Building Equity Program

Foodwise’s Building Equity program offers business development resources and opportunities for early-stage BIPOC food entrepreneurs to market-test and sell their products and build a customer base at Foodwise farmers markets. The goal of the program is to support business growth, economic viability, and asset-building for BIPOC entrepreneurs.

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 BIPOC entrepreneurs at Foodwise farmers markets. 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.

Market Placement 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:

Aedan Fermented Foods | Bini’s Kitchen | Chef Sarah Germany | Crumble & Whisk | Green Thumb Farms | Gumbo Social | Kitiya | Mangosay | Mi Comedor | Mi Morena | Nusa | Oya Organics | Oyna Foods | Rasoi | Reem’s

Community Partners

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.
  • In The Black: In The Black is a creative and entrepreneurial marketplace providing Black-owned businesses with access to affordable retail space in the historic Fillmore District, with a focus on Bay Area designers. In The Black is carving out a new path focused on Black community empowerment, wealth building, and prosperity.
  • 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.
  • Oakland Bloom: Oakland Bloom’s mission is to advance economic equity in the food industry. It aims to support poor and working-class refugee, immigrant, and BIPOC chefs to launch their own food businesses, and to reenvision and reshape what a healthy and just food service industry could look like.
  • SF Black Wealth: SF Black Wealth was started with the goal of helping bridge the racial wealth for the Black Bay Area. They are passionate about promoting a lifestyle where Black Americans can thrive in California.

Pop-Ups on the Plaza

Pop-Ups on the Plaza is a series of events celebrating Bay Area Black entrepreneurs, featuring businesses in Foodwise’s Building Equity program. Join us at these events in 2024:

Learn More

Thank You to Our Current & Previous Institutional Funders

  • Dream Keeper Initiative (San Francisco Human Rights Commission)
  • The Port of San Francisco
  • Robert & Toni Bader Charitable Foundation