New Mexicans are familiar with the Native American artisan markets all around the state. Artists sell their handmade jewelry, pottery, basketry and more at places like the Santa Fe Indian Market.

Sen. Martin Heinrich announced that $744,000 in federal funds had been secured to aid tribal businesses – such as Inidgenous artisans- and other small businesses initiatives during a press conference on Jan. 18 at the Albuquerque WESST (The Women’s Economic Self-Sufficiency Team) offices.

The investments will usher in a new era for tribal artisans by allowing some of them to establish online marketplaces for their products.

“We were able to secure another $125,000 for the New Mexico Small Business Development Center to continue their critical e-commerce training,” Heinrich said. He went on to explain that allowing artists to have an online market place would “cut out the middle man” and allow the artists to sell their art at a full price.

WESST, one of the beneficiaries of the funds, specializes in consulting, training, incubation and grants small businesses access to capital. This is the second fiscal year that WESST was been granted federal funding.

According to a WESST spokesperson, the funds – which will be given to WESST, a small business consulting firm, the New Mexico Minority Business Development Agency Business Center and the New Mexico Small Business Development Center (NMSBDC) – are expected to help 800 to 1,000 businesses.

“These are opportunities for us to take our capacity and bring a force multiplier approach towards it,” Heinrich said.

The funding will help the organizations hire staff and will also help provide entrepreneurship training to incarcerated people.