Home Podcast Impactful Investing in Diverse Founders with Oralia Alvarez

Impactful Investing in Diverse Founders with Oralia Alvarez

by Neal Bloom

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Oralia Alvarez plays a key role as the Director of Business Development at San Diego’s Founders First Capital Partners; however, she didn’t always know she would work on the impact side of business. 

Kicking off her career in real estate and sales, she worked as a ‘bird dog,’ sourcing deals from other real estate professionals for properties that never made it to market. In real estate, for investors to make a decent profit, agents need to secure property that has not hit the market, so this is what she did for around eight years. While she did a lot of networking in this industry, she felt as if she was constantly winning on someone else’s losses, which didn’t sit right with her. 

Oralia came upon the opportunity to acquire a vineyard and worked in winemaking for five years, just exiting day-to-day operations about a year ago. While creating wine, she focused on sustainability and ingredient-sourcing. This opened up her eyes to impactful business, and encouraged her to network with other San Diegans in the impact industry. A few connections down the road, she was introduced to Kim Folsum, the founder and current CEO of Founders First. 

Shortly after, she joined Founders First, the largest national platform for diverse businesses that lends to people of color, women, veterans, the LGBTQ+ community, and low income communities. With each investment, the team focuses on three prongs: mentorship, funding, and advisory support. Honing in on their revenue-based financing model, they have helped out 400 businesses within the last five years alone. 

Oralia notes that during the pandemic, small businesses were primarily focused on surviving, and secondarily on thriving – regardless of access to financial resources. Through Founders First’s program, small businesses learn how to scale given financial restraint in an ever changing environment. 

Oralia has acknowledged a few trends in the last year. She noticed a rapid increase in entrepreneurship with service-based businesses thriving. She thinks that business owners are prepared for what the rest of the year will look like, and attributes this confidence to the more cohesive and equal environment for diverse founders beginning to make headway. 

In the last year, Founders First has achieved new partnerships, completing a $9 million Series A led by the Surdna Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation. This helps the team get more capital out the door, with the goal of funding at least 20 more companies by the end of the year. 

Listen in to hear about how Founders First Capital Partners helps diverse founders grow and how impact fuels Oralia’s passion. 


Oralia’s Favorite Tacos:

El Veganito in La Mesa

Connect with Oralia: 


Keep up with Founders First Capital Partners:



Facebook: @f1stcp

Thanks to our partners at Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.

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