TULSA, Okla. — Cherokee Nation, The University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business and StitchCrew are partnering to offer a Native American Women Entrepreneurship Accelerator to Cherokee women this fall.
A first of its kind in the region, the eight-week program focuses on supporting Native American women as underrepresented entrepreneurs. The unique programming will take participants from conception to business planning and then through steps to growing their business before concluding with an opportunity to pitch their business proposal to potential investors and partners.
“Native American women often face a unique set of challenges within the business community, including systematic disparities, harmful and inaccurate stereotypes, discrimination and lack of resources” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “I believe the Cherokee Nation has an obligation to support Native American women in pursuing their ambitions of creating, refining and growing businesses of their own. Through partnerships and programs such as this that help Cherokee women overcome those obstacles and achieve their dreams, we are honoring that obligation and furthering Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma’s success.”
The tribe will provide $10,000 to each Cherokee woman selected to participate in the pilot program. The grant will help participants develop their pitch, materials and business concepts and reimburse personal expenses related to the program.
The business accelerator program aims to support Native American female entrepreneurs by promoting economic growth, addressing the significant disparities and unique challenges faced by Indigenous female business owners, encouraging diversity in the business world, and creating role models to help inspire Native girls and women to pursue their own entrepreneurial dreams and aspirations.
“According to a report from the National Women’s Business Council, Native American women entrepreneurs have the lowest rates of business entrepreneurship among all racial and ethnic groups,” said Kathy Taylor, dean of TU’s Collins College of Business. “We stand here ready to change that statistic.”
Through education, mentorship and networking, the university’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and JOLT@TUBusiness will serve as a springboard for the promising businesswomen selected to participate in the program.
“Native American Women have been shortchanged for far too long. The time to invest in them is now,” said Erika Lucas, CEO of StitchCrew. “That's why we are thrilled to partner with The University of Tulsa and the Cherokee Nation to bring this program to fruition.”
StitchCrew is an organization aimed toward building a more equitable economy through entrepreneurship. Since 2017, StitchCrew has partnered with organizations like the NBA, Google, BASF, and others to design and implement programs that democratize access to capital, resources and networks for traditionally overlooked entrepreneurs.
Cherokee Nation, the largest sovereign tribal government in the U.S., recently announced an annual economic impact of more than $3.04 billion in Oklahoma, where the tribe’s reservation is located. The tribe and its businesses continually expand opportunities and advantages throughout northeast Oklahoma by supporting education, growing industries, providing jobs, improving health care, building infrastructure and more.
Applications to the accelerator will open in July, and the program will run from September through November. More information will be available soon at stitchcrew.com.
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