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About Opportunity Main Street

Opportunity Main Street, LLC is part of an ecosystem of social enterprises working to  make finance regenerative, accessible, democratic, and socially just

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Our Theory of Change

Almost every program that promises access to capital for small businesses falls far short of its promises.  These programs may provide introductions and opportunities to pitch to banks, angel investors, and VCs, but very little money actually flows to the participants.

This is because these sources of funding are the wrong fit for the vast majority of small business owners.  Most small business owners need access to patient, supportive funding that does not require them to comply with strict covenants, make onerous monthly payments, or try to become the next unicorn.

The best source of investment capital for these businesses is the vast untapped pool of individual, non-professional investors who currently invest most of their capital in the stock market.

 

If metro Baltimore households shifted just one percent of their investments to local business, that would be an infusion of over $26 billion of investment capital.

 

And Baltimore has already demonstrated its willingness to invest in local business!  Our partner organization, Community Wealth Builders, has supported over 70 businesses with Reg CF campaigns to raise nearly $4.8 million from roughly 10,250 small investors.  The vast majority of these businesses (89%) are owned by people of color.

 

The failure of existing capital markets to meet the needs of small, local and minority-owned businesses in Baltimore underscores the need for a new tool like investment crowdfunding to finally move the needle on access to supportive capital for underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Unlike other sources of capital, women and people of color have greater success with investment crowdfunding than their white male counterparts.

According to a recent report by Crowdfund Capital Advisors, 81% of all women and minority offerings were successful in their funding rounds in comparison to an industry average of 69%. Startups with minority founders received 25.4% of dollars invested in Reg CF equity deals in 2022.

Our goal is to provide an ecosystem of support so that underrepresented entrepreneurs can successfully reach their funding goals using Regulation Crowdfunding and do it in a way that is legally compliant and designed to be in alignment with their long term needs and goals.  For those that achieve this, Opportunity Main Street will provide access to follow on funding in larger amounts from its impact investment fund.

Meet The Team

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Jenny Kassan

Founder & CEO

Jenny has over 25 years of experience as an attorney and advisor for mission-driven enterprises. 

She is the author of Raise Capital on Your Own Terms: How to Fund Your Business without Selling Your Soul (Berrett-Koehler, October 2017).

Jenny earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and a masters degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley.

Jenny co-founded the Force for Good Fund, an impact investment fund managed by Community Ventures, a nonprofit organization that Jenny founded in 2008.

Jenny’s legal practice, The Kassan Group, provides legal services, coaching, and consulting for mission-driven companies, investors, and intermediaries.

Jenny served on the Securities and Exchange Commission Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies. She submitted the petition to the SEC that led to the passage of the 2012 JOBS Act and was present at the White House signing ceremony.

April and Tyron Harper

Directors of Innovation & Impact

April and Tyron founded a social enterprise based in Baltimore called Harp Vision.

Harp Vision offers wellness products through channels including Lexington Market and through partnerships in the hospitality industry. They also recently launched a service to help organizations raise funding by offering their products.

They are passionate about community wellness and social enterprise.

“Because we are a social enterprise in Baltimore, we want to make an impact. It’s important to us to hire from the community and make a difference,” says Tyron. “Our goal is to foster relationships where we can be profitable, but it’s also to come back into the community and educate people not only on plant-based body care but also on social entrepreneurship.”
April and Tyron were selected for the Empower by GoDaddy entrepreneurship program and have been featured in People, World in Black, Ebony, Yahoo Finance, and more.

Michelle Thimesch

Founder & Crowdfunding Director

Michelle is a licensed business and securities lawyer who has worked with closely held small businesses for more than two decades. In this role, she has focused on finance for growth and succession planning. As part of this work, she became a certified community mediator and business coach to understand the interpersonal and communications challenges that arise when high stakes, emotionally charged transitions are undertaken.

Michelle has been an investor in alternative assets and an affordable housing developer. In 2014, she introduced a sustainable building system to the community of Richmond, California and built the first two steel frame and ESP foam houses in that city. A local affordable housing developer has adopted this system and implemented an apprenticeship training program that creates high-paying jobs for disadvantaged young adults and formerly incarcerated individuals.

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