About

About

ABOUT US

Sustaining business in Philadelphia since 1854

The Merchants Fund has provided support to Philadelphia merchants during times of financial hardship since 1854. We envision a future where Philadelphia small businesses and their owners thrive and where talented and diverse merchants have equitable access to meaningful assistance, capital, and other resources necessary to build business, family, and community wealth. We give life to this vision through the strategic deployment of flexible capital including grantmaking and forgivable loans, values-aligned and mission-driven investments, and individualized business coaching for grantees.

STRATEGIC PLAN

In 2022, TMF completed a strategic framework and a new grant strategy, as well as shifted from being a private foundation to a public charity.

1854

The year The Merchants Fund was founded.

1,173

Total grants awarded to local small businesses since 2007.

$10.33M

The total sum of grants distributed to active merchants since 2007.

BOARD AND STAFF

Board of Managers

(Click on an image below for more info)

Kersy Azocar

President & CEO, Greenline Access Capital

Tom Ginsberg

Senior Officer, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia Research & Policy Initiative

Peter Gonzales

Lawyer & Consultant

Bruce Hotaling, CFA

Managing Director & Co-Founder, GYL Financial Synergies

James Johnson-Piett

Principal & CEO, Urbane

Seulky McInneshin

Managing Partner, Blue Square Advisors

Carey Morgan

Partner & Financial Advisor, Livelihood, LLC

Shawn Nesbit

President, Good Karma Cafe

Samantha Porter

Community Engagement Advisor & Outreach Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Elbert Sampson

Shalimar Thomas

President, The North Broad Renaissance

Joanna Winchester

Director of Training & Technical Assistance, PACDC

Ana Lisa Yoder

Founder & Principal, Yoder Consultancy

Dafan Zhang, JD MPA

CEO of OPB, Zhang Law; Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Lincoln University

Adnan Zulfiqar

Associate Professor of Law, Rutgers Law School

Franck Ouattara

Wharton MBA/MA '24 Visiting Board Fellow '23-'24

Stephen Serrao

Wharton MBA '24 Visiting Board Fellow '23-'24

Kimberly Zhang

Visiting Board Fellow '24-'25

Kersy Azocar

President & CEO, Greenline Access Capital

“Helping small businesses creates impactful socioeconomic opportunities for all.  I am driven by the concept of “Changing the Narrative” for so many small businesses, in particular those historically disadvantaged, and help them succeed, prosper and very importantly, help them create generational wealth”

Kersy Azocar’s Linkedin:

Tom Ginsberg

Senior Officer, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia Research & Policy Initiative

“Business ownership can be a path to financial security, independence, creativity, or just survival. But that path is underused and sometimes unappreciated in Philly. TMF is pushing back”

Tom Ginsberg’s Linkedin:

Peter Gonzales

Lawyer & Consultant

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of Philly, weaving rich cultural threads and economic resilience into the city’s neighborhoods.”

Peter Gonzales’s Linkedin:

Bruce Hotaling, CFA

Managing Director & Co-Founder, GYL Financial Synergies

I have been a part of the Merchants Fund for years now, and have seen its work and impact expand exponentially across Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. Our ability to respond quickly helping business owners and their families and neighbors, resonates strongly with me.

Bruce Hotaling, CFA’s Linkedin:

James Johnson-Piett

Principal & CEO, Urbane

TMF is a one-of-a-kind institution in Philadelphia (and the nation); there needs to be an entity like The Merchants Fund addressing the full spectrum of needs, challenges, and opportunities for the small merchant class of enterprises in Philly. After 150+ years, the work to build and sustain a city-wide support system for micro and small entrepreneurs – from issuing emergency grants to one-on-one advisory to managing large-scale funding program on behalf of government partner – is more critical than ever.

