A local nonprofit is helping emerging entrepreneurs get a leg up in the food industry by connecting them to business training and support. Alchemist, a community development corporation focused on bringing economic opportunity to historically disenfranchised and under-resourced populations, offers a microenterprise academy, business incubator program and commercial kitchen through its Alchemist Kitchen program.
“Starting any business is incredibly difficult. Starting a food business is probably 10 times harder,” says program manager Jacob Sacks. “Our program puts entrepreneurs years ahead of where they would have been otherwise” by connecting them to the information, skills and resources necessary to run a successful business.
Jasmine Bonilla, who graduated from the microenterprise academy and is now part of the incubator program, credits Alchemist Kitchen with the successful launch of her line of bottled sauces, Jazz’s Saucy Sauce, which is sold at farmers markets and select retailers.
“The class helped me open my eyes to different ways of getting your business started,” explains Bonilla. “I never imagined I could have my product in stores, but with Alchemist holding my hand, it was all possible. My life has changed a whole lot. It has boosted my confidence. I’m part of the food industry now.”
By helping food entrepreneurs get their footing, Alchemist is also contributing to greater variety and vibrancy across the local food landscape. Participants’ products include everything from pickled red onions to Jamaica tea to paella. “The world is a better place when it’s more diverse, especially when it comes to food,” says Sacks. “The food scene in Sacramento is already great, but to be able to bring a diverse array of foods into that scene and have them celebrated is a really beautiful thing.”