[CENTRO] Fruitvale Public Market
by Christina Kwong
Over the summer, I interned at Centro Community Partners (Centro) as their strategic partnership associate and their MBA advisor. In the office, I reached out to different local organizations, corporations and maintained existing partnerships. Outside of the office, I met with my small business owner and advise him on ways he can revitalize his business. At times, it was hard to juggle the two roles but I was dedicated and determined to do whatever it took to get the job done!
In the past, MBA advisors’ role was to help small business owners obtain loans; however, this cohort worked on revitalizing the Fruitvale Public Market. My client was Luis; he owned an ice cream shop, Nieves Cinco de Mayo that sold unique artisan ice cream. By the end of the 8-week internship, I had to provide my client with a growth strategy plan, robust financial statements and implement some of his business objects. It was definitely a rigorous task to finish within a short amount of time because usually MBA advisors are given 14-weeks to complete these tasks. I had to be very organized timeline in order for me to accomplish these deliverables.
Luis’ main objective was to put his ice cream in grocery stores. We worked together from scratch to develop the packaging design and conducted market research to develop a pricing strategy. We went through numerous label designs and revisions to reach one design that was cost effective and looked good. A challenging part was figuring out the logistics of the nutritional label. I did a lot of background research and then I had to convince him that he should use the more expensive nutritional service to ensure that the nutritional facts were accurate. It was critical to have an accurate nutritional label in order for Luis to move forward in the future.
In addition to launching his ice cream to three local grocery stores, Luis was concerned with his business at his store. He had problems with retention; as a result, we implemented a loyalty card to encourage people to go back to his store to have more ice cream. Furthermore, I created materials such as a sales sheet and a YouTube video for him to present to local grocery store owners.
All the hard work really paid off. It was one of the most rewarding experiences to help a small business owner implement his vision and to see how much the business was grew within a short period of time. In the end, this wasn’t just a project to me because every decision I suggested and Luis and I implemented made a great impact to his business. This experience gave me an opportunity to apply the tools I learned in the business school to a real life situation and contributed in impacting Oakland small business community. In addition, I had hands-on experience learning about the food industry and the small business consulting.