Pacific Community Ventures has issued $112,500 in “Good Jobs Grants” to 37 California small business owners who worked with the organization to retain their employees and improve job quality even during the last two difficult years. PCV doubled the size of their good jobs rebates this year in order to acknowledge the progress their borrowers have made in improving – and maintaining – dignified good jobs through the pandemic. The grants were made to small business owners who kept their workers employed and made their jobs better and stronger – actually making gains in areas like offering a living wage, health, retirement, and paid leave benefits, and ensuring a healthy workplace with stable schedules.
As a community lender, PCV offers grants in the form of loan rebates – up to $1500 for each element of a good job a small business owner added for their workers. These are entrepreneurs like Fernando Diaz, owner of farm-to-cup coffee company Proyecto Diaz Coffee. Roasting his own coffee beans on a shared roaster, Fernando came to PCV in 2015 in need of his own space and equipment to grow the business and fulfill larger orders. PCV provided Proyecto Diaz with capital from their loan fund and paired Fernando with a free business advisor who helped him secure his current location in San Leandro. In the past six years, Proyecto Diaz has grown from a one-person show (where Fernando wasn’t even paying himself a salary) to an enterprise employing several team members, with retirement benefits and other perks. Fernando’s vision is to bring the Latinx community into every part of the coffee roasting sector, from roasting to marketing to management. “There are people in the community interested in developing skills,” he says. “They can work here, make a career here, but if they want to leave here, I want them to leave with a base of hard skills and soft skills.”
Creating Good Jobs In The Heart Of The Pandemic
When COVID-19 hit in 2020, demand for PCV’s advising and capital grew almost 10,000%, with loan inquiries totaling $172 million. While many banks and CDFIs stopped lending, and while many BIPOC business owners were excluded from Federal recovery programs, PCV kept lending open without interruption, and rapidly responded to their clients by refinancing loans, providing payment deferments and interest-only payment periods. PCV also increased flexibility in their lending criteria such as accepting businesses with only partial revenues and doing away with minimum credit scores to qualify.
“On a small scale, PCV can help small business owners find excellent, dedicated workers by ensuring they’re paying fair wages in a way that’s friendly to their bottom line and makes it easier to hire and retain people,” says Bulbul Gupta, President & CEO of PCV. “Over the last two years we’ve seen and proven that workers are looking for jobs that pay a living wage, offer some basic benefits, provide paid time off, and are safe during these uncertain times, and that employers who provide these things retain employees at higher rates while being a more profitable business long term. Also, our team can help you understand what workers care about, how to provide workers with the benefits they care about, and get you additional resources to create jobs that will grow your business profits.”
The Secret Sauce: Restorative Capital + Free Business Advice
Affordable, flexible financing gives small business owners the means to plan ahead and invest in the growth of their business – including in their employees. As PCV small business client Shani Jones said, “We believe in our employees and training them thoroughly about the catering industry and Jamaican food.” Peaches Patties, Shani’s Jamaican catering company based in San Francisco, originally operated out of Shani’s mom’s kitchen. A $100,000 loan from PCV allowed her to move from a commercial kitchen space into a new production facility and hire new workers.
Beyond simply focusing on creating the most number of jobs, PCV focuses on promoting good jobs that grow and sustain wealth in economically-distressed communities. Their loan agreements include financial incentives for borrowers to implement “good jobs” attributes — the first incentive of this kind in the CDFI industry — while Good Jobs mentors are available through their national BusinessAdvising.org platform to help entrepreneurs advance worker health alongside business health. PCV also hosts an open-access Good Jobs, Good Business toolkit: a resource explaining how good jobs boost revenues in the long-term that includes step-by-step guidance to implement elements of a good job for workers.
Another PCV client, Wanda Rogers of Construction Service Workers, has grown from 2 to 13 employees working with PCV.Doing so earned the business $3,000 in good jobs rebates. “Why are there so many restrictions on credit?,” Wanda asked. “If PCV worked with me, why wouldn’t others? I have a very low-interest SBA loan now because PCV afforded me an opportunity to put pieces in place and hire people, which allowed me to really ensure I was set up to grow and take advantage of contracts as they come up. It made a total difference. I expanded the office through my PCV loan and now we’ve outgrown it.”
Small business owners based in California who need a loan up to $250,000, or free advice on hiring and retaining workers, can learn more here: