July 1, 2017
SAN FRANCISCO — Undiscovered SF, a monthly Filipino American night market aimed at jumpstarting several Fil-Am enterprises, will kick off in August at the San Francisco Mint.
Guided by a young, Manila-born entrepreneur, the market is envisioned to feature fashion and accessories, technology products, handicrafts and housewares, artwork, health and wellness products and even social activism organizations.
Food vendors, thus far, include Janice Dulce's F.O.B. Kitchen, Ronnie Taylor and Tim Luym's Alchemy SF, Deanna Sison Foster's Mestiza Taqueria, Kristen Brillantes and JP Reyes' Sarap Shop, and Jay-Ar Isagani Pugao's No Worries Cuisine. Sweet offerings include Jason Angeles' FK Frozen Custard and Sugar and Spun.
"We're calling all artists and merchants to join us in jumpstarting a new Filipino American renaissance," says Kultivate Labs Executive Director Desi Danganan.
Free entertainment will be provided, including music, urban dance, DJ sets, spoken word and even martial arts.
Organized by Kultivate Labs, a non-profit organization that mentors aspiring entrepreneurs, the night market aims to jump-start the economic activity at and create public awareness of SOMA Pilipinas.
SOMA (South of Market) Pilipinas was designated as the city's Filipino Cultural District last year. It stretches from 2nd St. to 11th St., bordered by Market and Brannan streets.
"We're looking for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations from the Fil-Am community who want to showcase their brands and represent the versatility of our community," says Danganan.
One of the objectives of Undiscovered SF is to allow Kultivate Labs to identify emerging business ventures and assist in accelerating their growth.
Selected vendors will be given mentorship and workshops on topics such as branding, accounting, legal, crowdfunding, etc.
"Our vendors will all be in different stages in the lifecycle of their business and we'll adapt our services to meet their needs. Once we know who the A players are, we'll set them up for long term growth opportunities.
"This way, we can begin to populate SOMA Pilipinas with a new wave of Fil-Am entrepreneurs that are financially resilient and can adapt to the market needs to all San Franciscans, and not just a small segment of our community," explains Danganan.
Need for assistance
Kultivate Labs was established after a survey of Fil-Am entrepreneurs revealed that there was no organization to facilitate their success.
"There's a host of non-profit business incubators out here in San Francisco, but what makes us different is our laser focus on the Fil-Am community and our innovative programs that build on the foundational programs of our partner organizations like Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center," Danganan clarifies.
Danganan is also the Economic and Workforce Development chair for SOMA Pilipinas. He previously opened a restaurant and a café before starting his own business mentoring consultancy, Plinth Agency, and has more than a decade's experience of helping grow business in the food, music and technology areas.
"Kultivate Labs is my way of giving back to our community. It's been a personal passion of mine to help the cultural district succeed."
Born in Manila and raised in West Covina, California, Danganan moved to San Francisco in 1999. He has seen the city's struggles with economic forces that result in gentrification and displacement as well as "the class wars that were dividing the city between the haves and have-nots."
"We're all chasing the American Dream. But with great privilege comes a responsibility to be a good neighbor, to find ways to bridge the gap."
"The media likes to portray entrepreneurship as a surefire way to success. It's not. It's extremely tough." Nonetheless, he says that business doesn't need to be cutthroat and winner-take-all.
"We can all come up together. SOMA Pilipinas is a once in a lifetime opportunity for entrepreneurs to fulfill the dreams of our forefathers before us that came to the US to build a better life, to stake a claim in the American Dream. There's room for all us to prosper and thrive."
"If all goes according to plan, by the 2020s, we'll have a vibrant commercial corridor filled with new Fil-Am restaurants, cafes, retail concepts, innovative placemaking initiatives, outdoor markets, etc., for all of San Francisco to enjoy."
"Undiscovered SF" launches on Aug. 18, 2017 and will then be held every third Friday thereafter at The San Francisco Mint, 5th St., San Francisco. Visit UndiscoveredSF.com.