Our First HOPE Loan Fund Recipient – Breanna Tso

By Katie Knipe | June 1, 2021

The HOPE Loan Fund: Helping Open Possibilities for Everyone

A key contributor to economic inequality in the United States are the large and persistent racial and ethnic disparities found in business ownership and performance. Barriers that minorities face when trying to start and grow businesses create losses in economic efficiency, especially through their effects on limiting job creation, wealth accumulation and local economic growth. A few barriers to accessing capital that particularly impact Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs include lack of initial wealth, financial literacy, education and managerial experience.

To address racial and income inequities, WESST launched the HOPE Fund (Helping Open Possibilities for Everyone), a “no barriers to accessing capital” approach for people of color and low-wealth New Mexicans. The overall objective of the HOPE Fund is to facilitate access to no-cost capital for people of color and marginalized populations who have had significant challenges in accessing small business capital. Equally important, the HOPE Fund will surround borrowers with robust supportive capacity-building business services to increase the likelihood of long-term business sustainability.

WESST is proud to introduce our first HOPE Loan Fund borrower, Breanna Tso, owner of Tokin Tarot in Kirtland, NM. Breanna began working on her business with WESST about 2 years ago. She is a Native American Woman of low wealth who experienced a mentally, physically, and financially abusive relationship that left her in near ruins. Breanna discovered metaphysical healing arts as a form of therapy and pulled herself out of despair. She believes in the importance of sharing this art form with her community and is an advocate for improving mental health.

After identifying a need for capital in a consultation with Dawn Facka, Regional Manager of WESST Farmington Women’s Business Center, Dawn and Breanna met with WESST’s Loan Department to discuss some possible solutions. Breanna was quickly identified as a HOPE Loan candidate. Through the process of applying, she learned about the intricacies of putting together a business plan and gained some important financial skills while working on her cash flow. The HOPE Loan helped Breanna obtain inventory for a backlog of orders she was receiving. She sells crystal gems, smudging herbs, and other accessories. The HOPE Loan also helped her make up a difference in collateral she pledged. Sandro Tonini, WESST’s Director of Lending, worked closely with her on her credit to overcome some of the financial burdens she was left with after her abusive relationship ended. Breanna’s ultimate goal is to open a storefront and she is using the GoDaddy training she participated in with WESST to launch her eCommerce site. She continues to participate in training and consulting from WESST’s Farmington Women’s Business Center.

“The Farmington Women’s Business Center and the WESST Loan program has been such a huge blessing to me. Before I started my business journey I was not in a good place, very unsure of myself and lacking confidence that I could be a business owner.  I knew I was not financially stable enough to start my own business and scared of being rejected due to credit issues. Words can’t describe how hopeful I feel.  I could not have done this without Dawn, Holly, and Sandro helping me make my dreams come true.  WESST is amazing and beyond helpful.”

WESST is proud to support Breanna as she realizes her entrepreneurial dreams! Keep an eye out for Tokin Tarot’s website, and in the meantime, you can find the shop @tokin_tarot on Instagram and Facebook.

We appreciate the organizations and individuals who have supported the HOPE Loan Fund. We are particularly grateful for the grant support we received from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund. Thank you for helping us open possibilities for anyone who wants to start their own business!


About the Author

Katie Knipe

Katie Knipe

Katie Knipe is the VP of Development for WESST and has worked in nonprofit management and arts administration for the past decade. She has dedicated her career to fundraising for organizations whose missions fuel her fire, including those who promote classical music performance and who serve people experiencing homelessness.

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