Tell us about yourself and why you are passionate about small business/economic development/entrepreneurship/finance.

Juana headshotMy name is Juana Maria Rodriguez Tarango. I will be graduating this May 2022 with my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration emphasis in Marketing, and with 15 credits towards my master’s degree in Business Administration emphasis in Public Administration. I am a proud bilingual Mexican-American student at Adams State University from the rural southeastern plains of Colorado. My hometown of Hartman, CO had a population of 81 people in 2017, so I can’t emphasize what I mean when I say I am from a small town. I come from a family of hardworking people, and I have learned the importance of faith, determination, and hard work thanks to my hometown community and my parents.

Being part of such a small community taught me the importance of lending a hand to one another. Whenever there was some sort of natural disaster like a tornado or a blizzard, all of our neighbors would check up on us, and make sure we had running water and food. Even when we weren’t in need, some members of the community would randomly give us some of the vegetables they would grow in their garden, and my mom would make them cake or Tamales for free, just out of kindness. I have seen many small businesses in my community close down due to the many challenges that they have faced in the past few years. Some businesses have taken years to go from a small food booth to a food truck, and I know that if they would have had more financial support, they would already be an established business. I care a lot about my home community and I have grown to care just as much about the San Luis Valley. It has been my home for the past 3 years, and I have seen some of the same struggles that my hometown community has seen in regards to small businesses. I find that very sad and concerning because it was the small businesses that made sure that everyone in our community had what they needed during the pandemic and the shortages we faced.

Why do you think FSWCF’s mission is important?

I love First Southwest Community Fund’s (FSWCF) mission. I am aware of how important it is for small businesses and new entrepreneurs to have financial and educational support when it comes to opening or maintaining their businesses. This is why I am so glad to see that there is an organization that provides that first step towards building a business with that financial support. This fund can help local businesses blossom and grow, providing more commerce and jobs to our community.

What will your role at FSWCF as a Student Rep Board Member entail?

I will have the opportunity to look over and approve loans. I will also be able to engage in other projects and loan sub-committees to review and approve grants, loans and other forms of support to local businesses and entrepreneurs.

What are you most excited about for your new role? 

I hope to someday have my own marketing and business consulting firm that focuses on helping small local businesses grow and establish themselves in an ever-changing world. Having the role of Student Rep Board Member will allow me to gain experience and knowledge that will help me accomplish my career goal. I am most excited about being able to fulfil part of the career goal by approving and seeing more local businesses and entrepreneurs blossom and establish their businesses through this fund.