Project VIDA awarded $300k for Microenterprise Technical Assistance Program


Wells Fargo's Open for Business Fund reimagines 'technical assistance' for entrepreneurs

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, and with small and micro-businesses in El Paso face ongoing challenges, Wells Fargo recently announced a new wave of support for entrepreneurs from its Open for Business Fund.

Part of the infusion of capital includes $300,000 in grants to Project Vida, with officials explaining the grant will “provide Hispanic- and minority-owned small businesses gain greater access to low-cost capital by providing experts and recovery resources that can help them grow” via the Microenterprise Technical Assistance (MTAP) Program

“We’re grateful Wells Fargo is helping El Paso’s small businesses get back to growing again. Having access to trusted staff members of MTAP can be critical as small and micro-business owners continue facing financial hardships and other business challenges,” said Bill Schlesinger, Project Vida Co-Director.

“Through the Open for Business Fund, Wells Fargo is challenging Project Vida and other social impact agencies to reimagine technical assistance for entrepreneurs and offer a mix of resources and support to help owners emerge from the pandemic stronger and more resilient.”

Isabel Guaderrama, owner of Guaderrama’s Flowers, has been a MTAP client since 2011. Guaderrama was selling artificial flowers at flea markets and struggling financially. She began saving up money to start a business and heard about MTAP from a friend who also aspired to have a small business.

Guaderrama’s family in the Mexico City area grows and sells fresh flowers, so she began importing them and hired her nephew to transport them to El Paso.

MTAP helped the fledgling business with a business plan, taught her manual then computer-based accounting, provided various trainings through workshops and seminars which also helped her network and build a client base, as well as learn about loan preparation and packaging.

MTAP now helps her with social media, registering with digital ordering sites, reviewing her initial business plan and setting new financial projections and goals. While her business suffered during the pandemic, it had grown to add expanded refrigeration space to handle increased inventory and storage.

“The new funding from Wells Fargo will enable Project Vida to support the MTAP serving low-to-moderate income, Hispanic- and minority-owned microenterprises throughout El Paso County,” Vida officials add. “The program helps bridge gaps clients face with one-on-one outreach visits and training addressing language and cultural barriers, formalizing operations, becoming “bank-able,” use of technology and accessing capital.”

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