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Keba Konte, Red Bay Coffee

Thanks to Pacific Community Ventures for this story!

Keba Konte has demonstrated his commitment to creating good jobs for people in Oakland, California. In fact, over the years he’s created over fifty jobs through three enterprises. But, when he went to his bank to secure funding to open a new wholesale coffee roastery and cafe, he was turned down.

He raised almost $90,000 for the venture on Kickstarter, which helped to eliminate the initial financial burden that comes with brick and mortar businesses. But, to get the roasting equipment he needed and to build out the space he’d secured, he needed to raise more. Undaunted, he turned to the CDFI industry to make his vision a reality.

Small business owners like Keba often find themselves falling into a “gap” in funding. They’re successful, yet can’t secure bank loan large enough to grow their business, and the amount of funding available from most microlenders is simply not enough.

Keba has worked with Oakland-based CDFI ICA Fund Good Jobs since 2011, and he turned to them for capital. The team at ICA Fund Good Jobs believed in Keba’s vision and structured a capital stack to meet his needs, partnering with San Francisco-based CDFI Pacific Community Ventures, to get Keba the amount he needed.

Entrepreneurs like Keba create stronger jobs and stronger communities. “We hire folks who have high barriers to employment whether that’s formerly incarcerated, people of color, or folks with disabilities. And that just comes to us naturally, but what comes to us naturally is different from most other coffee companies,” Keba says.

Red Bay Coffee’s business model comes at a crucial time in Oakland’s history when working-class people — and people of color, in particular — are getting priced out of their neighborhoods. Keba hopes that building a successful business and paying livable wages, he can allow them to stay.

Neither CDFI had done a joint small business loan before, but they both saw tremendous opportunity in working together. Both Pacific Community Ventures and ICA Fund Good Jobs are hoping this is the first of many joint efforts together, allowing them to serve more business owners across the Bay Area, and to create many more good jobs working people.

Recently, SFGate wrote a piece on Oakland’s up-and-coming coffee scene, praising Red Bay’s high-quality coffee and their chill atmosphere which “draws patrons for cupping and educational events, plus an eclectic calendar filled with live performances, video release parties, a pop-up brunch series and more.”