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Positioning Inner City Businesses for Long-Term Success

Kaiser Permanente sponsors Inner City Capital Connections’ kick-off seminar to help drive economic development and job creation in Southern California.

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Group picture of the Inner City Capital Connections.Many small business owners aspire to grow and create jobs, but need the necessary information, tools, and resources to do so successfully. To help fill the gap, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, in collaboration with Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC), recently provided an opportunity for small business owners in underserved areas of Los Angeles and San Bernardino to gain expert advice. 

Eighty ambitious entrepreneurs attended ICCC’s free, kick-off seminar at the Hilton San Gabriel where they received executive education and instruction on how to access capital to take their businesses to the next level. The 10-hour day ended with personalized coaching sessions. Several Kaiser Permanente Southern California executives were paired with finance/consulting experts to provide this coaching. 

Kaiser Permanente is in its third consecutive year sponsoring ICCC. The sponsorship is in partnership with the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) – the national nonprofit research and advisory organization that supports ICCC – to reduce income disparity and improve lives by promoting local microeconomies. This support of small businesses allows them to grow, hire more people, and contribute to creating a thriving community. 

Kaiser Permanente understands well why this work is so important. Economic, social, and environmental factors in communities – beyond the medical care provided – greatly affect people’s health. Economic security, for example, is vital to enabling a person to afford nutritious food, have secure housing, attain a good education, and access health care services – all critical elements for quality of life.

“Kaiser Permanente’s mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve,” said John Yamamoto, vice president, community health, government relations, and community engagement, Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “Kaiser Permanente promotes local economic vitality in under-resourced areas because the social and economic conditions in our communities profoundly influence the health of people who live, work, and play there.” 

Experienced presenters share practical tips

Dobbin Bookman at the Harvard Business School.Seminar attendee Beate Chelette, owner of The Growth Architect, which specializes in growing, building, and scaling businesses, appreciated the event. 

“The quality of speakers is like a ‘Who’s Who,’” said Chelette, noting that experienced faculty from distinguished institutions such as Harvard Business School and executives from various types of financial institutions participated. “They offered information that makes you think of your business on a high level of strategic positioning. They stressed the importance of making sure that there’s a cohesive plan aligned with that strategy, with a clear end goal.”

Richard Pallay Jr., BusinessSource director, economic and workforce development department, City of Los Angeles, encouraged entrepreneurs not to be intimidated by the program’s high caliber of presenters. “The speakers are very approachable,” Pallay said. “They give practical information that can be applied immediately to help these businesses expand, employ more people, and better people’s lives.” 

Inspiring cohort makes ICCC history

Chelette’s small business is one of 107 organizations that ICCC accepted into the Los Angeles/San Bernardino group. The cohort’s profile is especially impressive. In fact, 59 percent of the small businesses are women-owned – making Los Angeles/San Bernardino the largest cohort of women-owned businesses in ICCC’s 13-year history nationwide. 

“Women’s entrepreneurship has increased dramatically during the past few years, driven by the desire for personal and financial independence, wealth creation, and the willingness of capital providers to invest in successful, growing businesses that demonstrate gender, racial and ethnic diversity,” said Steve Grossman, chief executive officer, ICIC. “Kaiser Permanente’s extraordinary commitment to increasing its spending with certified women- and minority-owned businesses has undoubtedly played a meaningful role in the unique results from the Los Angeles area cohort.”

Additionally, 70 percent of the cohort’s businesses are minority-owned, and 55 percent are seeking capital. The businesses from a wide range of industries also have on average: 

  • 16 years in operations 
  • $2.6M in annual revenues 
  • 13 full-time employees 

Vanessa Faggiolly sitting at a table with notes.

ICCC program alum Vanessa Faggiolly said what she and her mother Nora Saca learned helped them to transform Amerisal, LLC, their food distribution company of imported goods. 

ICCC had such a big influence on me,” said Faggiolly, chief financial officer, Amerisal, LLC. “When we first started our business, we only had four products for distribution. Now we have more than 50 and we’re growing every day. I am so thankful to Kaiser Permanente for its vision to help small business owners succeed.”

Next steps

After completing the opening seminar, business owners will receive another approximately 32 hours of coaching and webinars. “We call it ‘a mini MBA on steroids,’” Grossman said. They will also have an opportunity to attend a culmination event in Boston, Massachusetts where they can network and make pitches to capital providers, like the real-life TV show, “Shark Tank” – only “kinder and gentler,” Grossman said. 

Since Kaiser Permanente’s first sponsorship of the ICCC program’s introduction three years ago, approximately 300 businesses have been mentored in Southern California. Kaiser Permanente San Diego is up next. They will launch the San Diego small business cohort on Sept. 27. The Southern California Region has proudly led the way for the program. Kaiser Permanente Northern California will have a cohort in Sacramento this year. Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic States started a Baltimore cohort in July. 

To learn more about Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s work in the community, visit community.kp.org
For more information about ICIC and its ICCC program, visit www.icic.org.

Please watch this short video, in which Steven Rogers of Harvard Business School comments on the significance of the collaboration between ICIC and Kaiser Permanente on promoting health, vitality, equity, diversity, and inclusion in communities that most need the investment. 

Thank you to the Educators and Mentors

A special thank you to our Kaiser Permanente colleagues for contributing their knowledge and energy as mentors. 

Kaiser Permanente Executives:

  • Greg Christian, Senior Vice President and Area Manager, San Bernardino County Area
  • Anthony Coleman, Assistant Hospital Administrator, San Bernardino County Area
  • Rita Essaian, SCPMG HR Executive Administrator
  • Trish Lopez, Chief Financial Officer, San Bernardino County Area
  • Ken Rivers, Chief Operating Officer, Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center
  • Murtaza Sanwari, Chief Operating Officer, Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Medical Center


  • Dobbin Bookman, Program Director, Owner/President Management Program, Harvard Business School; Principal, TBG Advisory
  • Susan Perkins, Visiting Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and Associate Professor of Strategic Management, University of Illinois-Chicago
  • Steven Rogers, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
  • Gail Taylor, Clinical Professor of Business Administration, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College

Business Faculty: 

  • Brian Chow, Vice President, St. Cloud Capital, LLC 
  • Alexander Eng, Senior Vice President and Market Executive, Commercial Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch 
  • Alex Guerrero, Business Development Officer, VEDC
  • Lara O’Connor Hodgson, President and Chief Executive Officer, NOW Corp
  • Antonio Pizano, Vice President and Director of CDFI Lending, The Small Business Finance Fund
  • Jonathan Tower, General Partner, Arctaris
  • Antonio Zate, Senior Vice President – SBA Lending, Bank of America