Local entrepreneurs and small businesses have a tough time getting things off the ground, especially in areas where resources, or proximity to resources, are limited, like in rural parts of the state. But the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is looking to bridge that gap through a recent grant it received, which will allow minority business owners and entrepreneurs access to funding in order to better serve their communities.

The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recently landed a $650,000 grant to make it easier for these business leaders to get their projects going, even in areas where it’s hard to access financial support. The two-year grant is the American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian grant, commonly referred to as the AIANNH Project from the Bureau of Minority Business Development Agency inside the U.S. Department of Commerce. It will be used to develop trainings, workshops, and provide additional technical support to communities that fall under the AIANNH umbrella.

“With this grant we saw it as a way to work with another partner for another part of our community, the Native American community. About 26% of the chamber members identify as Native Americans, so this was a natural fit,” said Kaaren-Lyn Graves, Senior Business Consultant for the HCC. “What we want is revenue generating businesses creating jobs that can be sustaining and long-term with livable wages for our rural communities.”

According to a 2016 report from the Center for Global Policy Solutions, the racial gap in business ownership is costing the U.S. as much as $300 billion in lost income and as many as nine million jobs. In another report from the Kellogg Foundation, it’s predicted that by 2050, the majority of the working-age population will be non-white, with a combined 39 percent of the population identifying as Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Islander. This illustrates a huge opportunity for investment in minority small business owners.

What’s more, the latest census data shows that minority-led firms grew by nearly 59 percent from 2007-2012 in Arizona. This included 63 percent for Hispanic-owned businesses. The trend is expected to continue in the 2020 census.

However, according to Graves, regardless of race or color, starting a business or finding funding for a new project comes with its own broad list of challenges.

“With entrepreneurs, they don’t know where to start. They have an idea, but nowhere to go,” she said. “We encourage them to get incorporated and have a revenue generating business entity. And after that part, now what? They need access to capital. That’s a big challenge.”

The grant money is currently available for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the AIANNH community in Arizona. It’s a centralized approach to funding small businesses and stripping away the various roadblocks that come with not knowing where to start.

And besides just writing checks and releasing the money for those who receive funding, the HCC is also offering up workshops and development training for business owners who need help fine-tuning their business skills and getting connected with others in their entrepreneurial community.


This story was originally published at Chamber Business News.