Native women in Arizona are getting help to launch their own businesses with expert advice.
As Alex Gonzalez reports, a unique program helps bring their business ideas to life, and a new cohort just joined the project.
Project DreamCatcher is a unique, free initiative for Native American women entrepreneurs.
In the intensive, one-week program, they’re exposed to MBA-level business classes at ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Last month, 21 women graduated from the program.
Cherolyn Vanwinkle, a graduate and co-founder of AZ Native Mobile Diesel Truck & Trailer Repair, says the program has been instrumental for her, in a predominantly male-run field.
“I feel like this program just really helped me push my fears aside. I mean, I wasn’t fearful before, but it was just more I was sitting back and letting the world take me over. But now, I feel like I’m finally in control.”
Participants have access to graduate-level courses, coaching and advising sessions with business professionals, and networking activities designed to foster confidence in starting or growing a business.
According to project leaders, the last cohort graduated 67 women, who have started 30 businesses in Arizona.
Vanwinkle previously worked in the medical field and says she didn’t know much about what it took to run a mechanic business. But she’s taken her skills and experience and used them in new ways in her new company.
She says one of the most overwhelming parts of the journey was knowing where to begin, but DreamCatcher helps participants devise a plan.
“They had a professor come in and talk to us about how to understand revenues, expenses, gross profits, salary sheets, cash flow and owner’s equity. Those are large words for some of us that didn’t go to business school.”
Vanwinkle says having a support system as a new a business is fundamental. She encourages the next women who enroll in Project DreamCatcher to be open minded, ask questions and use the resources available to them.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, American Indian and Alaska Native-owned businesses contributed over $39 billion to the economy last year, but make up only one percent of all firms.
The enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe served as president of Sinte Gleska University for 50 years, said to be the longest serving university president in the United States.
The university is located on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota.
Bordeaux was well-known as a strong advocate in the tribal college movement.
His career also included working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Experience in Washington, D.C., was instrumental in helping Bordeaux pursue passage of legislation to support tribal colleges and universities.
Bordaeux was passionate about culturally-based Native higher education and service to the Native community.
He was a founder of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, which represents the 35 tribal colleges and universities across the country. And he was a founder of the American Indian College Fund, the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium, and the Tribal College Journal.
Bordeaux passed away at age 82.
A celebration of life is planned for December first at the tribal university.
The Phoenix Suns honored the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) Tuesday night during a game in Phoenix, AZ.
They celebrated a 20 year partnership between the organization and the professional basketball team.
NABI hosts the largest all Indigenous basketball tournament in North America, with more than 100 teams taking part in games, each summer.
NABI’s event generates a local economic impact to the Phoenix area, and has awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships to Native college students.
The organization was involved in the Suns’ new uniforms celebrating Native culture and the showcasing of Arizona’s 22 tribal nations at the arena.
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