Rising Tide Capital launches national partnership network to support vulnerable entrepreneurs

Rising Tide Capital, the Jersey City-based nonprofit that offers mentoring and support to entrepreneurs, has launched a national initiative aimed at expanding its model of investing in distressed communities.

The company said the Rising Tide Network is growing in the wake of a six-year pilot program focused on Chicago’s South Side. That program, which saw RTC partner with Sunshine Enterprises to create a Community Business Academy, has seen 675 entrepreneurs graduate from the program, RTC said in a news release.

The first official expansion partners will include Sunshine Enterprises, as well as ASPIRE Community Capital in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Lowcountry Local First in Charleston, South Carolina, RTC said.

“Our programs are now live in 12 communities in four states, equipping hundreds of entrepreneurs with the tools, skills and knowledge needed to start and grow successful businesses,” Alfa Demmellash, RTC’s co-founder and CEO, said in a prepared statement. “The Rising Tide Network is the culmination of 15 years of our team’s hard work and persistence, which has helped so many entrepreneurs realize their dreams of owning their own businesses and impacting their communities.”

This fall, ASPIRE and Lowcountry will welcome their first cohorts of entrepreneurs, while Sunshine will continue its work with four new cohorts of its own. In addition, RTC will expand its own New Jersey efforts with 13 cohorts of its Community Business Academy in the northern and central parts of the state.

“We are ready to work with new partners across the country to help them empower economically vulnerable entrepreneurs in their communities with the resources and training to fulfill their passions and build wealth,” Demmellash said.

RTC said the average entrepreneur it supports is a single mother of two making at least $20,000 less than what is needed for self-sufficiency. Its 12-week training program, the Community Business Academy, began in 2006 with 15 participants and has now graduated more than 3,000 entrepreneurs from New Jersey and the region.