Our Story

In 2017, four founders from diverse backgrounds came together with a vision -- to improve the services provided to small business owners in underserved communities. The original vision was:

 

"Omni Works’ purpose is to address the needs of underserved entrepreneurs in economically challenged communities through democratizing access to capital, markets, and financial and business education in support of startups and growth-stage companies, to create and sustain quality jobs, and to encourage wealth generation among women, people of color, veterans, and the LGBT community."

While we have gone thorough a number of iterations in response to participant feedback, changing economic realities, and a pandemic, the vision continues.  The barriers and inequities that inspired our work persist, and if anything, have become more acute.  We remain committed to changing how wealth is created and who benefits. 

Co-Founders

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Joni Topper

Co-Founder & President

Prior to joining OmniWorks™, Joni led the formation of JPMorgan’s Higher Education, Healthcare, Not-for-Profit and Government commercial banking practice in the Western states.

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Brent Imai

Co-Founder

Prior to founding OmniWorks™ in 2016, Brent served as the Head of Content Development at AT&T, where he oversaw the creation of new content and investment analysis for TV, online and mobile platforms

OmniWorks History

2017

  • OmniWorks is established by co-founders Brent Imai, Joni Topper, Mercedes Barajas Tondre, and Quentin Strode

2018

  • OmniWorks Economic Development is approved as a project of Community Partners (fiscal sponsor)

  • Launched Small Business Bootcamp and Incubator in collaboration with East LA College

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The program began with a weekend workshop for 75 entrepreneurs from East LA College and the surrounding

community.

 

During the second phase of the program, 45 participants received intensive training in business planning, professional skills, and strategy, as well as participating in two ELAC business department courses.

 

A final cohort of 15 companies was selected to participate in a personalized mentorship program and received access to professional services.

2019

  • Continuation of ELAC Incubator program

  • Small Business Bootcamp in collaboration with Los Angeles Urban League

2020

  • OmniWorks Economic Development Corporation granted 501(c)(3) status

  • Los Angeles Urban League Small Business Bootcamp

  • Designed and launched Magnolia Place/ USC program 

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This program consisted of 2 cohorts of 50 Spanish-speaking women who wanted to build their businesses.

 

The 5-week program was conducted in Spanish and included small group sessions facilitated by USC students.

  • Designed and administered a micro-grant program for Long Beach Economic Partnership

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The Long Beach Economic Partnership wanted to quickly provided 120 grants to small businesses who were not able to access other federal grant funding during the early stages of the COVID-19 lockdown.  Minority small business owners and those from LMI communities were prioritized. 

We partnered with the City of Long Beach Economic Development Department, Centro CHA, United Cambodian Community, Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion, Long Beach SBDC, and Business Improvement Districts to recruit applicants.  In addition to the grant, the program featured a financial management webinar and a 1-hour business consulting session.

  • Implemented online version of East LA College Incubator program for 45 student entrepreneurs and existing small businesses

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OmniWorks in collaboration with the ELAC Foundation quickly strategized and deployed an online incubator program in response to pandemic restrictions. The new plan launched the with the first workshop on June 2nd. 

 

The program consisted of two phases:

  1. a series of 15 workshops and

  2. an individualized mentorship phase. 

2021

  • Engaged by CAMEO to provide outreach and support to small businesses owners applying for the California Relief Grant

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During this year long program, we supported 500 small business owners applying for grant funding, resulting in more than $2.3 million in grants received.

  • Launched the UpLiftHer program for BIPOC women entrepreneurs with support from LISC and the Visa Foundation

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The UpLiftHer Program supported 60 BIPOC women business owners during 2 cohorts in which participants attended workshops and small group sessions for 5 weeks.

 

Topics covered included: finance, HR, capital strategy, legal, EQ, customers, and digital marketing.

More >

  • Developed technology program deployed for the Long Beach Economic Partnership serving 50 existing small businesses

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The Go Digital program provided training in computer basics, social media, and digital operations in response to the changes caused by the pandemic. The training workshops were complemented with individual 1-hour counseling sessions and a digital service package provided by local small businesses and Cal State Long Beach.

  • NEXT program launches

Help create the NEXT economy where wealth generation accrues to all.