New Mexico Community Capital Staff standing together in front of the organization’s entrance.

Grantee Stories – New Mexico Community Capital

New Mexico Community Capital Staff standing together in front of the organization’s entrance.

New Mexico Community Capital’s (”NMCC”) mission is to give rise to a more equitable future for the Indigenous population by providing culturally appropriate tools for success to emerging Native American-owned businesses, Native families and tribal enterprises in the state. It provides mentorship, peer learning and culturally relevant education as well as supporting tribal agencies and organizations with specialized technical assistance and business services.

“We empower Indigenous communities to thrive by providing entrepreneurs the resources and technology they need,” said New Mexico Community Capital Executive Director Liz Gamboa. “We support whole communities, not just businesses. We've been here for almost 20 years and have become a trusted provider of investment, training and technical expertise,
designed and delivered by Indigenous entrepreneurs.” Gamboa stresses that although business ownership is an effective alternative to wage inequity in the workplace, Indigenous entrepreneurs disproportionately lack access to capital and business resources. This was especially true during the pandemic when many Native entrepreneurs were left out of federal assistance programs and lacked the support and resources other businesses were able to access for relief. “We continue to see severe barriers to their success,” she said.

At the height of the pandemic, NMCC was providing stipends and microgrants to support entrepreneur participation in programming. “We were offering support with childcare, rent, buying inventory and even groceries — sometimes people just needed cash to actualize and invest in their business,” said Gamboa. “We were reliant on grant support to provide that support along with tools and instruction.”

A lack of resources coupled with the inability to gather to sell goods and network meant that Native artists and business owners fell further behind. That’s where NMCC saw an opportunity. Although it had been supporting Native entrepreneurs through mentorship and investment for almost 20 years, it lacked a hub to unite all of its programs and services.

A physical space for Native entrepreneurs to sell goods and co-work became the goal. “We saw a need to host more groups, hold events and create a space for Native entrepreneurs to thrive in Albuquerque,” said Gamboa.

In 2022, with the help of a Community Self-Determination grant from the NDN Collective, NMCC began renovating the historic Occidental Life Building located at Third Street and Gold Avenue in downtown Albuquerque, which it now shares with partner organizations Native Women Lead and Roanhorse Consulting, among other companies. This expansion has increased the organization’s footprint to approximately 8,000 square feet, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

Recently, NMCC started participating in ABQ Art Walk, which gives its community a venue to sell goods and network with other entrepreneurs. The new location is critical to that growth.

“We started hosting First Friday markets and invited over 20 different Indigenous vendors to come and sell their art and products each month. We’ve hosted many successful gatherings since last summer and helped create more opportunities for Indigenous makers and Native farmers to reach a greater audience.”

As NMCC makes progress on the building renovation, it is also moving forward with plans for a community gathering space for film nights, art experiences and fashion shows as well as a commercial kitchen and a co-working space.