Building Equity Program
Foodwise is committed to fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) in all aspects of our work. We recognize that farmers markets have a history and reputation for being predominantly white spaces, and that we must actively work to undo systemic racism and create more inclusive farmers markets for all. To better represent the diversity, innovation, and talents of our communities, we are working to bring Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) farmers and food makers to the forefront. One way we do this is by partnering with local community organizations to provide opportunities for Bay Area-based BIPOC entrepreneurs at Foodwise farmers markets.
Foodwise’s Building Equity program offers business development resources and opportunities for BIPOC business owners to market-test and sell their products and build a customer base. The goal of the program is to support business growth, economic viability, and asset-building for BIPOC food entrepreneurs. Foodwise and our community partners are proudly committed to uplifting and advancing equity for BIPOC, immigrant, and limited-resource entrepreneurs across the Bay Area.
Scope of Program
Farmers markets are a low-risk way for new or early-stage entrepreneurs to gain access to sales channels, build their brand, and trial their products and menus without a lot of capital. However, there are still costs involved, from equipment to permitting. To help reduce economic barriers for participating entrepreneurs, Foodwise offers rotating spaces at all of our farmers markets at a reduced stall fee rate. Most entrepreneurs commit to appearing on a monthly or quarterly basis. Additionally, we feature participants at Pop-Ups on the Plaza, a seasonal series of family-friendly events highlighting Black-owned food businesses.
To help set participating business owners up for success, Foodwise and our community partners offer:
- Technical assistance: The Foodwise team provides on-site visits and market stall setup assistance to prepare business owners for their market appearance. In advance of their first market day, Foodwise and our community partners work together to ensure that business owners are informed about all state and local laws, regulations, and market rules, and have all the equipment necessary to participate in the markets. As needed, equipment is also available for participating businesses.
- Financial support: To reduce financial barriers for participating in the farmers market, Foodwise applies for all required health and fire permits and sponsors associated permitting fees for each partner business. Annual application fees ($150 per participating vendor) are also waived, and stall fees are also offered at a reduced rate. Financial support can cost on average $1,200-$1,500 per vendor quarterly, and even more annually in permits and stall fees.
- Marketing and promotion: We offer marketing support by promoting participating businesses in marketing materials and digital channels, such as our weekly e-letter, website, and social media. Foodwise also offers promotional opportunities for businesses at our special events and public cooking demos.
Future Market Opportunities
As space becomes available for longer term placement in Foodwise farmers markets, we prioritize recruiting from the roster of BIPOC entrepreneurs who have participated in the Building Equity program. The following program graduates have been placed at Foodwise farmers markets:
Foodwise is grateful for the partnership and intentionality in working with the following organizations to implement the Building Equity program:
- La Cocina: The mission of La Cocina is to cultivate low-income food entrepreneurs as they formalize and grow their businesses. They support businesses by providing an affordable commercial kitchen space, industry-specific technical assistance, and access to market opportunities. La Cocina is primarily focused on providing resources to women from communities of color and immigrant communities.
- En2action’s Ujamaa Kitchen: The Ujamaa Kitchen Program is a culinary boot camp that provides entrepreneurship guidance, workforce development, and collaborative commercial kitchen space to the Bayview and Black-owned business of the City of San Francisco.
- Mandela Partners: Mandela Partners is a nonprofit organization that works in partnership with Bay Area residents, family farmers, and community-based businesses to improve health, create wealth, and build assets through local food enterprises in limited-resource communities.
- SF Black Wallstreet: SF Black Wallstreet is deeply committed to preserving African American culture and building economic power within the Black community. They strive to create spaces where Black people are welcomed and embraced.