Archive for April, 2010

Willamette Week’s Eat Mobile 2010

April 28, 2010 Leave a comment

30 food carts, 1300 tickets, and so much delicious food. Thank you to Willamette Week for all their work planning, organizing, and running such a huge event. If you didn’t get a chance to make it out to this year’s event, they have an extensive rundown on their page with all the photos and reviews you could ask for. They even found a Craigslist Eat Mobile Missed Connection… aawww.

We also really liked PDXploration’s photos from the evening. We’ve got some of our own on Flickr… you can check out some of the intrepid Mercy Corps Northwest staff and our lovely booth. We loved getting to talk to Portland food cart lovers about the small business development work we do in Portland, and explain that mysterious connection between Willamette Week’s food cart festival and Mercy Corps Northwest. In case your hands were too full with beignets and poutine to grab one of our brochures, here’s the rundown:

What does Mercy Corps Northwest have to do with Portland’s food cart revolution?

In the current economy, food carts are an appealing alternative to hungry customers who want creative, high-quality dishes without paying restaurant prices. But what about the owners of these carts? How are they surviving the nation’s economic downturn?

More and more, individuals in Portland are looking to food carts as an inexpensive alternative to starting up a restaurant. Even with the lower start-up costs, however, food cart owners often need help getting the capital to start up. Mercy Corps Northwest is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs like these. We have worked with many food carts in the Portland metropolis, including three of the food carts featured at this year’s Eat Mobile festival: Tabor, Mono Malo, and SoupCycle. We believe, like you, in supporting our local food industry, our local business owners, and in finding creative approaches to business and employment in a recession.

A huge thank you to Willamette Week for organizing and sponsoring Eat Mobile, all the volunteers for helping to run it, and you for joining us today to support your fellow Oregonians and gourmands!

Viva la food cart!

Categories: in the community Tags:

Food carts, food carts, food carts!

April 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Eat Mobile 2010 is officially sold out! It’s happening this Saturday, April 24th, from 5:30-9:30pm, and we are so excited!

We’ve got a whole bunch of eager and amazing volunteers who’ll be going from 1pm for set-up until 11:30pm for clean up, and doing everything in between from checking wristbands to busing tables.

We’ll also have SOLV at the event working with volunteers to help make sure the event stays clean and green by cleaning up litter afterward. And Mercy Corps Northwest will be tabling all that evening to tell you all about our programs and the work we do with food carts so you should come by to grab a brochure and chat (and bring us some samples!)

In other food cart news, Jennifer Lynch, who took our Foundations business planning program in January, just opened up her smoothie food cart on SW 3rd & Washington today! The Portland Smoothie Company serves all natural fruit smoothies and fresh juices using local and organic ingredients. Yum!

Categories: in the community Tags:

Facebook for your Small Business with Ben Tomkins

April 22, 2010 Leave a comment
Facebook Group Page Screenshot

The Facebook class discussion page

Last week Benjamin Tomkins came in for another round of small business social media, this time focusing specifically on Facebook. But his work started long before 6pm on April 13th. A couple weeks before class, he started a group page for the class on Facebook, and asked participants to join, introduce themselves, and talk about what they were coming to the class to learn.

They were able to get to know Ben and his expertise a little before they came to the class, and he was able to tailor his content based on what people said they needed. It made a great link between the class content and finding an effective, interactive way to present it.

One of the participants in the evaluations wrote that “I brought my laptop, and I’ve already started using it in class!

He even inspired us to get our act together and make a Mercy Corps Northwest Facebook page, created just this week.

Join us at the ReVisioning Value Conference next Monday and Tuesday

April 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Mercy Corps Northwest receives significant, meaningful support from volunteers with skills in various private sector professions, so we are excited to hear from panelists in the “Bringing Human and Financial Capital to Social Change” discussion. It will be interesting to learn of other ways to involve talented, experienced people looking to make an impact.

Please join us at the ReVisioning Value Conference next Monday and Tuesday. Mercy Corps NW members receive 20% off by using the Discount Code: MERCYCORPSNW. You can register online at or call 503.226.2377.

Bringing Human and Financial Capital to Social Change: Encore Innovation
PANEL: Jim Emerman, Executive VP, Civic Ventures; Yvonne Hunt, Chief Philanthropy Officer, Legacy Ventures and past VP of Global Philanthropy for HP; Leslye Louie, National Director, Encore Fellowships Network
Hear about new partnerships that are bringing human capital to the social innovation ecosystem by tapping the talent of boomers who want to move from success to significance by transferring their skills to social ventures. Through uniquely funded fellowships, corporate talent transitions to social purpose organizations through on-site experience that demonstrates the value and transferability of their skills, making a significant contribution to real impact.

ReVisioning Value | ReVV 2010: The Intersection of Purpose and Profit
Presented by Springboard Innovation
April 26-27th in Portland, Oregon

ReVV 2010 will bring together leaders from the varied fields of impact investing and social innovation to share how new models for both are increasing the flow of capital to the creation of a more just and sustainable world. The one day conference is followed by a day of hands-on workshops and strategic action roundtables designed to help participants apply the ideas offered at the conference to their own organizations and to create real tools and strategies as an outcome.

