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James

Mandela Foods Cooperative

Oakland, CA

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Personal Story

I remember working on my application for this loan and reaching a dead-end at "Highest level of school completed". I settled on Primary as I had at least made it to the 5th grade, though I was taken out soon after. The plan was for me to be home-schooled, but that never happened, and from there I spent 3 years out of the school system helping my mother raise my newborn sister.

Taking on new responsibilities at home broadened my awareness of what was available in my community. I grew up in a part of East Oakland, CA that had no immediate resources; if you wanted food, the only close options were liquor stores, and all they provided were sugary drinks & processed snacks. I saw that we were spending more money to buy the few options at these places then we would if shopping at a grocery store for the things we actually wanted.

Eventually my family moved to the West side of Oakland and I got back into school (being bumped from 5th to 9th grade in the process), but we soon faced the same challenges. The one grocery store in the area had closed down without any warning offered to the residents or even the store’s staff. I was frustrated with the disconnect that existed between our neighborhood and the store’s ownership, but didn’t know what to do about it.

As things at home grew tighter financially, my interest in school drifted in search of work that could keep food on our table. By now I had a part time job with a local non-profit, Mandela Marketplace, and it was this relationship that got me connected with the effort to open a grocery store in West Oakland.

I am now 21 and can say that I support myself and am my own boss.

Business Description

Mandela Foods Cooperative (MFC) was born from the community's demand for a locally owned & operated source of good food. Residents (ourselves included) have often had to rely on the few items in liquor stores or go to the next city to get their basic food needs met.

We’re a worker-cooperative. This means we as employees own the business equally and operate democratically. This concept made it difficult to get capital from financial institutions needed to build our store. Taking years of petitioning support in the community and with the City of Oakland, we opened in 2009.

Although most of our customers live in the immediate area, we've still had to overcome many preconceptions to make it this far. When we first opened, we sold our products at incredibly low margins, beating our competition in many cases. Despite this, words like "Organic" and "Fair-Trade” gave off the impression of something expensive and foreign, even if price comparisons said different. Since then, our pricing has been set with more sustainable strategies and we have more customers than ever before.

We strive to source produce from within a 300-mile radius, working with smaller, independent farmers over big distribution. These relationships give our growing farmers a consistent source of revenue and our growing business better prices. In other departments, we face the challenges of being a small business; we can't order the quantities of larger established stores, so we don’t get many of the deals they receive, but we still try to price our products fairly, meaning we usually pay more and make less, but as customers learn this it only increases their respect for what we’re trying to do and keeps them coming back.

Entering our 3rd (and strongest) year, we continue fighting to support local, conscious business through what we put on our shelves and offer to our community.

What is the purpose of this loan?

We want to use this loan to purchase items with a practical purpose that can increase the visibility of our brand.

The focus of this loan is a bulk order of 100% Recycled paper bags featuring our logo and store info, we plan to direct remaining funds towards T-Shirts & Re-usable Bags (also featuring our logo) to sell at retail.

The majority of our customers take a paper bag for their groceries, and many have asked us to provide re-usable bags, shirts, and other memorabilia, so by applying our own signage to these products, almost anyone who shops with us leaves the store with a visible advertisement on hand. As our customer base is comprised mainly of people walking and biking in West Oakland, or taking public transportation around the Bay Area, we believe this will help attract new business and stimulate sales, making any future purchases of these products easier to do on our own.

*The quotes below are based on the smallest orders we could place with companies that offered the best combination of cost and willingness to make concessions for a small business.

*Paper Bags w/ logo
"Excellent Packaging Company"
100% Recycled, 40% Post Consumer
300 bags per bale
120 bales (approx. 1 years worth) @$35.95/ea = $4,314.

*Reusable Bags
"One Bag at a Time"
150 Bags @$2.50/ea = $375.

*T-Shirts
"Alliance Graphics"
100% Cotton
10-30 Shirts @8.75/ea = $262.5

Total: $4,951.5

James's loan is endorsed by Mandela Marketplace. The information below explains why his trustee thinks James is a great candidate for a Kiva Zip loan.
How long have you known this person?

More than 5 years

Tell us about your relationship with this borrower.

James was a founding member of our WYSE Youth Team back in 2007. Ever since we've been supporting his growth as an entrepreneur and community leader. After 2 years of helping develop our WYSE team and the Healthy Neighborhood Store Alliance, James went on to become a founding worker-owner of the Mandela Foods Cooperative.

Over the years we've been able to see James take more and more on, grow, and develop as a successful entrepreneur.

Tell us about this borrower's personality and character, and why you are endorsing him or her for a Kiva Zip loan.

James is extremely focused, responsible, dependible, and business-oriented. Just as important, he is committed to both building a successful business and making a difference in his community.

James is a community change agent, and is hilghly respected by his colleagues and community residents. He won the Robert Redford Art of Activism Award celebrating his work as an extraordinary leader.

Tell us about this borrower's business, and why you believe a Kiva Zip loan will contribute to his or her success.

Mandela Foods Cooperative is a locally-owned and operated full-service grocery store and nutrition education center located in West Oakland, a community long underserved in grocery retail.

By accessing a KivaZip loan, James and Mandela Foods will be able to expand their targeted marketing to bring in more customers -- more customers = more business = higher profits!

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ENDED

A loan of $5,000 helps me to Acquire Recycled Paper Bags, T-Shirts, and Reusable Bags, all featuring our logo, to improve our marketing and get more customers.

Disbursed Sep 5, 2012
Repayment Term:
12 monthly payments
Grace Period:
N/A
Listed:
Jul 11, 2012
Disbursed:
Sep 5, 2012
Paying Back:
Sep 6, 2012
Ended:
Sep 4, 2013

About Mandela Foods Cooperative

Industry:
Retail - General
Years in Operation:
1 year - 3 years
Follow:
Facebook Yelp
Badges:
Badge_repayment_silver_small

What are Borrower Badges?

Borrower Badges are a system designed to recognize and reward borrowers’ engagement with the Kiva Zip website.

There are two types of badges that are tiered like medals: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

  1. 'Repayment badges' are awarded for the on-time repayment of loans.
  2. 'Connectedness badges' are awarded for engagement with the Kiva Zip website.

This loan is endorsed by

Trustee Type:
Non-Profit
Location:
Oakland, CA
Badges:
Badge_repayment_silver_small
On Zip Since:
Jul 11, 2012
(21 months)
Loans Endorsed:
2
Total Value:
$6,700
Fundraising/Raised:
0
Paying on Time:
0
Paying Back Late:
0
Repaid in Full:
2
Defaulted:
0
Repayment Rate:
100%
Why are you endorsing James?

James is extremely focused, responsible, dependible, and business-oriented. Just as important, he is committed to both building a successful business and making a difference in his community.

James is a community change agent, and is hilghly respected by his colleagues and community residents....

What are Trustee Badges?

Trustee Badges are a system designed to recognize and reward trustees’ engagement with the Kiva Zip website.

There are two types of badges that are tiered like medals: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

  1. 'Repayment badges' are awarded for the on-time repayment of loans.
  2. 'Connectedness badges' are awarded for engagement with the Kiva Zip website.
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