Listen to the Interview
One loan recipient is an artist who used the money to build a website to sell his work. Another runs a video production company and needed funds to keep her business alive. In all, 49 Native entrepreneurs applied for and received loans of up to $5,000.
According to Stago, Change Labs’ Director of Business Incubation, the program has distributed about $196,000 to Native-owned businesses since the pandemic began. They’re now seeking new funding to offer more loans.
The money provided a lifeline to Navajo and Hopi small businesses. As coronavirus cases surged on the reservations in the spring, commerce essentially ended.
“The impact was severe and it was sudden,” said Stago. “We had some businesses reporting a 90 percent loss in revenue within a month.”
To qualify for Kinship Lending, business owners must be an enrolled member of a Native American tribe. They also must reside on either the Navajo or Hopi reservations, or in bordering towns such as Cortez, Farmington, and Flagstaff. The money can be used to cover rent or payroll, replace lost revenue, or improve the business.
For Change Labs, the loans do more than support small business owners. They strengthen Native communities by encouraging entrepreneurship.
“It creates a baseline economy that’s more stable than what we’ve seen historically on the reservations,” Stago explained.
Explore Recent Stories
Getting fast and reliable high-speed internet was a challenge for many people in the Four Corners even before the pandemic. But now as more adults and schoolchildren work remotely, communities and private businesses are stepping up to fill in some of the gaps.
An apple varietal long thought to be extinct is coming back to life in Colorado. Next stop: your grocery list.
Officials Hope Remote-Controlled Avalanches on Lizard Head Pass Will Help Keep Vital Byway Open During Snow Slide Season
A new Swiss-designed avalanche control system on the pass southwest of Telluride aims to make it safer for crews to trigger slides. The remote-controlled system uses elevated towers to drop ordnance on snow-loaded slopes.