RISE Campaign

YOU can help small businesses when they need it most!

WESST Rise logoAs COVID-19 pervades communities across New Mexico, local small businesses have been hit hard and fast. Our clients across all sectors are feeling the repercussions as they rapidly shift how they serve their customers imkn response to this pandemic. In this chaotic time filled with uncertainty, small businesses are bracing themselves for painful long-term impacts.

Small businesses need WESST’s help now more than ever, and we need you. Throughout this crisis, WESST’s expert consultants are continuing to serve our clients through remote consultations and trainings. We are preparing to adapt our services and serve an ever-expanding pool of clients statewide who will look to WESST for advice and support to make recovery possible. When we reach the light at the end of this tunnel, with your support, WESST will still be here prepared to serve New Mexico’s small business community at an even higher volume than usual.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of New Mexico’s economy, and they enrich our community in so many interesting, beautiful ways. Please join us in Responding to, Impacting, Supporting and Elevating our small business community in the wake of this pandemic by supporting the WESST RISE Campaign!

HOPE Loan Fund

People of color own half as many businesses as non-minorities and their businesses start and stay smaller in comparison. For Black and Indigenous Americans and people of color, the challenges are daunting.

  1. Black households in the US possess on average about one-tenth the median net worth of White households.
  2. Native Americans are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty as Americans overall (25.4% vs. 8.1% for White Americans).
  3. Latino households earn only 65% as much as White households on average.
  4. Black business owners start businesses with half the capital of White business owners.
  5. Loan denial rates for minority firms with gross receipts under $500,000 are three times higher than those of non-minority firms.

WESST is establishing the HOPE Loan Fund to “Help Open Possibilities for Everyone” by reducing barriers to accessing capital for people of color and historically marginalized populations. The Fund will offer no-fee loans ranging from $500 to $50,000 at 0% interest with a potential for a 10% loan forgiveness incentive per annum. The forgiveness incentive will be contingent on the borrower maintaining an active client relationship with WESST. In addition to waived fees, interest rates and a forgiveness incentive, the HOPE Fund will provide the opportunity to mitigate barriers associated with collateral, credit history and other financial challenges.

The Money Learning Lab™

An Achilles heel to entrepreneurial success is the lack of deep understanding of business financials. The Money Learning Lab™ (MLL) was seeded with a two-year grant from the Kauffman Foundation which supported a Human-Centered Design approach to help diverse entrepreneurs learn about the financial fitness of their business, connect entrepreneurs with financial and business experts who can help them address their most pressing financial and business issues and provide peer networking opportunities. Designed as an accessible mobile resource that can be offered in local neighborhoods where small business owners live and work, the MLL has been modified to be delivered virtually in response to COVID-19. Key to its success are partnerships with other community-based organizations and the provision of MLL services in both English and Spanish. MLL sessions are offered throughout the year.

Women Who RISE

Founded by women for women in 1989, WESST remains committed to serving the small business needs of New Mexico’s women. The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for all Americans; however, women are bearing an unusually high burden – they represent over 70% of healthcare and social workers; they are the predominant caregivers at home, particularly for school-age children; they are mobilizers in their local communities; and they earn only $.79 for every dollar earned by men.

To address some of the unique challenges facing women business owners, through June 2021 WESST will offer a special Women Who RISE Program which will provide women across New Mexico the opportunity to build business knowledge and skills and the space to be heard and respected as a small business owner. In addition to providing training and networking opportunities, the program will also recruit seasoned business owners and other female executives who will share their guidance and wisdom on making it as a woman-owned business.

La Escalera

La Escalera (the stairway) is a multi-week training program that provides a safe and welcoming environment in which immigrant entrepreneurs can gather with their peers, share concerns and gain access to services that will support them in pursuing their dreams of business ownership. Through the delivery of key entrepreneurial development services, La Escalera provides an accelerated pathway for immigrant entrepreneurs to: 1) formalize their business; 2) improve business skills in the areas of financial management, marketing and business compliance; 3) gain access to or improve use of banking services; and 4) join a network of support to start and grow their business. The program is offered in Spanish to a virtual audience throughout the state. La Escalera sessions are offered throughout the year.

To learn more about how to become a partner in supporting WESST RISE programs, please contact VP of Development Katie Knipe at kknipe@wesst.org or at 505-246-6935.

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