Volunteer Spotlight: Bill Horton

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

By Benjamin Collier

Bill Horton

Our community work would not be possible without the hard work of people like Bill Horton, a Mercy Corps Northwest volunteer for the past year. Horton’s expertise as a small business consultant has made him a valuable member of our team — and a great asset to our clients and the community.

Horton is a small business consultant with BizFix. He came to us with a background in customer service and sales training, skills that matched well with our business education programs. He had changed jobs “on the decade,” even earning his stripes as a small business owner through prior ownership of Port City Pasta Co., a Lake Oswego Italian deli and catering company.

A Natural Fit
When a friend told Horton about Mercy Corps Northwest, the light bulbs blinked
bright. “I thought, ‘That’s what I do!’” he recounted. Because he liked helping
small businesses get started and grow, Horton wanted to find out how he could help.
Before long, Horton was offering tips to supplement our Business Foundations class,
helping teach the class and even expanding the curriculum. By sharing insights from
his own business experiences, Horton gained credibility and rapport with Mercy Corps
Northwest clients. They saw him as one who had walked in their shoes. “When you have
actually done what they want to do, they have a level of trust and confidence in what
you’re saying,” he noted.

Knowing When to Pause
Horton has the real-world wisdom that can help students avoid expensive mistakes.
A successful student, for instance, is not necessarily the one with the flashiest plan.
Sometimes, not starting a business is a better idea than starting it.

“I can help figure out when the idea is just not ready or the timing isn’t right,” he
commented. “If the student can hit the pause button, that’s a success, too – they don’t
go into debt, and they’re not exposed to a lot of other problems.” What he likes best is
giving clients and students the tools to make informed decisions, “whatever that decision
is going to be.”

As Mercy Corps Northwest delivers needed business tools to our community, volunteers
like Bill Horton share credit for the successful enterprises our neighbors are able to build.

Categories: people Tags: ,

Financial Literacy Month with the Women’s Business Center

April 8, 2010 Leave a comment

SBAPlease join the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in recognition of National Financial Literacy Month. As part of National Financial Literacy Month, the SBA is proud to announce a series of webinars to help promote and increase the awareness of Financial Literacy. SBA will host a series of “FREE” Financial Education webinars highlighting the value of learning about managing money and its importance in fostering entrepreneurship. A complete schedule of webinar presenters will be posted on

Wednesday, April 14 & Wednesday, April 21
SBA will host a series of “FREE” Financial Education webinars
highlighting the importance of financial and business knowledge
DAILY 11 a.m. AND 3 p.m. EST

• Basic Banking/Financial Tips for Small Businesses
• The Importance of Financial Education in the Workplace
• Your Money, Your Choices, Your Future
• Personal and Business Money Management

Categories: resources

Volunteers Needed for Eat Mobile 2010!

April 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Eat MobileEat MobileWillamette Week’s annual Eat Mobile food cart event is coming up on Saturday April 24th, and all proceeds will be going towards the work we do at Mercy Corps Northwest. We’ve supported many food carts over the years with funding and small business training, including three who will be taking part in the event (Tabor, SoupCycle and Mono Malo). We’re looking for volunteers to help staff the event, which will feature over 30 food carts and live music. If you’re interested, please email Anu at

When: Saturday April 24th from 5:30-9:30pm. Volunteer shifts take place throughout the day from 10am for set up until 11:30pm for clean up.

Volunteers needed for:

LOAD-IN CREW (3 hours shifts from 10am-1pm and from 1pm-4pm)

Help unload rentals, setup tables, chairs, fencing, garbage cans etc., assist food carts with any needs, assist with bike racks

ID CHECKERS/WRISTBAND HANDLERS (FOR 21+ VOLUNTEERS) (2 hour shifts between 4-10pm)
Check ID’s (21 if born before on or before April 24, 1989), collect money for wristbands ($7), children 5 & under free, track attendees using clicker

ALCOHOL MONITORS (FOR 21+ VOLUNTEERS) (2 hour shifts between 4-10pm)
Check for wristbands on those drinking, look around for underage & intoxicated drinkers, keep an eye on exits making sure alcohol doesn’t leave event

AMBIANCE KEEPERS (2 hour shifts between 4-10pm)
Empty trash bags, bus/wipe down tables, pick up trash, maintain portapotties

CLEAN UP CREW (2 hour shift from 9:30-11:30pm)
Clean rental table & chairs, take down rentals, pick up trash, assist with bike racks, assist food carts with any needs

There will be an orientation session for volunteers (dates TBA) and all volunteers receive a badge to attend the festival for free.

Please let me (Anu, a task and/or time that interests you, and I’ll get you signed up. More information about the festival can be found on Willamette Week’s site:

Categories: in the community Tags: