March 8, 2018

This Bay Area nonprofit helps entrepreneurs renew themselves and their communities

Renewal Awards finalist AnewAmerica supports underserved populations in the pursuit of their American Dreams

AnewAmerica founder Sylvia Rosales-Fike celebrates with graduates of one of the nonprofit’s business incubation programs. Photo courtesy of AnewAmerica

Entrepreneurship has become a huge focus of the contemporary understanding of the American Dream—but not everyone has equal access to the resources necessary to pursue that path. That’s where AnewAmerica steps in: the organization provides women, low- to moderate-income individuals, immigrants, and minorities with business training and support.

Steve Dial is the CEO of AnewAmerica, and a lifelong community service enthusiast. We asked him to tell us about AnewAmerica’s work training and inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs, and the specific initiatives his organization has pursued to uplift the overlooked and underserved. The following is an edited and condensed version of that conversation. Learn more about AnewAmerica on Facebook and on Twitter at @anewamicrobiz.

Tell us about AnewAmerica’s community projects.

AnewAmerica provides business training and incubation to aspiring entrepreneurs from underserved communities. Through our US Small Business Administration Women’s Business Centers in Oakland and San Jose, we also provide training, counseling and technical assistance to women entrepreneurs and women business owners.

In addition, we are under contract with the City of Oakland as one of the general contractors on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. This project will be one of the first bus corridors in the US. We have been enlisted to assist impacted businesses (primarily small, culturally diverse businesses in low to moderate income areas) to help mitigate the impact of the project on their respective businesses both during and post construction.

Tell us about your community.

Our clients and communities span both Alameda and Santa Clara Counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our work is done from our field offices in Oakland and San Jose. These cities represent the diversity of our client community: it’s made up of women, low to moderate income individuals, immigrants, and minorities. They come from these diverse backgrounds to embark on their dream of entrepreneurship as a means to achieve economic stability, growth, and their piece of the American Dream.

When did you start your community work?

I started my community work at an early age. Soliciting donations in public for national organizations, raising money by walking in the March of Dimes walk-a-thons (when it was a 20-mile walk), and volunteering in other ways. In my adult life, I participated in delivering Financial Education for various youth programs and volunteering on boards of nonprofits.

What inspired you to do this work?

The belief that “giving back” is integral to strengthening our communities as a whole. Also, to paraphrase: “to whom much is given; much is expected.” Each of us has talents that in some way can be shared and used to help others.

What ways are you helping to make your community thrive?

AnewAmerica helps our community thrive because it gives individuals the knowledge, support, and belief that they are empowered through the tool of entrepreneurship. This enables them to change their lives, work towards their dreams, and move towards a better life for their families.

In addition, through the success of our participants, jobs are created in their communities: families can start to move up the economic ladder and positive change can spread throughout the community.

What do you love about your community?

The diversity of the community is its strength.

What’s one thing you want outsiders to know about your community?

Our community is faced with challenges such as affordable housing and economic insecurity. However, it is a resilient, diverse and vibrant community that has the strength, will, and desire to meet its challenges and to help each other make a better future. It is full of individuals and organizations committed to and working towards finding solutions.

What leaders inspire you?

As an organization, we are constantly inspired by our Founder, Sylvia Rosales-Fike. Through a deeply challenging and inspiring personal story, she leveraged her vibrant spirit, will, determination, and courage to found our organization. Other leaders who have inspired me are Anwar Sadat, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Golda Meir.

Mikhail Klimentov

Mikhail Klimentov is a contributor to The Renewal Project.
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