Mandela's Business Incubation program 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. We offer a range of technical assistance and services including, but not limited to: planning, project management, alternative business modeling, capital acquisition, training, and business network development.
meet the businesses
Learn about how these businesses got their start, opportunities to support them, and where you can find them in the community.
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.
Current Ashland Market & Cafe vendors include:
Zella's provides soul-food inspired, locally-sourced breakfast & lunch options. Zella's moved from West Oakland to their new spot inside Oak Harvest Kitchen in City Center of downtown 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 Core Ktichen, or get your next event catered by Zella's Soulful Kitchen!
Oak Harvest Kitchen, formerly Core Kitchen, is a produce-forward restaurant and kitchen incubator in Oakland's City Center District. The menu features local, sustainably grown produce, and is free of gluten, soy, added sugar, or processed products. Oak Harvest provides formerly justice involved community members and people with employment barriers training and second chance employment. Program graduates stay on in their kitchen or gain access to opportunities through partner food businesses that are ready to provide dignified job opportunities.
By eating at Oak Harvest, you’re not only nourishing your body, you're supporting a local ecosystem of opportunity.
Mandela Produce Distribution (MPD) 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 that they have long-term working relationships. MPD partners with farmers who 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 MPD at:
previously incubated businesses
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) and 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 nine years, and continues to grow as an independently owned and operated business anchored in West Oakland.