Mandela Partners works with community members and local entrepreneurs to create wealth building solutions to address market gaps in the food system in marginalized neighborhoods. By supporting the launch, growth, and long-term sustainability of locally-owned food-based businesses, we create a pathway for community members to strengthen community food security, and benefit from economic development. 


Mandela Partners' incubation support is rooted in deep investment and long term support, including: planning, project management, alternative business modeling, capital acquisition, training, network development, and other technical assistance.

Businesses currently under incubation: Mandela Produce Distribution, Zella's Soulful Kitchen, and the Ashland Market + Cafe.



supports local, under-resourced farmers by establishing an alternative distribution network that passes on wholesale prices to community retailers and institutions.


60% of the produce purchased by Mandela Produce Distribution comes directly from local family farms with whom we have long-term working relationships. Our partner farmers harvest using sustainable practices on farming lands in Hollister, Watsonville, Castroville, Dinuba, Capay Valley, and Sanger.


Mandela Produce Distribution is actively seeking new clients; if you're interested in supporting family farmers and sourcing sustainably grown fruits and vegetables, please contact



Zella's provides soul-food inspired, locally-sourced breakfast & lunch options in West Oakland. Owned and operated by Dionne Knox, Zella's is a tribute to Dionne's grandmother, who taught her the value of a great meal and the way in which it can unify people. In addition to being a stellar chef, Dionne is a local change-maker with a background in youth and community development. She is committed to good food & developing the skills of local residents - both professional and culinary. Check out what Dionne has to offer inside Mandela Foods, or get your next event catered by Zella's Soulful Kitchen!



The Ashland Market & Cafe is part of a growing effort to increase access to support local entrepreneurship, increase access to healthy food options, and build wealth in unincorporated Alameda County.

The vibrant 2,141 sq ft community market provides space for community entrepreneurs to market and sell food products in a retail environment. Additional, Ashland Market & Cafe vendors will take part in Mandela Partners' business advising program, receive culinary & kitchen consulting, and gain access to low-cost capital.

The inaugural vendor class of the Ashland Market & Cafe includes:

The I AM Cafe

Thank Que Grill

Jacquelynn’s Heart & Soul

AndreaMarie Cakes

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Previously incubated businesses include: Mandela Foods Cooperative.  




opened its doors in 2009 as a worker-owned, full-service retail grocery store in West Oakland, and plays a key role in building a healthy and vibrant West Oakland to the benefit of community residents.


Mandela Foods Cooperative (now Mandela Grocery) & Mandela Partners share a synergistic history - Mandela Partners supported the cooperative's innovative development from a community vision to address lack of access to healthy food, jobs, and wealth building, to a worker-owned business that increases access to healthy food, builds the local economy, and provides business ownership opportunities.

Mandela Foods Cooperative was incubated by Mandela Partners for 9 years, and continues to grow as an independently owned and operated  business anchored in West Oakland.