Cultivate Small Business

Building and sustaining early-stage businesses

Santander’s Cultivate Small Business (CSB) program is designed to support the growth of early-stage woman-, BIPOC-, and immigrant-owned food businesses in emerging neighborhoods. The 12-week virtual program is completely free to entrepreneurs and provides participants with industry specific education, networking, and small capital grants for business owners.

Fall 2023 CSB graduates with program alumni and Santander staff at the 2023 ICIC Annual Conference in Miami, Florida

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

Food-related businesses were chosen for the pilot program focus due to their 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.

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 additional program details, please email Sonia Moin at


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





ICIC drives inclusive economic prosperity in under-resourced communities through innovative research and programs to create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents.


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