Four local entrepreneurs were awarded shares of over $20,000 in start-up funds and other support at the Spark Tank EXPO organized by Fresno Pacific University’s Center for Community Transformation (CCT).
The 10th Shark Tank presentation and fourth Microbusiness EXPO took place June 15, 2022, in the Warkentine Culture and Arts Center on the main FPU campus, 1717 S. Chestnut Ave., Fresno.
See the Spark Tank Expo video recap: https://youtu.be/cwcdeuLBJlk
- Inclusion Learning Center ($12,000 the largest award ever given)—A daycare for children with special needs, focusing on a huge gap in Fresno where families lack support for their children before they are school-age.
- Mommy’s Helper ($3,000)—A postpartum in-home support service. Deeply affected by postpartum depression, the founder now seeks to use her professional skills to support other mothers facing the same challenges.
- Project Board Game ($3,000)—A buy-one-get-one-free model that sells board games focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), with the goal to get these educational tools into the hands of more people nationally and internationally.
- Veterans Network ($2,500)—A wraparound support group dedicated to supporting veterans affected by unemployment as well as mental, social, physical and other issues.
The Spark Tank EXPO encourages social enterprises, which use business principles to address community issues. Participants are entrepreneurs whose innovations focus on people and the planet as well as profit. The 61 social enterprises Spark Tank has catalyzed through $185,000 in awards have generated $7M since 2016 and employed 122 people—many of whom have had barriers to getting jobs. Some 51% percent of these social enterprises are owned by members of ethnically underrepresented groups and 54% are owned by women.
Past winners have been launched by churches, community organizations and individuals. To be eligible, a social enterprise must have a financially profitable revenue stream, a strategic social impact goal that can be measured and managed and a plan to operate in an environmentally responsible manner.
Some previous Spark Tank winners exhibited at this year’s EXPO. These included Fresno Area Community Enterprises (FACE), GD.STWRD, GiVE CULTURE, The Lighthouse Recovery Center, Salt+Light and Single Mom Solutions, along with several other social enterprises whose owners have completed the CCT Startup Incubator program. Hope Now for Youth provided lunch for the first 150 people (paid for by the CCT).
Several community organizations provided generous sponsorships: Beneficial State Bank, CBMC Young Professionals, Cen-Cal Business Finance Group, Educational Employees Credit Union, Producers Dairy, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Tagua, Wawona Frozen Foods and FPU, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary and the FPU Foundation. The Lilly Foundation also offered generous support.
CCT connects the strengths of FPU with the resources of the region to transform cities. Part of the Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, the center supports entrepreneurial creativity, spiritual freedom, economic vitality and justice, environmental integrity, cross-cultural/social collaboration and political health in the Central Valley.
PHOTO: The three founders of Inclusion Learning Center celebrate receiving $12,000, the largest award ever given to one organization, at the Spark Tank EXPO June 15. From left: Gaukue Xiong, Melissa Bertao and Monica Peterson with Carlos Huerta, executive director of the FPU Center for Community Transformation. (FPU photo by Carolina Mueller)