Local First Arizona recently received $80,000 from Thunderbirds Charities in support of Fuerza Local Business Accelerator program. The new investment will boost outreach of the program to new Latino businesses across the Valley, helping to further Thunderbirds Charities’ mission to improve the quality of life for Arizonans. Fuerza Local Business Accelerator is a six-month program offered at no cost to underserved Latino micro-entrepreneurs in the Greater Phoenix area. The curriculum brings industry experts together to teach courses on business fundamentals, cash-flow projections, marketing, business planning and more – all taught entirely in Spanish. During the program, students solidify a credit score and upon graduation, each student is given the opportunity for a line of credit to grow their business.
“The Fuerza Local Business Accelerator program was created from a need to help underserved Latino business owners. We are proud of the hard working entrepreneurs that go through the program because they are adding significantly to our communities and our economy. Thunderbirds Charities realizes the impact and potential and we’re thrilled to partner to continue bridging the gap for Latino entrepreneurs,” says Tanairi Ochoa-Martinez, Director of Fuerza Local Arizona.
“Local First Arizona is doing tremendous work in our community assisting underserved Latino businesses,” said Chance Cozby, President of Thunderbirds Charities. “At Thunderbirds Charities, we know the deep and long-lasting impact of that work for not only the business owners but for their families and we are happy to assist in achieving their goals.”
According to the 2018 annual report, 450 Fuerza Local Business Accelerator graduates have created 536 new jobs and generated $6.2+ million in new sales just in the last year alone. Additionally, the program allows entrepreneurs to grow a credit history by making weekly payments into an online money pool, which is a highly acculturated version of the way low-income families have saved money for centuries. In this newly digitized version, their payments are recorded and reported to Experian, the largest credit bureau in the country, helping to establish credit for the upstarts.
“Access to fair market capital, instead of predatory high interest loans, helps create strong, independent businesses for Arizona while alleviating the need to rely on payday lenders,” says Ochoa-Martinez. The combination of business training and financial literacy, backed with newly developed credit scores, provides entry into several partnering credit unions providing lines of credit for graduates who complete the curriculum and make on-time payments into the money-pool for six months. “We’re seeing cohort after cohort of entrepreneurs preparing themselves for success, and thanks to Thunderbird Charities, we can continue building a strong, independent community of business owners,” says Ochoa-Martinez.
More information is available at localfirstazfoundation.org.