Microenterprise Development Class #1 - Group Photo

Microenterprise Development Program awards micro-loans to 10 new businesses

In 2022, Running Strong for American Indian Youth® announced a new, exciting expansion of our Dreamstarter® program –Dreamstarter Incubator – designed to continue supporting the dreams of Native communities for the long term after their original Dreamstarter projects have concluded.

Our first Dreamstarter Incubator is Dreamstarter entrepreneur Josh Smith from the class of 2019. He is passionate about entrepreneurship and supporting small businesses, especially those that are Native-owned and operated.  Josh, a member of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma, created Micro-enterprise Development to offer loans to individuals and businesses that larger banking institutions may otherwise look over

This is the second year of the Micro-enterprise Development Program, and what a year it has been!

This year has seen 10 new businesses complete the Microenterprise Development Program and receive their micro-loans, enabling them to start or expand their business. These businesses cover a diverse array of industries, including food and beverage, textiles, lawncare, HVAC, and more.

Over the past year, our team has had the privilege of walking these business owners through some of the first steps of going into business, offering six in-person classes focused on developing the cohort’s business, marketing, and financial plans. These inspiring entrepreneurs have shown immense creativity in taking their businesses to the next level, seeking to solve the many problems that new businesses face. Since our courses are tailored to the needs of each individual cohort, each of the ten business owners has been able to take tangible steps toward success in their business.

For example, Danesha, from Pine Ridge, is launching a business to make traditional clothing more accessible to children in her community. In building her business plan, she used what she learned in the Microenterprise Class on finance to track her process and the supplies she uses in order to settle on a pricing model that is both fair to her customers and enough for her business to thrive.

After a Microenterprise Development Class in which a representative from the Made in Oklahoma Coalition shared about the resources available to small businesses at the state level, Chef Nook, out of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, was inspired to expand his catering business to mass produce some of the incredible sauces he is known for in the area. With the help of the connection made in that class, he is now speaking with producers in the state to launch that idea.

In the coming year, the Microenterprise Development Program will be available once again to 10 businesses in Pine Ridge and Northeast Oklahoma. In addition to those, we will also be expanding to assist 5 additional businesses in the Crow Reservation in Southern Montana. Just as in our other locations, the assistance given to these 5 businesses will be tailored to the specific needs of their businesses and their local. Applications for all 3 locations will be made available in July and will be open for applicants until August.

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