“Open Your Own Shop; Secure Prosperity and Secure Your Freedom.”

— Madame C.J. Walker

About Oakland Black Business Fund

Oakland Black Business Fund is a Black-led grantmaking program, providing capital, technical assistance, and growth strategy to Black businesses in Oakland, California.

Our unique approach to technical assistance focuses on building relationships between Black businesses by pairing them with Black technical assistance providers, who add value to these businesses while earning income from the funds we provide for the work.

The technical assistance providers, who are also small local business owners, often apply to our program to further stabilize their businesses. The program therefore fosters a sustainable ecosystem of Black businesses.

We employ a “low barrier, high acceptance” approach to accessing capital, using a ten minute online application for Black businesses in Oakland:

Our Funding Approach

Management Team

Trevor Parham
Co-founder / General Partner

Oakland native and entrepreneur with 20 years experience in technology, media, real estate, and impact investing. Founder of Oakstop, a community real estate platform, supporting entrepreneurs and creatives of color with coworking, event space, and business support services.

Damon Johnson
Director of Community Relations

Entrepreneur with 20 years of event production and marketing experience for brands such as MTV, Red Bull, and Verizon. Director of Programming at Oakstop, providing business support services for entrepreneurs of color through a community platform for economic empowerment.

Our Core Partners

Alliance for Community Development is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, founded in 1999, dedicated to promoting investment in low-income Bay Area communities and increasing access to capital for underrepresented entrepreneurs including, but not limited to, women, people of color, immigrants, and veterans. ​The Alliance serves as the fiscal sponsor for OBBF to facilitate its relief fund. As part of its programmatic offering, it provides technical assistance resources to OBBF entrepreneurs in the form of Entrepreneur Navigation sessions, which are designed to connect entrepreneurs to relevant service providers and financial support providers. In 2004, the Alliance co-developed the Bay Area Equity Fund with 75 million of investment capital and made investments in now public companies such as Pandora, Tesla, and Solar City.

Oakstop is a 100% Black owned and operated business that uses commercial real estate for community empowerment, providing workspace, meeting/event space, and business support services to artists and entrepreneurs of color. Oakstop provides OBBF with office space and back office services as well as event space for OBBF’s entrepreneur programs and retail pop-ups. Additionally, Oakstop’s community programming platform, Oakstop Alliance, coordinates OBBF’s technical assistance and business support services, ensuring that OBBF entrepreneurs are matched with culturally competent professionals that can support their growth throughout the evolution of their businesses.

Community Bank of the Bay contributes to a positive and sustainable economy by strengthening Bay Area businesses, providing affordable financial solutions, and supporting sustainable environmental practices. Community Bank of the Bay serves as OBBF’s bank for all of its funds and directly issues checks to all of the fund’s grant recipients. Additionally, Community Bank of the Bay partners with Oakstop on its business support services programming, providing local Black businesses with resources related to government funding, institutional lending, and general financial planning for small businesses.

Community Origins

Oakland Black Business Fund was founded in June 2020 by Elisse Douglass, an established real estate professional, and Trevor Parham, an experienced Oakland entrepreneur. The OBBF initially started as a crowdfunding campaign, initiated by Douglass, with the intention of raising $5,000 to support Black businesses in Oakland that were damaged in the protests following the murder of George Floyd. Within one week, the crowdfunding campaign reached $100,000, exceeding its initial goal and setting a precedent for a larger effort to support Black businesses. The community-oriented origins of the campaign influenced OBBF’s approach to supporting businesses, emphasizing the power of people, capital, and community organizing to create social impact.

Elisse Douglass
Co-founder / General Partner

Elisse Douglass specializes in leveraging strategic investing, partnerships, and bold vision to create the neighborhood economic hubs of the future, ensuring that they are equitable, innovative and reflective of local communities. As an impact investor, she builds and invests in minority-owned businesses that generate economic growth, specializing in place-based businesses and innovative retail concepts. As an established real estate professional, she has developed over 1M square feet of urban office, residential and retail space in the Bay Area and on the East Coast. Elisse’s inspiration to start the Oakland Black Business Fund came from a desire to build a platform capable of creating new growth strategies for Black economies at scale. Elisse is politically engaged in Oakland and was awarded the (2020) Community Advocate Award by the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce for her COVID relief efforts in service of the Black community. Elisse holds an MBA from the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business, where she was a Goldman Sachs Fellow and a Robert M. Toigo Foundation Fellow. She also holds a BA in Architecture from Columbia University in New York City.