What’s Happening at the Market: Market adds partnership to empower business owners

The Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market aims to empower up-and-coming small business owners in achieving their entrepreneurial goals, while actively working towards promoting the inclusivity of vendors and guests from all walks of life.

For this reason, SFAM has partnered with The Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship (CIE) to establish the Market-Ready Fund. This Fund aims to reduce some of the financial barriers for BIPOC and LGBTQA+ business owners, in recognition of systemic oppression and inequity.

“There are currently many systemic barriers preventing BIPOC/LGBTQA+ entrepreneurs from accessing capital and launching a business,” said CIE Business Advisor Rick Dickinson.

“It is CIE’s mission as an organization to support entrepreneurs from historically under-served communities. Knowing how valuable the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market is, we approached the market to provide this funding specifically.”

Starting a small business at the market allows business owners to establish their business and receive feedback on their product in a low risk environment.

“Farmers markets are the perfect incubator for early stage micro enterprises; at market, there’s a captive audience of customers who are going to show up and discover your business ” Dickinson said.

“The word-of-mouth that emerges from the market is a really great way to immerse yourself in your business community. For a new business, getting market traction is always a challenge, but being at the farmers market immediately gets you into the local conversation and in front of your customers.”

For many, the start-up costs associated with launching a market business can be challenging.

From the Market-Ready Fund, BIPOC & LGBTQA+ early-stage entrepreneurs are eligible to receive up to $1,000 in startup funds to launch their market business with SFAM. The funds are intended for non-recurring start up costs including (but not limited to) signage, printing materials, display or storage, on-site cooking equipment, booth tent, etc.

Priority will be given to applicants from Clallam County, Jefferson County or north Kitsap County who identify as black, indigenous, people of color or LGBTQA+.

Selected applicants will also receive the services of CIE’s business counsel. CIE offers two training courses, pre-venture and early venture, with one-on-one business advising throughout. These courses are offered free of charge as a service to the community.

Originating as a Seattle based resource for urban economic development, CIE has grown to prioritize rural development and has been working on the Olympic Peninsula since August 2019. CIE has now served more than 200 clients on the peninsula.

“We’re excited to help bring aspiring entrepreneurs to the Sequim community through the channel of the farmers market,” Dickinson said. “This fund is a way to provide up-and-coming BIPOC & LGBTQA+ producers and makers the extra bit of support they need to be able to sell at the market.”

Interested Market-Ready applicants can visit sequim market.com/marketready to review the guidelines and submit their application. The deadline for this round of funding is April 30.

CIE offers training sessions each month, more information can be found by following their Facebook page, joining the Olympic Peninsula Entrepreneurs Network (OPEN), or heading to CIE-NW.org.

The Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market opens on May 1 and runs every Saturday, through October, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, visit sequimmarket.com.

Emma Jane Garcia is Market Manager for the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market.

Emma Jane Garcia, Market Manager for the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market. Submitted photo