Preparing for People
Visionaries like Keba Konte, seasoned cafe entrepreneur and founder of Red Bay Coffee, embody the values that we believe are the foundation for good job creation, and set the bar for companies participating in the Business Institute.
These entrepreneurs are helping us to fully realize what the ICA and Fund Good Jobs models can – and should – do for Bay Area communities.
Keba founded Red Bay Coffee in 2013 with a big idea: to fundamentally transform a historically low-wage industry using a profit-sharing model that is inclusive of people who have traditionally been left out of the specialty coffee space, and that would feature living wages, health benefits, professional development, and career advancement opportunities.
As the owner of multiple cafes, Keba has created dozens of local jobs. With the launch of each new business, Keba’s entry-level employees have been cultivated and given opportunities to attain new skills and be promoted into new positions. Keba has a personal commitment to hiring people facing high barriers to employment, which pushes him to find new ways to build businesses that create opportunities for people of all backgrounds and abilities, while also being financially successful and sustainable.
As Keba puts it, “People observe you and they see what you are doing and what you are not doing, [...] if I opened a business and I was just the nicest person in the world but my business collapsed after 6 months, who’s gonna want to follow that model? But if I can find a balance and we all thrive, it’s awesome, meaning that you’re really impacting people and giving them a path.”
Having worked with Keba since 2011, ICA was well aware of his track record as a good job creator. We were thrilled to provide much more hands-on support when he approached us for help preparing for growth capital and building his team in 2014. Over the last year, ICA has supported Red Bay’s capital readiness through long-term growth strategy development, capital scenario planning, debt readiness, and financial forecasting. Meanwhile, we have supported the company’s “people readiness” through a job-creation forecasting model, tactical strategic HR support, and critical leadership development for the Red Bay management team.
Throughout the process, Keba has been receptive and committed to building his company and his team – providing an excellent model for the profile of ICA’s next cohort of entrepreneurs. Now that Red Bay’s capital raising process is well underway, we are excited to see the return in job creation and community impact that we know Keba is dedicated to achieving.