James Johnson-Piett’s Linkedin:

Seulky McInneshin

Managing Partner, Blue Square Advisors Seulky McInneshin’s Linkedin:

Carey Morgan

Partner & Financial Advisor, Livelihood, LLC

TMF is an incredible organization that meets the needs of those businesses that we all say we value, but don’t provide enough support to, especially in hard times. It’s an honor to contribute to such an organization with such a unique mission.

I grew up in a small family business and am a small business owner myself, so I think it’s important to make sure that the small business sector remains viable and local businesses thrive.

Carey Morgan’s Linkedin:

Shawn Nesbit

President, Good Karma Cafe Shawn Nesbit’s Linkedin:

Samantha Porter

Community Engagement Advisor & Outreach Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Samantha Porter’s Linkedin:

Elbert Sampson

“Serving on the board of TMF is important to me because it is an opportunity to use my experience and training to provide assistance to the small business community of Philadelphia. As small businesses are stabilized, they are better able to employ more people who are then able to stabilize their communities – all to the good of all of us.”

Shalimar Thomas

President, The North Broad Renaissance

TMF serves as an advocate and a voice for merchants across Philadelphia who are in need. They are impact-driven in every sense of the word, and I serve to support their leader, the work, and ultimately the tremendous impact TMF has in Philadelphia. Supporting local small businesses is a vibe. There’s something about walking into a store and knowing the owner and its employees, or if the owner is also a neighbor. It’s truly the definition of community and its economic development at its best. Supporting these businesses and helping them grow is a vibe that we should all try to embrace.

Shalimar Thomas’s Linkedin:

Joanna Winchester

Director of Training & Technical Assistance, PACDC Joanna Winchester’s Linkedin:

Ana Lisa Yoder

Founder & Principal, Yoder Consultancy

“I believe deeply in TMF’s commitment to addressing historical disparities in the small business community by focusing resources on BIPOC, immigrant and women-owned businesses. I feel genuinely lucky to serve alongside incredibly smart, thoughtful, and committed board members and staff, from whom I learn every time we come together.

Ana Lisa Yoder’s Linkedin:

Dafan Zhang, JD MPA

CEO of OPB, Zhang Law; Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Lincoln University

Adnan Zulfiqar

Associate Professor of Law, Rutgers Law School

“Service on the TMF board is important to me because it provides a crucial lifeline for businesses that are the soul of communities, anchors providing a link to the past, and vital for their prosperous futures.”

Adnan Zulfiqar’s Linkedin:

Franck Ouattara

Wharton MBA/MA '24 Visiting Board Fellow '23-'24

Stephen Serrao

Wharton MBA '24 Visiting Board Fellow '23-'24

Kimberly Zhang

Visiting Board Fellow '24-'25

Team

(Click on an image below for more info)

Jill Fink

Executive Director

George Pitsakis

Business Coach

Simon Wellman

Operations Manager

Chris Stanish

Business Support Services

Somalisa Sahoo

Advisor

Zyad Hamamou

Social Media Intern

NOW HIRING!

Jill Fink

Executive Director

I’m passionate about small businesses and the merchants who run them. I owned a cafe for 13 years and know that small businesses are the heart and soul of our communities. As a former TMF grantee (’08) and board member (’13-’18), I’m fortunate to be in this role providing critical grant and coaching support to those who breathe life and vitality into our neighborhoods.

Jill Fink’s Linkedin:

George Pitsakis

Business Coach

Historically, entrepreneurship has provided Americans–of all color, creed, and walk of life–the chance at greater financial independence and upward mobility. Not only this, but they often provide cultural, economic, public safety, and social value to the neighborhoods they are rooted in. Supporting small businesses is important to me because they afford all Americans some chance at upward economic mobility, while also making the places we live more vibrant and unique

George Pitsakis’s Linkedin:

Simon Wellman

Operations Manager

As one of the greatest “melting pots”, Philadelphia has a uniqueness that is highlighted in its small businesses and their owners. I’m passionate about supporting these businesses because they are what makes this city special. I truly believe that when small businesses thrive, so does the neighborhood/community they are in.

