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5th Annual Spark Tank Awards More Than $17,000 in Start-up Investments

On November 16, 2017, the Center for Community Transformation’s fifth annual Spark Tank Pitch Fest (fashioned after the national acclaimed show Shark Tank) awarded more than $17,000 in start-up investment to 5 different Social Enterprises from up and down the Central Valley. These social enterprises pitched their social businesses to a panel of judges who are local experts and practitioners. This panel included Amber Balakian, Owner & Manager of Balakian Farms & Instructor at Fresno City College, Andrew Shinn, Faculty at Fresno Pacific School of Business & local business owner, Jake Soberal, Co-CEO of Bitwise Industries, Eddie Valero, Executive Director of the Yong Men’s Initiatives & Spark Tank winner in 2014 and AP Armour, CEO of Neighborhood Industries.

Below are the 5 social enterprises that were invested in:

La Cocina (Reedley, CA) $6,000

This restaurant will serve Elotes and Hispanic food in Reedley, CA. Through this restaurant, La Cocina will work with Community Youth Ministries (CYM) to provide jobs for and CYM’s teen moms in their teen moms program. On the back end, La Cocina will also provide a portion of their profits to reinvest back into the community through non-profits in their community.

Our Street (Merced, CA) $6,000

This proposal looks to restore and repurpose an abandoned, dilapidated building into an events center, coffee shop and non-profit advancement center in Merced, CA. Through this venture, Our Street looks to bring economic transformation to a neglected part of the city.

Single Mom Solutions (Fresno, CA) $3,000

Is an internet-based subscription enterprise that will develop a curriculum and a series of activities to address the stresses of single female head of household families through a support network.


MCC Thrift Store (Fresno, CA) $1,500

This proposal is a joint-partnership headed by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) that expands a national network of thrift stores to a Herndon & Blackstone location in Fresno. MCC Thrift that will employ people with barriers to employment who work with Fresno Area Community Enterprises (FACE).


Central Valley Creations (Malaga, CA) $600

This enterprise looks to clean up neighborhoods and repurpose discarded objects to create art and furniture that will be sold up and down the state. This will provide a revenue source for people in need through PINTO Reconnect.

Included in each of the start-up investments is full-tuition to the Social Enterprise Academy. The first round of classes begins February 3rd, at Bitwise Industries. If you are a social entrepreneur and would like to join in, you can contact Carlos Huerta for more info.

We are proud to say that through the Spark Tank process, the CCT has now invested over $70,000 in start-up investments to 38 difference Social Enterprises.

Randy White and the CCT would like thank Wells Fargo and the SG Foundation for their partnership and support of the Spark Tank process. The CCT also thanks Cencal Finance Group and the Roddis Foundation for the special interest they’ve taken in our Social Enterprise Initiative.

Connect with us and the social enterprise movement in our valley by reaching out to Carlos Huerta at

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