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Spokane, multi-ethnic business group partners to offer loan education to marginalized entrepreneurs

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Rebecca White
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Spokane business leaders Marvo Reguindin AHANA Executive Director and Joni Wynecoop, AHANA board member, sign papers with Mike Fong, Pacific Northwest Small Business Administration administrator, and Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, sign an agreement to provide more resources to marginalized business leaders.

The Small Business Administration, Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward and a local multi-ethnic business group have signed an agreement to increase resources, education and opportunity for minority businesses in the region.

Marvo Reguindin, executive director of the Asian, Hispanic, African American and Native American Business Association, also known as AHANA, said many of Spokane’s marginalized business owners have been excluded from training or opportunities to get business loans.

“We're going to play an important role because we're going to provide that space, because unfortunately we still have systemic barriers, systemic oppression that our businesses are feeling,” he said. “Even with all the great resources that are out there from the city, and the S-B-A, there's a lack of trust. And that barrier of trust is something we need to build.”

Mike Fong, the SBA Northwest Regional Administrator, said the agreement signed Thursday is a promise to provide more resources and education to Spokane’s marginalized business owners, or future entrepreneurs through AHANA, an organization that already has the trust of those communities.

“AHANA represents one among many organizations that have those relationships, that we in government, particularly the Federal government, may not always have, and may not always be the right folks to show up at the front door and do that outreach,” he said.

He said the agency is already meeting with the organization to establish programs and hopes to get them underway as soon as possible.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.