Investor Spotlight: San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE)
SAGE champions investments that improve the quality of life for individuals, families, neighborhoods and businesses on San Antonio’s Eastside. A new investor to greater:SATX in 2022, SAGE’s key programs include Back Office Support, helping small businesses secure over $9.25M in revenue and Grant Making focused on elevating eastside businesses.
greater:SATX visited with Robert Melvin, CEO of SAGE, to learn more about their impact and support of small businesses.
Tell us a little bit about SAGE and your mission in our San Antonio community.
We recognize that the Eastside is the gateway to the rest of the city. From manufacturing, trades, tourism, and the home of our championship Spurs, our Eastside holds some of our city’s most prized gems.
Our goal is to ensure people are at the center of all we do – we have to ensure people have their most basic needs met if we want our business community to thrive. This includes:
- Access to affordable health care (telehealth)
- Access and literacy opportunities for digital inclusion
- Financial literacy and access to capital for business growth
- Access to equitable education and opportunities
Our role is to act as a convener to ensure that our people and businesses can come together to create community, to create a more vibrant and inclusive eastside. Because we know that when the eastside thrives, the City of San Antonio is elevated.
Our key programs include:
- Back Office Support, which we have been able to help small businesses secure over $9.25M in revenue.
- Grant Making., which has focused primarily on facade grants that elevate our eastside businesses. Last year, we were able to provide $1.4M in grants thanks to the generous support of our donors.
How does SAGE continue evolving to support Eastside businesses?
Our goal is to constantly serve with a listening-first, equity-first approach.
We are currently conducting bi-weekly townhall calls with our eastside business partners to understand how we can best serve them, what barriers we can remove, and what community partners we can bring to the table to ensure their people are being equitably served.
We have also launched a Community Business Cohort that brings together experts in marketing, finance, community development, and nonprofit management to understand how we create the most effective ecosystem for our eastside – one that addresses social barriers like the digital divide, affordable healthcare, quality education, and quality food.
How has SAGE’s focus shifted throughout the pandemic?
Like so many nonprofit partners, SAGE acted as a front-line response team during the pandemic. From providing gap funding and assistance to those who struggled to stay open during the pandemic, to creating an inspirational narrative that enticed new eastside patrons, SAGE has been committed to serving our community.
We, again, recognized then and now that without our community’s most basic needs met, our mission cannot be achieved. So, we partnered with groups like the San Antonio Food Bank to ensure that our eastside families had what they needed throughout the pandemic.
We were also able to get creative in how we highlighted our businesses and how those businesses gave back through the Food Bank’s dining programs.
Can you share some of your priorities as the newly announced CEO of SAGE?
One of my biggest priorities is ensuring we are proximate to our community’s needs and accessible to our small business and nonprofit partners.
We know that without a foundation of wellness and accessibility, equity cannot be achieved. If we want our economy to thrive, we must address digital inclusion, community wellness, and education. We will do this by partnering with over 200 local nonprofit and corporate citizens. Our goal is not to be a master of all solutions, but rather lean on the incredible expertise and talent in our community to connect resources and allocate support.
Our biggest realization has been that proximity to our constituents is key. Therefore, the first phase of our campaign will be the purchase of our new office space — a community asset that will bring together UTSA Small Business Development Center, the City of San Antonio, Texas Research and Tech Foundation (TRTF), Bexar County, and more. This space will act as a training ground and back-office support for the more than 2,000 small businesses that we partner with. It will also be the headquarters for the Eastside Business Corridor, an expansion and improvement of tourism and transportation pipelines.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
We are an open door. We want to listen, learn, and provide for our Eastside community. If you have any ideas or opportunities you’d like to share, please join us for our next bi-weekly Small Business Town Hall on Thursday, April 14th at 8:30am. If you are interested in partnering with SAGE to help support our small business community, we invite you to contact our team.