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Business accelerator boosts Montana’s Native American entrepreneurs

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Posted at 5:17 PM, Jun 05, 2023

MISSOULA — An organization dedicated to promoting Native creativity is launching a six-week online business accelerator program for Native American artists and entrepreneurs from the Salish and Kootenai tribes in Montana.

Creatives Indigenous, organized by the indigenous magazine Native Max, aims to equip participants with essential skills to elevate their businesses to new heights.

"We initiated this program two years ago in the American West, and we are thrilled to extend our support to Montana's Salish and Kootenai tribes' artists and entrepreneurs," said program manager Brenna Ortiz. "Native American groups encounter numerous hurdles and setbacks when it comes to advancing their businesses, and our aim is to provide the necessary support they need to succeed."
The curriculum includes in-depth exploration and the practical application of topics such as business opportunity analysis, business model development, leadership, team building, and managing cash flow.

It also looks to empower Native American groups by addressing the unique challenges they face in scaling their businesses, according to the organizers.

This year, the program has attracted 26 businesses from Montana. Leading the program is Kelly Holmes, a Native American woman with extensive experience in the media and fashion business.

Holmes said the program's distinctive feature lies in its strong foundation rooted in Indigenous values.

"I am excited to collaborate with our partners on this program," Holmes explained. "Our objective is to empower Native creative entrepreneurs, providing them with the confidence, knowledge, and resources necessary to generate revenue, achieve financial success, and ultimately create more employment opportunities within their communities."

The program will culminate on July 22 with a fair at the SKC campus where participants will showcase their businesses and products. The event also will serve as a platform for entrepreneurs to network, gain exposure and celebrate their achievements.

“What makes our programs unique is how we incorporate and integrate Indigenous knowledge and values into the curriculum,” said Holmes.