N.M. Delegation Announces Over $2 Million for WESST to Invest in Entrepreneurs, Support Small Businesses, and Drive Economic Development in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE — U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) welcomed $2,250,000 in federal funding from the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to support Women’s Economic Self-Sufficiency Team, Corp. (WESST) in their work to expand opportunities for underserved entrepreneurs and drive economic development in New Mexico.
“We can’t grow New Mexico’s economy without the incredible talent and potential of the aspiring entrepreneurs in our state. That is what this investment is all about,” said Heinrich. “By equipping New Mexicans with the tools they need to successfully own and operate their small businesses, we’re creating more pathways to the middle class, driving economic development, and investing in our communities for the future.”
“In New Mexico, small businesses play a vital role in our communities and serve as the driving force behind our local economies,” said Luján. “That’s why I’m pleased to welcome strong federal investments to help New Mexico’s underserved entrepreneurs overcome the systemic barriers that they face every day. WESST is committed to growing a diverse entrepreneurial workforce, and these investments will expand its capabilities to promote opportunities for local entrepreneurs and bolster our state’s economy.”
“We are honored and thrilled about this multi-year grant award from MBDA,” said Agnes Noonan, President of WESST. “For WESST to be one of 43 organizations to be selected for this award is a testament to the hard work of our incredible staff who are committed to a more inclusive economy for women, persons of color, immigrants, LGBTQ and other diverse individuals. With this new MBDA award, WESST will launch a 4-year CAP-Ability Project which will provide financial capability training and assistance with accessing capital for New Mexicans who have experienced systemic barriers when starting or growing a business.”
WESST received federal funding from the following agencies:
- $2,000,000 through MBDA’s Capital Readiness Program to launch the WESST CAP-Ability Project in mid-2023.
This project will provide comprehensive small business capacity-building services, access to capital, and access to networks that will help socially and economically distressed individuals (SEDI) in both rural and urban areas of New Mexico start new businesses and scale existing ones.
This project aims to have 663 program graduates, with 333 improving their creditworthiness and making pitches to capital providers. Additionally, it will assist SEDI entrepreneurs raise $10 million in capital, with 387 SEDI-owned businesses formed and/or scaled.
- $250,000 through SBA’s Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME) to enable WESST to offer comprehensive, bilingual entrepreneurial development services to disadvantaged New Mexicans.
These services will be targeted to native Spanish speakers throughout the state and individuals residing in rural New Mexico. WESST will serve a total of 400 rural and Spanish-speaking individuals, which will result in the start-up of 50 new businesses, the stabilization or growth of 50 existing businesses, and the creation or retention of 150 jobs.
Founded in 1989, Women’s Economic Self-Sufficiency Team, Corp dba WESST is a 501(c)(3) statewide organization and New Mexico’s third largest economic development organization. WESST is committed to growing New Mexico’s economy via entrepreneurship. WESST’s mission is to be a home to entrepreneurs by providing a support system for our clients so they can successfully grow their business through market penetration, job creation and capital accumulation. With a 33-year history of serving women, people of color and low-wealth New Mexicans, WESST offers comprehensive business development services from the pre-startup stage through growth and repositioning. Over the past 3 decades, WESST has facilitated the start-up of 2,610 new businesses, the creation of 5,025 jobs and over $11.5 million loaned to a client base which is 75% female, 65% minority, and 60% persons of low wealth.
WESST has been a long-time resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration and hosts six SBA Women’s Business Centers in New Mexico. WESST is also an SBAMicrolender and a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution).
About MBDA’s Capital Readiness Program (CRP):
MBDA’s Capital Readiness Program is funded by the Department of Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative and was reauthorized under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. CRP is a $125 million technical assistance program to help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses.
The launch of the Capital Readiness Program marks a monumental milestone for MBDA, following the Agency’s enactment as a permanent Federal Agency in November 2021 as part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
MBDA seeks to make lasting changes for America’s entrepreneurs through the MBDA Capital Readiness Program by helping to close the gaps in entrepreneurial opportunities and unleashing a new era of business growth for minority and other underserved entrepreneurs. Service models include early-stage technical assistance/incubators to help entrepreneurs launch their businesses, products, or services and emerging-business technical assistance/accelerators to provide guidance on growth and expansion.
About SBA’s PRIME Grant Program:
Congress established PRIME grants as part of the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act of 1999 for organizations committed to helping low-income entrepreneurs gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses.
This grant will provide funding for private, nonprofit microenterprise development organizations; microenterprise development programs run by State/Local/Tribal Governments; or Indian tribes interested in providing assistance and guidance to disadvantaged microentrepreneurs and/or microenterprise development organizations.