Graciela Moran: Supporting Historically Underserved Entrepreneurs and Communities
Hi! It’s me, Spiffy, the interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with the latest scoop on entrepreneurs making a difference for all of us around the world! Today’s rockstar is the External Affairs Officer for Caravanserai Project, Graciela Moran.
Spiffy: Thanks a million for being here today, Graciela. I’m excited to chat about your work. What challenge are you addressing at Caravanserai Project?
Graciela: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Caravanserai Project’s work is all about uplifting underserved communities and supporting the entrepreneurs that have historically been left behind. We uplift mission-driven entrepreneurs to not only follow their dreams but create a source of revenue, rather than being in survival mode. We do that with our Pre-Accelerator in partnership with the University of California Riverside - Extension that takes their startup or idea to the next level. We offer technical assistance through free webinars, a digital journey providing digital support, circles which is a supporting environment where mission-driven leaders have the opportunity to share ideas, consult with peers, and connect with experts with a leadership or DEI focus, and much more!
Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?
Graciela: I am currently working towards a Masters in Public Administration at San Diego State University, and in order to be able to afford it I needed to work full time. I didn't want to work a job that had no meaning to me, I wanted to feel inspired and know that I'm helping change someone's life or vision.
Spiffy: Can you elaborate on how you and the company are working towards a more equitable world?
Graciela: We are currently in the process of granting half a million dollars to start-up mission-driven entrepreneurs in California specifically in the Inland Empire. Each entrepreneur will have the opportunity to access up to $10,000 dollars in micro-grants. We are one of seventeen centers to do so in California all through the Dream Fund Micro Grant program developed by the California Office of Small Business Advocates. Our focus is to provide these grants to folx who have historically been ignored in the entrepreneur work and focusing on mission-driven ventures with a social impact component.
Spiffy: Amazing! Tell me about a recent company milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on the community you serve?
Graciela: This work of providing micro-grants has been something that we have all had so much fun accomplishing. It has been a huge milestone for us to see the impact this has created for our community in the Inland Empire. However what makes our organization so great is that everyone, from our board to staff, shares a common value. Another huge milestone is that our organization had the opportunity to grow. Our staff is composed of immigrants, children of immigrants, and first-generation college students looking for the opportunity to learn and become confident—those populations alone are historically left out of a "professional career” and I'm so proud to be in an organization where I'm valued and understood.
Spiffy: Tell me about a startup or project you’ve worked with that exemplifies the impact you’re striving to make.
Graciela: Our entire network is fantastic, however this year’s cohort of our SEEDlab Pre-Accelerator Fellows have been incredibly inspiring. Each one of them exemplifies the social impact we are striving to make. Our fellows all strive to create racial, educational, reproductive equity in their own way through their venture. It has truly been in an honor to work for them and support them, I cannot wait to see their organizations flourish.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Graciela: My role as an External Affairs Officer is rarely seen in the mission-driven sector, I feel very fortunate to be in this creative space and have the opportunity to create the role. I connect with community leaders, look for upcoming entrepreneurs, and also use what I'm learning in school for my work at the organization.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Graciela—it’s been an honor!
Graciela Moran joined Caravanserai Project in 2021. Prior, she served as President and CEO of the ASI, the student government at California State University San Bernardino, advocating for all college students at the local state and federal level. In 2020, she was a Majority Leader Eloise Gomez Reyes 30 under 30 awardee. Currently, she is pursuing a Masters in Public Administration at San Diego State University and serves on the board of Latinx Professionals. (First published on the Ladderworks website on May 11, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.