Here at First Southwest Community Fund, we are pioneering new, innovative ways to support diverse entrepreneurs and small businesses that include pivoting our communication and education with live interpretation in Spanish! We understand the needs of our rural minority communities across Colorado and recognize the vast array of culture we all share. In 2022, we proudly launched our Fortaleza (Strength) Fund because we know that the immigrant entrepreneurial spirit is strong!

Entrepreneurship in the U.S. is very different from other countries and we believe that small business education is the starting point to all successful small businesses and supporting the economic development of our rural communities. Our communities are sprinkled with established carnicerías (butcher shops), panaderias (bakeries), and let’s not forget our favorite tamale lady committed to her side hustle! These types of business journeys are why we created the Fortaleza Fund. Oftentimes, entrepreneurship is the only pathway to put food on the table and a roof over heads for immigrants as they wait to become citizens. Fortaleza gives access to our community of Spanish speakers by providing multilingual, cultural level small business education, resources, technical assistance, and funding through grants and loans for immigrant entrepreneurs and small businesses in rural Colorado. What we have learned is that mainstream financial lending may not be a viable option for our immigrant communities. We have worked hard to remove barriers by supporting immigrant lending opportunities through the Fortaleza Fund and we are grateful for the incredible partnerships and funders who support these vital needs.

Our Fortaleza Fund educational program offers a workshop series of small business education that starts with an idea! All our education is offered virtual to make it easier for all to attend. We are proud to have just finished a business idea workshop for 11-immigrant entrepreneurs across Colorado that included a $200 grant to start their business idea with registration and licenses. Then there’s the next educational phase that combines multiple small business topics over a 12-week period. These 11-students will learn about marketing, bookkeeping, finance, and other relevant business topics. Students who complete this series will also receive a $2,000 grant to use to start their business dreams! Graduation for this group is fast approaching – stay tuned for our Community Graduation Celebration in both Durango and Alamosa because you’re invited! We are honored to support these dreams and provide access to capital with lending through this fund as well.

Let’s grow our communities together! | ¡Hagamos crecer nuestras comunidades juntos!