The Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) is a local, community-based economic development corporation located in the Mission District of San Francisco. For over 38 years MEDA has worked to improve economic and social conditions in the neighborhood by stimulating investment, enhancing the business environment, and creating jobs for area residents, while maintaining the cultural identity and resources of the Mission District. MEDA received a $1 million loan from Community Vision to acquire the 21,000 square foot facility to serve as the Plaza Adelante, a center that houses several community-based nonprofits, an in-house café, exhibits of work from local artists and a market that serves as a business incubator. The nonprofits in Plaza Adelante provide a wide range of services including technical assistance for microenterprises, homeownership counseling and foreclosure intervention, financial education, technology education and training, affordable financial products and services and tenant counseling.

As part of their economic development strategy, MEDA created the El Mercadito, a retail business incubator, which allows low-income, small business owners to rent a small, affordable retail space with free business technical assistance and coaching provided by MEDA’s Business Development Program. The businesses will move from the Mercado when their leases are up and into a space in the Mission, creating and sustaining jobs and contributing to the economic well-being of the neighborhood.

The Mercado is filled with an eclectic, vibrant group of small businesses with equally lively owners. Jessica, originally from El Salvador, happened to walk by the MEDA office while out looking for work. She had been unemployed for several months and knew she wanted more than just a job; she wanted a career with a future. MEDA’s small business development program gave her that opportunity. Jessica is now two months into running Express Beauty, a tiny women’s clothing boutique in the Mercado, and loves every minute of it. “I’ve never done anything like this, never run a business before,” says Jessica. “But it just seems so natural to me. I enjoy my customers and helping them find that perfect outfit.”

Through MEDA’s Business Development Program, qualified individuals can access the training and capital needed to become self-employed and develop a microenterprise that creates anywhere from one to five jobs. But, more importantly, the program helps build an economically sustainable community that empowers its members to build a better future for themselves. Community Vision is proud to be a partner with MEDA as it continues to revitalize the economic and social health in the Mission District.