What happens when you get a business that combines innovation, a passion for social change, and a touch of Oakland soul?

You get businesses like Beulah’s Bean Truck, an ice cream truck turned coffee mobile serving fresh brews at First Friday and other spots around town. They were chosen over Peet’s Coffee to be the resident coffee truck at Alta Bates Medical Center.

You also get Shift Local, a company that makes buying in Oakland hella fun. They specialize in creative social campaigns, contests and events that get folks to support independent, locally owned businesses.

In other words, you get some pretty amazing companies that happen to be nominees of the 9th annual Oakland Indie Awards.

Tonight these nominees and other local artists and businesses are being honored for that innovation, activism and soul. Nominees encompass the diversity and entrepreneurial drive that set Oakland dollars in motion.

One nominee for Innovative Newcomer is EduCents, an online marketplace connecting educators to teaching resources at affordable prices.

Founders Kate Whiting and Kaitlyn Trabucco met at Mills College and developed the concept out of their frustration of seeing teachers pay full prices out of pocket for education materials.

The pair chose to stay in Oakland and now happily operate from of their Jack London Square offices.

“Education in Oakland is so progressive here,” says Trabucco.”They’re really embracing technology along with education.”

A partnership with Oakland Unified School District is now in the works.

Cafe Gabriela owner Penny Baldado struggled to make her way in the Bay Area.

As a formerly undocumented immigrant, she worked in restaurants to support herself but couldn’t find many opportunities to pursue her dream of opening one of her own. After taking classes and receiving enough financial support through community programs, she was able to open a restaurant in Downtown Oakland.

“I feel like Oakland had that space for me… being a person of color, being queer and being an immigrant.”

Five years later, the eatery that serves meals reminiscent of home is nominated for an Oakland Soul award.

Social Changemaker nominee and Oakland native Regina Evans knew that sex trafficking was an issue she wanted to combat when she moved back home.

Her vintage boutique Regina’s Door partners with the Bay Area anti-sex trafficking organization Love Never Fails and now trains former victims of sex trafficking in entrepreneurial skills. She also opens her space in Uptown to local artists and performers.

And these businesses only scratch the surface of the great work happening here in the Town.

To hear about more companies making an impact in Oakland, and to find out who takes the crown in each category, check out the Oakland Indie Awards tonight at 6:30 in the Market Building at Jack London Square.

This post was sponsored by Oakland Indie Awards.


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