In an effort to grow small business and support minority business owners in partnership with Local First Arizona, Arizona Federal Credit Union is one of the financial literacy partners for the We Rise and Fuerza Local accelerator programs. These programs focus on providing Black and Hispanic business owners with the support and resources to succeed while strengthening the strong small business community that Arizona has fostered.
Both programs involve no fees, have cohorts that last six months and provide structured classroom experience to learn from other minority business leaders and experts like those from Arizona Federal. Support provided by the local credit union helps business owners take necessary steps to expand their operations with confidence. By identifying common entrepreneurial pitfalls, like remembering to pay yourself first when starting a business, Arizona Federal helps participants avoid making those mistakes so they can focus on how to make their business thrive, not just survive.
“While oftentimes the focus of business finances is eligibility for loans and navigating the application and approval process, we take a step back to look at overall finances and strategy for each participant,” said Mohammed Ahmad, Arizona Federal branch manager. “This isn’t a program for unmotivated folks. Our recommendations become an action plan and participants have regular check-ins to track their progress, troubleshoot issues, and keep them motivated to press on and conquer obstacles in their way.”
Arizona Federal’s participation will expand the scope of financial support Local First provides for their programs. For example, the We Rise program offers cohort participants the opportunity to have Local First match their savings after opening an account with Arizona Federal Credit Union.
“Small businesses experience many road-blocks, which can lead to frustration,” said Ahmad. “This opportunity has shown me that small suggestions and advice can make a huge difference. For instance, banking with a local financial institution gives them increased likelihood of loan approval because of the more personal service they receive versus defaulting to a computer-driven algorithm that larger banks often utilize.”
This partnership enables Arizona Federal to directly support the diverse communities they serve while aligning with their commitment to build up the local economy and businesses that make Arizona unique.