One week ago today, October 9th, was recognized as Indigenous People’s Day, and one of the most notable and inspiring initiatives that contribute to this commemorative day all year long is Project DreamCatcher. This “no-cost business development program,” is a collaboration between the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation and Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management. Since the program’s inception in 2015, “it has fostered the creation and success of over 80 businesses” and boasts more than 180 alumni, as noted in ASU News’ article, “Native women entrepreneurs begin 1-week training program on Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
It is a joyful experience for wegg® to witness other organizations invest in women entrepreneurs by way of free education. This work is ever-important as a recent publication from Bankrate cites this statistic from the 2022 Small Business Credit Survey, “less than 1% of SBA 7(a) and 504 loans go to Indigenous business owners each year.”
Besides covering the instruction, lodging, and meals for the week for participants of Project DreamCatcher, the women also get to build connections and friendships among their peers. The content of the week-long sessions includes, “graduate-level classes taught by Thunderbird faculty, coaching and advising sessions with business professionals, and networking activities designed to impart new skills and the confidence to start or grow a business.” Empowering Native-American women entrepreneurs with the skills and proficiency to establish their own businesses is indispensable.