Empowering community members to solve community problems through business has kept the lights on for the Spark Tank Pitch Fest since it was created by the Center for Community Transformation in 2013.
As the CCT, part of Fresno Pacific University, prepares for the seventh annual pitch fest at 3:00 p.m. Thursday, November 14, 2019, at Lanna Coffee, 617 Broadway, Fresno, a good deal of success has already shown through:
- Social enterprises awarded capital via Spark Tank have generated $3.7M.
- A range of products and services to the community as well as jobs to more than 260 people, many of whom face challenges to employment.
- The support and participation of community partners such as Beneficial State Bank, Bitwise Industries, Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, Lanna Coffee Co., and many individual donors that have helped CCT invest over $100,000 in start-up capital.
“We remain committed to seeing social enterprises thrive, supporting local businesses, non-profits and individuals to bring change to their communities,” says Randy White. D.Min., executive director of CCT and associate professor of community transformation at FPU.
Churches, other organizations and individuals can submit a pitch proposal to pitch at Spark Tank. To be eligible, an 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.
CCT connects the strengths of FPU with the resources of the region to transform cities. Part of the Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, CCT supports entrepreneurial creativity, spiritual freedom, economic vitality and justice, environmental integrity, cross-cultural/social collaboration and political health in the Central Valley.
Spark Tank is the Valley’s only social enterprise event, boasting a start-up success rate double the national average. Social enterprise uses the principles of business to get beyond charity and address specific community problems.
Lanna Coffee is a local company that lives that spirit by working with growers in Thailand and returning a portion of the profits to help provide clean water wells for the growers. So far 70,000 Thai people have received access to clean water. Lanna Coffee is available at Vons, Costco and Whole Foods as well as directly from the company and is served at some local coffee shops.