For the vast majority of small business owners, owning and operating a business isn’t simply a job. The business brings feelings of joy, frustration, extreme pride, overwhelming stress, and, above all, a deep sense of purpose and commitment to both the product and the customer. This is often particularly true for the neighborhood businesses that make each part of Philadelphia unique and special.

Many of the coaching and technical assistance programs for small businesses focus solely on traditional business metrics: revenue growth, number of jobs created, and amount of capital raised. We are taking a new approach.

Beyond the Grant (BtG) focuses on the business owner’s quality of life. Our approach is highly individualized, focusing on the unique goals and vision of each individual entrepreneur. While one business owner may want to rapidly scale and increase sales, another may be profitable but in need of finding a better work/life balance.

It is important to understand that for many businesses growth is just one of many desired outcomes. Increasing profitability, developing a stable retirement plan, pivoting the business to e-commerce in light of the current pandemic, opening a second and third location, or transitioning the business to the next generation are all worthy goals. Beyond the Grant will work with entrepreneurs to solidify a strategic plan and vision for the business, and provide the coaching and mentorship needed to help each business owner reach their individual goals.

Complete our Inquiry Form to learn more and register for a required informational session. Deadline is May 18th, 2021.

For additional questions, please contact The Merchants Fund at 215.399.1339 or email George at

Program Overview

Beyond the Grant is only available to Merchants Fund grantees.

Curriculum Highlights

Each cohort will have roughly ten businesses enrolled. BtG will provide 6 months of intensive business mentorship and coaching, along with monthly workshops and peer to peer learning sessions. The program has a strong group of advisors and partner organizations to assist in nearly any business issue from financial to legal to digital commerce and IT. 

What BtG Participants Will Gain:Participant Expectations:
– A strategic plan with executable action items, strategic goals, and tracking metrics
– A financials analysis of the business along with financial projections
– Up to 12 workshops and peer to peer learning sessions around topics such as Exit Strategies, Profit Sharing, Basic Business Financials, and Communicating Your ‘Why’ to Key Constituents.
– Individualized accounting and bookkeeping assistance
– Cohort members must be willing and able to commit 10-15 hours a month to focus on the development and implementation of their strategic goals
– Willingness to share business and personal financials and processes with BtG advisors
– Engage in peer-group sessions and workshops
– A genuine commitment to developing one’s business
– A willingness to learn and grow

While the market rate for a unique opportunity such as this would be approximately $5,000, Beyond the Grant is available to TMF grantees free of charge. Thus, we ask that entrepreneurs make sure they have the time, desire, and ability to commit to this intensive program prior to submitting the full application.

Our team

Lead Coach – George Pitsakis

George Pitsakis is a Philly area native and proud South Philly homeowner. His professional roots lie in small business–having worked as a nonprofit small business lender, controller for a growing wholesale bakery, and now as an owner and operator of his own business–Juniper Muay Thai Gym. 

George comes from three generations of Philly small business owners–his grandparents immigrating from Greece and opening a diner in Kensington, his father owning and operating a plumbing company in Oak Lane, and his own opening of a Thai Boxing Gym in South Philadelphia. His experience working on and in small business – across multiple facets – provides a unique and real-world skill set. 


Here’s what business owners, who have engaged with The Merchants Fund’s technical assistance and personalized coaching, had to say: 

‘Over the years I have seen my small business owner friends struggle with low profit margins, high workload, and little opportunity for work-life balance…. Thanks to the coaching sessions through The Merchants Fund, I am happy with the rate of growth at which it is developing and my level of control over it. These coaching sessions have been a godsend. I didn’t know how much I needed administrative support and financial  literacy until I had access to it. Being able to filter my ideas and plans (through a practical business lense) with someone like Goerge has been game changing.’

– Ana Caballero – Proyecto Tamal

‘I really appreciate the humanity of this structure and cohort. Rather than just force feeding us business principles, like foie gras ducks, there is a spaciousness and patience to keep us herded in a common direction…  I am finding these conversations very holistic and really revelatory.  How we work/struggle/acknowledge opportunity and hopefully implement change, also heals our generational and family of origin deficits.’

– Sharon Sherman – Empirical Point Acupuncture

‘Overall it has been a huge asset for me to have someone I trust to answer questions and offer perspective. George has helped me understand my own business with greater clarity, and he’s helped me work towards the goals that I will likely achieve.’

– Justin Turkus, Rabbit Ears, LLC


Interested in learning more about the program? Complete our Inquiry Form to learn more and register for a required informational session. Deadline is May 18th, 2021. For additional questions, please contact The Merchants Fund at 215.399.1339 or email George at