The Native Enterprise Coalition
The Oregon Native American Chamber and several other native and enterprise-serving organizations have come together in developing a statewide plan to help Native Americans engage actively in our economy, including becoming entrepreneurs as well as investors. The coalition has been named the Coalition for Native Enterprise or NE Coalition.
NE Coalition has taken a leadership role in ensuring Oregon Native Americans have access to business development programming. It is seeking partnerships, funding, and contributors to develop an innovative new initiative that begins by leveraging existing programs from collaborating organizations and then takes advantage of emerging state plans from aligned state agencies. This initiative seeks to foster comprehensive programs, services, training, technical assistance, and legal support to existing and emerging Native American entrepreneurs in Oregon. The suite of services will be offered within a cohort model to increase learning outcomes and support. This initiative will be led by the Oregon Native American Chamber.
The NE Coalition Project is a full year of programming, offered in cohorts for group support and improved learning. It begins with the programs of our initial partners, and their suite of programs. These have been placed on a continuum of enterprise development, from initial exploration to preparing for startup funding. A review of all areas that would impact the success and growth of an entrepreneur in Indian Country have identified gaps in this continuum, so additional programming will be developed to fill these gaps. Additional support is planned from partners such as one-on-one technical assistance consulting, statewide gatherings, and myriad pop-up workshops (legal, social media, etc.).
Other partners have committed to serving as either advisors or resource providers, including the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), the Secretary of State’s Office of Small Business, a number of Economic Development Districts, and many others. Formal and informal networking opportunities will connect entrepreneurs to one another and state, local, and federal agencies aimed at increasing and leveraging their business prospects with similar business as well as clusters of businesses.
Entrepreneurs in Oregon struggle to find resources. It may be because they are in isolated communities, or perhaps they are at a stage that has few programs. Or, their needs are unique, in a specialized industry and no resources are available where they live. The economy of Oregon cannot afford to lose business, so StartUpOregon was launched. StartUpOregon aims to address this problem by offering a kind of online center for entrepreneurship.
New Oregon law now allows ordinary citizens to invest in small Oregon companies. This law makes possible what was historically illegal, shutting out 99% of Oregonians from actively investing in their own communities, forcing entrepreneurs to either seek out an elusive bank loan or tap friends and family, often putting much at risk if the business fails. This new law both enables people to invest in their own communities as well as seek capital from Oregonians – the communities where we live – putting the power of enterprise success back into the hands of those who would use and benefit by the business.
Hatch Innovation, a member of NE Coalition, helped write this law, and launched Hatch Oregon to provide support and knowledge to Oregon entrepreneurs and investors. Their InvestOR Ready Accelerator program is designed into this initiative, ensuring Native entrepreneurs have access to and knowledge about how to use this new funding mechanism.
Also, Business Oregon is refocusing on rural Oregon, helping develop and fund new initiatives that serve rural regions, tribal land and people included. This offers a new pathway to partnerships with many other business-serving entities, resources, programs, and attention.
Finally, NE Coalition partners take up this work with the goal of economic justice for Tribal people in mind. If small business development centers and incubators don’t embrace collaboration with tribal people and other communities of color we run the risk of re-creating the same economic injustice of centuries past.
The members of the Coalition for Native Entrepreneurs have joined together to leverage these new opportunities in order to create a new strategy for serving individual tribal members in the Greater Northwest. The group’s constituent organizations are aligned in mission, and offer programming that is more powerful when connected. Our goal is to collaborate with Tribal and Native leaders to create a comprehensive program designed to introduce, support, and help launch more Native enterprises, offering a more organized, resource-rich pathway to economic justice and independence for Native people.
Contact for more information:
James Alan Parker | ONAC Executive Director
503.894.4525 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Oregon Native American Chamber – Herb Fricke & James Parker
Hatch Innovations – Amy Pearl
ONABEN – Jack Lenox
Indigenous Ways of Knowing – Se-ah-dom Edmo
Business Oregon – Janet Soto Rodriguez