Non-profit receives $1 million to help Central Valley small business owners

The funding is expected to reach over 1,200 entrepreneurs in the Central Valley.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2022
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The Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation has been helping small business owners since 2001.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation has been helping small business owners since 2001.

Recently, the James Irvine Foundation granted them $1 million to help local businesses.

The funding is expected to reach over 1,200 entrepreneurs in the Central Valley.

Dora Westerlund is the CEO of the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation.

She has a special place in her heart for small business owners, as her father was an entrepreneur when she was growing up.

Dora is thankful for the funding and looks forward to seeing the people it will reach.

"These individuals not only can open their business, but then they create jobs for the community, so we do want to foster the economy locally and in the San Joaquin Valley," says Dora.

The non-profit aims to help rural areas, women business owners and those in most need.

They also focus on the Latino population but their doors are open to anyone.

Dora mentions, "We have helped Caucasians, we have helped Punjabi, we have helped Hmong, African Americans so anyone who needs the assistance, we are open doors for the community."

Lakhveer Kaur Khehra is a small business owner who moved from India with her son and husband in 2013.

She opened her business in February of 2020 then had to shut down a month later.

She reached out to the foundation, who then granted her $5,000.

Lakhveer says, "They didn't know me when I went to their office. They were most welcoming, they hugged me. I was literally crying that day and they hugged me and said, 'You are in the right spot.'"

The support has helped her keep going and expand her eyebrow threading business, called Jannat Threading Salon.

She has two locations in Fresno, one on Shields and the other on Shaw.

Lakhveer has also grown to have five employees.

"I just want to say, women, be strong, believe in yourself and go out for help. In America, we have a lot of opportunities." says Lakhveer.

Applications to receive grant funding are currently open. The foundation also has financing available for up to $70,000 per business.

To apply for a grant, contact the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation here.