Simon Wellman’s Linkedin:

Chris Stanish

Business Support Services

While there is certainly plenty of work to be done, we also have such a great sense of purpose driven action amongst our staff. Utilizing & recognizing each of our strengths and perspectives enables us to really understand the various situations that business owners may find themselves in. TMF’s work is probably the most agile form of support that many of these small businesses will ever have, and I truly value what we do each day because we can give support when they need it

Chris Stanish’s Linkedin:

Somalisa Sahoo

Advisor

Serving with TMF is an honor as I join a long legacy of Philadelphians supporting the small business owners who undergird the authenticity and awesomeness of our great city.

Somalisa Sahoo’s Linkedin:

Zyad Hamamou

Social Media Intern Zyad Hamamou’s Linkedin:

NOW HIRING!

Job Postings:

Director of Program & Partnerships

Annual funding reports

The Merchants Fund is a Philadelphia charity established in 1854 to provide charitable gifts to business persons facing financial hardship. Our Mission is to provide financial assistance to current and past merchants in Philadelphia.


Stay updated

Connect with The Merchants Fund on social media to stay updated on grant cycles, applications, and inspiring grantee stories.


We are excited to announce that the Spring cycle of our ‘2024 Stabilization Grant Program’ is now live!

Stabilization Grants provide funding of up to $10,000 to help a business stabilize in the face of adversity, take advantage of an opportunity to grow, or increase profitability.

Visit merchantsfund.org/grants/stabilization for more info and when you’re ready to apply, click the link in our bio! 

#phillysupportphilly #phillymerchants #phillysmallbusiness

We are excited to announce that the Spring cycle of our ‘2024 Stabilization Grant Program’ is now live!

Stabilization Grants provide funding of up to $10,000 to help a business stabilize in the face of adversity, take advantage of an opportunity to grow, or increase profitability.

Visit merchantsfund.org/grants/stabilization for more info and when you’re ready to apply, click the link in our bio!

#phillysupportphilly #phillymerchants #phillysmallbusiness



Vientiane Cafe is known to locals as a Lao and Thai fusion restaurant. Established in 2002, it became the first restaurant in the Philadelphia area to offer Lao dishes with a twist. The bistro’s rich history combined with their commitment to utilize their grant to improve their business and the community around them earns them this week’s inspiring grantee spotlight.
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#smallbusiness #phillymerchants #smallbusinessupport #equitableaccess #diverseentrepreneurs 
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Check out @vientianebistro at their West Philly and Kensington locations to see for yourself how this inspiring grantee continues to thrive.

Vientiane Cafe is known to locals as a Lao and Thai fusion restaurant. Established in 2002, it became the first restaurant in the Philadelphia area to offer Lao dishes with a twist. The bistro’s rich history combined with their commitment to utilize their grant to improve their business and the community around them earns them this week’s inspiring grantee spotlight.
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#smallbusiness #phillymerchants #smallbusinessupport #equitableaccess #diverseentrepreneurs
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Check out @vientianebistro at their West Philly and Kensington locations to see for yourself how this inspiring grantee continues to thrive.




Enjoy all-you-can eat authentic Mexican food from some of the best restaurants in town all in one location at Bok on Thursday, September 28th at 6:00 pm. The 2nd Annual Taco Fiesta is a celebration of Mexican cuisine and culture in support of the work of the Association of Mexican Business Owners of Philadelphia. Desserts, aguas frescas, giveaways, live music and a fashion design performance included!
Be sure to invite your friends and colleagues to network while supporting our mission to empower immigrant-owned businesses in Philadelphia.
Thank you to our participating restaurants!

o Adelita Mexican Taqueria & Restaurant 
o Alma del Mar
o El Mezcal Cantina
o Los 4 Soles
o Los Taquitos de Puebla
o Marco's Fish & Crab House
o Mole Poblano Restaurant
o PhillyTacos
o Tamalex Resturant
o Taqueria Morales
o Tortilleria San Roman

Link in bio!

