The City provides a multitude of business opportunities for entrepreneurs, small businesses and corporations alike.
Office of Small Business
- Free service to help entrepreneurs achieve their business plans and goals.
- Provide one-to-one case management assistance including information on required licenses and permits, technical assistance and financing options to get your business started.
- Referrals to various business resources to help your business grow and thrive.
- Services available by phone, walk-in and by appointments in English, Chinese and Spanish.
In Fiscal year 2015-2016:
Essentials for businesses to start, operate, and grow in SF
With over 130,000 visitors and counting, the SF Business Portal continues to put small businesses first, as the “go to” online tool for small business owners to start, stay, and grow in San Francisco. Over the past year, the Business Portal removed barriers and significantly improved how users plan for success and interact with permitting departments. For the first time, current and potential business owners can create a secure, online user-profile to save and submit relevant application forms directly through the Portal, while also tracking their progress via customizable checklist templates.
Making It Easier To Do Business in San Francisco
“The Business Portal has been a great tool for a business like ours that’s trying to move to San Francisco. I’ve spent countless hours shuffling through government websites for answers that apply directly to ReGrained amongst the madness. The Food and Beverage manufacturing starter kit I found on the portal gives us essentially a whole check list of what we need to make sure we have everything in place. We’re excited that we can soon say we’re headquartered in San Francisco.”
– Jordan Schwartz, ReGrained Co-Founder and Chief Grainmaster
- S. Small Business Administration’s Startup in a Day Challenge (with $50,000 prize money)
- 2015 Webby (Nominated) – City & Urban Innovation Category
- Harvard Kennedy School of Government Ash Center’s Bright Idea’s in Government Innovation in American Government Award
- Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development B-Cubed (Breaking Barriers to Doing Business) Award
- Center for Digital Government’s Best of California 2015 Award for Project Excellence
- CIO 100 Award
- Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Red Tape to Red Carpet Award
- Spark Award
- SPUR 2016 Good Government Awards
Connecting the pieces for a granola bar company
Prison Bars mission is to make delicious, healthy snack bars with fresh, nutritious, and organic ingredients while creating pathways for great employees to reintegrate into society from prison and become productive citizens and neighbors.
Seth Sundberg is the owner of a granola bar company named Prison Bars. Seth visited the Office of Small Business in October 2015 to get information on starting his business and business resources. Case managers initially provided Seth with a checklist of the necessary steps, information, and forms to start his business, as well as referrals to work with Small Business Development Centers and Legal Services for Entrepreneurs to grow his business. Seth returned to the Office of Small Business in January 2016 to inquire about the feasibility of exploring new flavors of granola bars from his home kitchen. Office of Small Business Case Manager initiated conversations with the Cottage Food Operations (CFO) Manager at the Department of Public Health and eventually connected Seth to the CFO Manager to further discuss his plans and feasibility.
Prison Bars participated in the Flavors of San Francisco event this year during Small Business Week! They are criminally delicious! For more info on Prison Bars and Seth’s story visit prison-bars.com.
Gourmet Organic Salvadoran Food
Office of Small Business client D’Maize opens its first restaurant at the former Casa Sanchez space at 2778 24th Street in Q2, 2016. The space had long been without a steady business and D’Maize is the perfect fit. D’Maize is owned and operated by husband and wife, Zenaida Merlin and Luis Estrada who first visited the Small Business Assistance Center in 2012 to inquire about starting a catering business. Staff provided information on the requirements for starting a catering business, including information on the caterers permit and food safety certificate, business registration and business name filing requirements, and referred them to non-profit economic development partner organizations MEDA and La Cocina for technical and business assistance.
D’Maize Catering eventually operated in La Cocina’s kitchen incubator for three years. In 2015 Zenaida and Luis revisited the Assistance Center to get information on permitting of a mobile food truck they had purchased. This time staff provided them the necessary information for mobile food facility permitting, and connected clients to the health inspector for approval of their truck. Staff also connected clients to Legal Services for Entrepreneurs and the SBDC to access legal services and an HR consultant respectively to help them understand the rules and responsibilities of becoming an employer since they needed to begin hiring employees for their growing business, and to determine if they should convert to an LLC. In May 2016, Zenaida and Luis opened restaurant D’Maize where they run all their operations out of, and this week they were approved for a limited live performance permit for their location. For more information visit D’Maize at: dmaize.com. You may also read this article on D’Maize from Mission Local.
Store mixes fashion, nails, and floral
Aline Dazogbo of Aline’s Closet, one of our Kiva borrowers opened a second location at 1431 Castro Street in Q2, 2016. VOILA is a concept store mixing fashion, nails, and floral in one shared space in Noe Valley. Aline has collaborated with a couple of other women on this concept, one who provides the nail services, and the other the floral design services, while she provides the fashion and accessories. Aline designs and creates her own line of women’s clothing which are sold at VOILA along with jewelry pieces also made by her and other accessories and bags made by artisans in Africa. This quarter Aline also payed off her Kiva loan in full, ahead of schedule. She is now currently fundraising for a second loan of $10,000, to help her hire staff for her two locations. We have enthusiastically endorsed Aline’s second Kiva loan. To support Aline’s current fundraising efforts click here. For more information on her new store visit VOILA at: voilasf.com. You may also read this article about VOILA and Aline in the Noe Valley Voice June issue.
Mayor Lee’s Small Business Week Honorees
Local Hire Award: Gus’s Community Market
Honorees: Dimitri and Bobby Vardakastanis (Var-da-ca-stine-s) (Owners), Andrew Lehr (Manager)
Location: 2111 Harrison Street (Mission Neighborhood)
Community Leadership: San Francisco Federal Credit Union- Excelsior Branch
Honorees: Rena Macapagal (Honoree), Area Manager, and Steven Stapp (CEO)
Location: 4800 Mission Street (Excelsior Neighborhood)
Community Impact: Black Bark BBQ
Honorees: David Lawrence and Monetta White
Location: 1325 Fillmore Street (Lower Fillmore Neighborhood)
Community Innovation: Green Apple Books
Honoree: Pete Mulvihill
Location: 506 Clement Street (Clement Neighborhood)
Business Strengthening: Dragon Papa
Honoree: Derek Tam
Location: 752 Grant Ave (Chinatown Neighborhood)
Heritage Award: La Mejor Bakery
Honorees: Carmen Elias and Jose Lopez
Location: 3329 24th Street (Mission Neighborhood)
We provide one-to-one case management assistance including information on required license and permits, technical assistance, financing options, and other business resources to help businesses start, grow, and thrive.