Alfa Demmellash

Co-Founder, CEO, Rising Tide Capital

Jersey City, NJ

Accelerate Collaboration, Cultivate Connection, Prioritize Equity  |  Community Capital, Community Economic Development, Funding / Investment, Incubator / Accelerator, Technical Assistance

Alfa focuses on economic empowerment as a strategy to achieve peaceful societies.

Alfa is the co-founder and CEO of Rising Tide Capital, a nonprofit that supports under-served entrepreneurs in low income urban communities to start and grow successful businesses. In 2012, Alfa was recognized as one of Forbes’ Most Powerful Women Changing the World. In 2010, Alfa was awarded honorary doctorate from St. Peter’s University and New Jersey City University. In 2009, Alfa was profiled as a CNN Hero, and recognized by President Barack Obama during a speech at the White House. Alfa currently serves on the boards of St. Peter’s University and BALLE. Born and raised in Ethiopia, Alfa came to the U.S. at age 12 with a keen interest in poverty alleviation and conflict resolution. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 2003.


  • In 2016, on average, a new Rising Tide Business (a business owned/operated by a graduate of the Community Business Academy) opened every three days.
  • In 2016, Rising Tide Businesses created 334 jobs in our local community.

  • As of December 31, 2016, 921 of the 1,770 graduates of the Community Business Academy (called Rising Tide Entrepreneurs) were “in business.”

  • Within two years of graduating from the Community Business Academy, Rising Tide Entrepreneurs experience a 67% increase in average business sales, a corresponding 49% increase in average household income, and a 48% decrease in use of public assistance.
  • In 2013, Saint Peter’s University and Rising Tide Capital signed a historic agreement enabling qualified graduates of Rising Tide Capital’s 12-week Community Business Academy (CBA) to receive up to six college credits through prior learning experience from the School of Professional and Continuing Studies at Saint Peter’s University.