BIA distributes first $3M of create, bolster Native business incubators

On Monday, Tribal Business News reported that Crow Agency, Mont.-based Plenty Doors Community Development Corp. plans to establish a new business incubator to help Native entrepreneurs on or near the Crow Indian Reservation prepare to launch their new ventures. 

Backed by $300,000 in first-time funding from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Plenty Doors wants to use this new initiative to expand its existing services, such as credit builder and financial literacy classes.

Executive Director Charlene Johnson said the funding will enable the Native-led nonprofit to offer business development classes, marketing, web design, and even retail and office space. 

“We did an economic study and found that 85 percent of every dollar that comes to the reservation leaves. Our community has lots of poverty and high unemployment, and we’re trying to figure out ways to capture some of those dollars,” Johnson told Tribal Business News. “Getting funding for that business incubator will help us help those businesses so they’re more likely to be successful.”

The funding came as part of a nearly $3 million round of grants announced this month by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) within the Interior Department. The funding, which went to 10 tribes and tribal organizations, marks the first round of funding under the Native American Business Incubators Program, which was created by federal law in late 2020. 

Each of the 10 organizations that received grants in the initial round are Native-led or tribally-owned, according to the BIA announcement. 

Funded organizations can use the money to establish and operate new business incubators or improve on existing programs, such as the one at Change Labs, a Navajo and Hopi-centered organization in Tuba City, Arizona. 

Change Labs has developed a wide-ranging program providing cohort members with virtual classes and real-life workspaces, as well as assistance in improving business plans, navigating complex land and building leasing issues, and developing marketing strategies. 

Executive Director Heather Fleming previously told Tribal Business News that the Native American Business Incubator funding would help address “unique issues” that Native business owners face. More funding can help create more programs, which in turn will improve accessibility, she said.

“I just think more support levels are needed. There are little to no other incubator programs that are based on tribal lands that are serving Native entrepreneurs,” Fleming said for a previous report. “We’d just like to see a lot more programs where someone can drive down the street and find a coworking space or get help getting a loan or advice.”

You can read the full article here.

Source: Oxendine, Chez. “BIA distributes first $3M round of funds to create, bolster Native business incubators.” Tribal Business News. Nov. 14, 2022