This is a guest blog post by Kendra Ott, Associate Director of Business Advising at Pacific Community Ventures, a Kiva Zip Trustee.

Entrepreneur Corey Rennell saw that a lot of consumer-packaged goods were much more focused on profit than they were on peoples’ health and decided to do something about it. He founded CORE Foods on Earth Day 2010, significant because it is a nonprofit packaged food company that is good for you, good for the planet and good for the local community.

Since its start, CORE Foods has produced meal bars that are made with all organic ingredients and are perfect for on-the-go meals that are healthy and keep you full.  CORE has also worked hard to develop a robust online community around a concept called the ‘Core Challenge’, a program in which people eat mainly raw fruits and vegetables and a CORE meal every day for 30 days to become their healthier self.

“We’re more than a business,” says Rennell, “We’re leading a movement.”

Corey understands the value of a strong and supportive network, and CORE Foods has a number of ongoing mentors through Pacific Community Ventures (PCV), a 15-year-old nonprofit organization that matches small business owners with expert business advisors with the mission of growing small businesses across the country and creating quality jobs where they’re needed most. PCV’s network of over 300 advisors are all experts in their fields who volunteer their time to work with these small business owners to help PCV toward that mission.

“PCV has really encouraged us to  take the risks required to grow our business,” says Corey.

Of the advising that PCV has provided his company, Rennell says, “PCV is like having an older, wiser brother. You can call on them anytime, they’ve always got your back, and they know the right direction to point you when you reach a major crossroads. I just really can’t thank PCV enough for the support.” With the help of PCV advisors, CORE Foods has grown from two to nine employees since 2012, and has seen a 140% revenue growth over the last year.

James Hipkin is CORE Foods’ marketing advisor, and helps out when the team is making strategic changes in their packaging and strategy. The CORE Foods team also works with Alex Long, who has been helping them align QuickBooks with their inventory management system – a vital change, as inventory equity has gone up significantly as the business has grown.

In addition, PCV recently endorsed Corey for a loan on Kiva Zip. As a Kiva Zip Trustee, PCV has the ability to identify and vouch for entrepreneurs whose businesses they feel would benefit from a 0% interest, crowdfunded loan. Corey’s loan will fund the launch of a new flavor that will help CORE Foods' placement in additional Whole Foods regions.

PCV works with entrepreneurs like Rennell who share in the belief that strong small businesses mean a strong local economy, which leads to the creation of quality jobs for those who need them most. CORE Foods supports their employees in a way that helps them love the work they do every day.
To learn more about PCV’s Business Advising program, or to be matched with a PCV advisor of your own, check out
You can also support an entrepreneur in your own community by making a loan here!

 Author Bio: As PCV's Associate Director of Business Advising, Kendra is responsible for connecting small business owners with the resources they need to help them grow and create more jobs for California's lower income communities. To this end, Kendra works with volunteer business advisors, entrepreneurs, and partner community and economic development organizations. In addition to developing and managing relationships with a diverse community of stakeholders, Kendra supports the Business Advising Program through program administration, marketing and communications, events and research and evaluation.

Prior to joining PCV, Kendra completed her Masters Degree in International Development in London, as well as a Fellowship with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor at the World Bank in Washington, DC, where she worked with the Microfinance Gateway team. Her passion for community development and microfinance has also led to her involvement on projects working with the municipal governments in Tanzania and East London, as well as spending time with BRAC in Bangladesh. She currently serves as Vice Chair for the Strategy Group within the San Francisco Economic Development Alliance, and volunteers for the Silicon Valley Microfinance Network.
Before going back to school, Kendra worked in marketing for two Silicon Valley start-ups and managed fundraising campaigns and events for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in San Francisco. Kendra holds a BA in International Relations from Boston University and a MS in International Social Development from University College London.

About the author

Sarah Tait