling services, accelerated coaching services for high-growth entrepreneurs, sales training courses, marketing and branding workshops, a plan and pitch competition, and a 90-day action plan program. These initiatives have been integrated into RTC’s program offerings and have helped to drive significant increases in program scale and impact: in 2017 alone, RTC entrepreneurs created 426 new jobs.

Outcomes like these, made possible through projects supported by Bank of America, have generated significant publicity for RTC. The organization was selected for CNN Heroes and was recognized by President Obama at the White House. Ms. Demmellash was named by Forbes as one of the Most Powerful Women Changing the World with Philanthropy.

RTC is now focused on deepening its work in new communities and leveraging its expansion to generate increased impact. In 2019, RTC will formally launch a new operating division dedicated to innovation and licensed replication of its program model. In a wonderful coincidence, one of the top candidates for RTC’s first cohort of cities is Charlotte, N.C., home to Bank of America headquarters. “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.”

5/22/17

 

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