Cultivate Small Business

Building and sustaining early-stage businesses

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Santander Bank’s Cultivate Small Business is designed to help early-stage entrepreneurs in low-income neighborhoods build and sustain their businesses, with a focus on women-, minority- and immigrant-owned businesses in food-related industries. The program provides industry specific education, networks and mentoring as well as small capital grants for business owners.

ICIC is one of Santander Bank’s three strategic partners in this initiative, which also include CommonWealth Kitchen, and Babson College. The fully-funded program began in October 2017 with an inaugural group of up to 30 entrepreneurs working in food-related businesses, which include processing, technology, manufacturing and food service companies.

Food-related businesses were chosen for the pilot program focus due to the diversity, size and number of small businesses within the category. ICIC research shows that when cities have “clusters” of related industries, their economies are associated with greater growth in business numbers, job creation, wages and innovation. The food cluster in Greater Boston is poised for growth and already represents a greater share of employment than exists in other cities.

By connecting early stage entrepreneurs in the same related business sector, this initiative addresses the education and mentoring needs of program participants with a customized model over a nine-month period.


The Cultivate Small Business program is currently accepting applications for it’s third cohort!  You can find information regarding the program, as well as the application at or reach out to Maggie McDonough at if you are curious about your eligibility. The deadline to apply is September 10th.

Cultivate Small Business aims to empower women, immigrant and minority entrepreneurs in food-related industries and to give them the building blocks to be successful business owners.  For applicant criteria and additional program details, visit our website at


ICIC is proud to work with dedicated partners on the Cultivate Small Business program:

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