Cultivate Small Business

Take your food business to the next level.

Santander Bank’s Cultivate Small Business program is designed to help early-stage entrepreneurs like you: women, people of color, and immigrants working to build and sustain food-related businesses in emergent neighborhoods in Massachusetts. The 16-week (fully virtual) program is
completely free to entrepreneurs and provides you with industry specific education, networks and mentoring, along with the opportunity to apply for capital grants for your business. 
Applications for this round have closed. We are currently recruiting mentors.


Use your skills to support a growing food business in MA or NJ!

We are seeking professionals connected to the food industry -- food business owners, investors, distributors, product developer, buyer, consultant, real estate developer!

Your role:

  • Be a sounding board for a small food business: Provide a sounding board for your mentee's decisions, challenges, and questions. By sharing advice and encouragement, you will help a growing food business owner develop confidence and make decisions about their business growth.
  • Be part of a mentor network: You will be part of a network of 60 food industry expert mentors, and have an opportunity to build relationships in this network monthly.
Time Commitment
8 hours between mid-April through the end of June. After getting matched with a mentee, you will meet for an hour every 2 weeks.

Please fill out this commitment form by March 25th!

Questions? Contact our team at

Applicant Criteria for Cultivate Small Business

Program participants should represent a business that meets the following criteria:

  • Participants should reside in or represent a business located in a low-to moderate-income urban area in Massachusetts or New Jersey.
  • Gross/Net revenues of $25,000 to $1,000,000 in the most recent full calendar year.
  • Minimum of 1 year in operation as of January 1, 2021.
  • Between 1 and 10 full-time-equivalent employees.
  • Food-related industries, including processing, technology, manufacturing, and food services.
NOTE: Applicants do not need to meet all criteria in order to be considered for acceptance.

Questions about the program? Contact


The program will have a business education customized to focus on topics pertinent to food businesses. These sessions will be taught virtually by current Babson College professors.


Program participants will be connected to mentors who can help address challenges and goals the participant will determine at the beginning of the program. The mentors will work with the participants through the course of the program.

Capital Grants

During the program and following successful completion of the program, all participants will be eligible to apply for grant funding up to $10,000 with the chance to apply for additional capital.

Program Timeline

The program runs from April–June, 2021.



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