Enjoy all-you-can eat authentic Mexican food from some of the best restaurants in town all in one location at Bok on Thursday, September 28th at 6:00 pm. The 2nd Annual Taco Fiesta is a celebration of Mexican cuisine and culture in support of the work of the Association of Mexican Business Owners of Philadelphia. Desserts, aguas frescas, giveaways, live music and a fashion design performance included!
Be sure to invite your friends and colleagues to network while supporting our mission to empower immigrant-owned businesses in Philadelphia.
Thank you to our participating restaurants!

o Adelita Mexican Taqueria & Restaurant
o Alma del Mar
o El Mezcal Cantina
o Los 4 Soles
o Los Taquitos de Puebla
o Marco`s Fish & Crab House
o Mole Poblano Restaurant
o PhillyTacos
o Tamalex Resturant
o Taqueria Morales
o Tortilleria San Roman

Link in bio!



“Marcos and Alma own a beloved, local seafood spot in South Philly — @marcosfishandcrabhouse — and are also known for also being featured on Season 5 of Queer Eye on Netflix! Down the street, Nacho owns another loved Mexican-owned business named — "Taquitos de Puebla" and serves a very special Sopa Azteca, grilled nopales, and other exquisite Mexican dishes.

Both businesses have unfortunately been victims of vandalism and recently had their vehicles stolen in the summer of 2023. One was a refrigerated truck, which has been especially difficult for 'Marco's Fish' as their fish is fresh each day and requires transit to the restaurant. Now, without the truck, Marcos and Alma's business is at stake. Nacho also cannot make required pickups for his restaurant's ingredients.” 

Link in bio to donate

“Marcos and Alma own a beloved, local seafood spot in South Philly — @marcosfishandcrabhouse — and are also known for also being featured on Season 5 of Queer Eye on Netflix! Down the street, Nacho owns another loved Mexican-owned business named — "Taquitos de Puebla" and serves a very special Sopa Azteca, grilled nopales, and other exquisite Mexican dishes.

Both businesses have unfortunately been victims of vandalism and recently had their vehicles stolen in the summer of 2023. One was a refrigerated truck, which has been especially difficult for `Marco`s Fish` as their fish is fresh each day and requires transit to the restaurant. Now, without the truck, Marcos and Alma`s business is at stake. Nacho also cannot make required pickups for his restaurant`s ingredients.”

Link in bio to donate



We’re a proud recipient of @phillysjunited’s Partnership Grant Program. And we’re in great company! TMF is one of 100 grantees from a diverse network of organizations in Greater Philadelphia whose work helps people and families thrive. Learn more > https://unitedforimpact.org/nonprofit-partners/

We’re a proud recipient of @phillysjunited’s Partnership Grant Program. And we’re in great company! TMF is one of 100 grantees from a diverse network of organizations in Greater Philadelphia whose work helps people and families thrive. Learn more > https://unitedforimpact.org/nonprofit-partners/



Six months ago, @leesdeliphilly was destroyed. With grit, determination, and a community of support behind them, they re-opened last week.

Six months ago, @leesdeliphilly was destroyed. With grit, determination, and a community of support behind them, they re-opened last week.



Our spring grant cycle is now open! Application and eligibility requirements can be found at the link in our bio. This cycle will be open until 11:59pm on 5/31/23. #smallbusiness #phillysmallbusiness

Our spring grant cycle is now open! Application and eligibility requirements can be found at the link in our bio. This cycle will be open until 11:59pm on 5/31/23. #smallbusiness #phillysmallbusiness



Check out this story about @cosmicphilly in @phillyinquirer! #smallbusiness #supportsmallbusiness #phillysmallbusiness #philly

Check out this story about @cosmicphilly in @phillyinquirer! #smallbusiness #supportsmallbusiness #phillysmallbusiness #philly