Change Labs is stepping in to assist Native small businesses, vendors or artists ineligible for COVID-19 aid or PPP loans.
Assistance is available for small business owners who reside on or near the Navajo and Hopi Nations and are facing challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic. Native-owned business hub Change Labs is offering zero-interest loans of up to $5,000 with no credit check to Native entrepreneurs.
Loans are available to enrolled Tribal members who reside on the Navajo or Hopi Nations, or in the border towns of Flagstaff, Holbrook, Page, or Winslow, Arizona; Gallup or Farmington, New Mexico; or Cortez, Colorado. Applications beyond these areas may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
“We know how difficult it can be for Native businesses to access capital through traditional banking, and how big a difference a small amount of capital can make, especially now,” said Heather Fleming, executive director of Change Labs. “A loan of a few hundred dollars can help a roadside jewelry vendor set up a website to transition to online and custom orders. A loan of a few thousand dollars can help a small grocery mart pay its employees and keep serving the community. Small businesses are the backbone of tribal economies and Native entrepreneurs are resilient and resourceful. Change Labs is pleased to partner with Nusenda Federal Credit Union’s Co-Op Capital program to lend to Native American entrepreneurs and change makers across the Colorado Plateau at 0 percent interest during this time of urgent need.”
Change Labs’ Kinship Lending program seeks to support “entrepreneurial and community-minded Natives” to continue operating their businesses and offering vital services Native communities amid the pandemic.
“As disruptive as COVID-19 is, we also know there are Native entrepreneurs who see new needs in their communities right now, and have creative ideas for how to meet them,” said Jessica Stago, director of business incubation at Change Labs. “Necessity is the mother of invention—our microloan program wants to help entrepreneurs get these new ideas off the ground as quickly as possible.”
Applications will be reviewed and loans awarded on a first come, first served basis. For more information, including how to apply, visit https://nativestartup.org/kinshiplending.