November 17, 2022

On Monday, Tribal Business News reported that the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has partnered with the Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program to bring broadband education to Indian Country. 

All the broadband access in the world won’t help close the digital divide in Indian Country without the education to make use of the new technologies, said New Mexico Community Capital Program Director Henry Jake Foreman. 

Improved infrastructure plays a crucial role in Native business by broadening market access, but Natives still need to know how best to take advantage of that access, he said.

“There’s definitely that bigger conversation around digital equity. It’s not just having the internet, but having the tools to use it,” Foreman said. “There’s training that’s available that should go hand-in-hand with any type of broadband access. There needs to be education coupled with that expansion.”

Foreman will serve as Grow with Google’s Digital Coach for Indigenous-owned businesses, offering digital skills workshops and advice on how to employ everything from Google Docs to Gmail in growing online ventures. 

The program offers a plethora of development opportunities, such as certification in particular applications, understanding and improving analytics, and developing digital marketing strategies.

The new partnership, which includes a $750,000 grant to support technical assistance and community building, piggybacks off of existing cooperation between Alphabet Inc. philanthropic arm and NCAI. Prior collaborations include a pilot training program and a previous $1.25 million grant, according to NCAI. 

NCAI President Fawn Sharp said NCAI was “excited” to continue its work with Google through the Digital Coaches program. 

“While Native-owned small businesses have grown over the past thirty years and are significant contributors to growing tribal economies, entrepreneurial parity is still unrealized,” Sharp said in a statement. “This is a key reason why NCAI is excited to continue our partnership with Grow with Google to bring the digital skills necessary to help Indian Country businesses thrive.”

Grow with Google Digital Coaches Manager Lucy Pinto said Google was ready offer support to Native entrepreneurs through digital training.

“Through the Grow with Google Digital Coaches program, we’ve seen firsthand how small businesses can reach their full economic potential when they have access to digital tools,” Pinto said in a statement. “We’re proud to continue our partnership with NCAI and to work with our new Digital Coach to expand access to digital skills in Native and Indigenous communities. Their strong expertise will help more Native and Indigenous-owned small businesses across the country thrive online, reach new customers, and unlock additional sources of revenue.”

You can read the full article here.

Source: Oxendine, Chez. “Through partnership with Google, NCAI appoints digital coach to help Native businesses.” Tribal Business News. Nov. 14, 2022

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