Change Labs accepting applications for 2021 Business Incubator
TUBA CITY, Ariz. — Change Labs, an award-winning Native American-led organization, is now accepting applications from Native American business owners and entrepreneurs to its business incubation program.
The application process is open until Feb. 19.
Jessica Stago, director of the business incubator, said the Change Labs business incubator supports new businesses by providing technical counseling, tools, mentorship and peer support through the start-up phase of the new business.
“We believe entrepreneurship is the best path to self-sufficiency for Native families and communities to reduce poverty and increase economic mobility,” Stago said.
Stago said that while the entire nation is weathering the effects of COVID-19, the small business community faces uncharted territory and that building a strong business foundation and a community of peers is important now more than ever and that is what Change Labs focuses on.
“Some people may think it’s a bad time to start a business during a pandemic, but what entrepreneurs do is see a problem in the marketplace and figure out how to solve that problem,” Stago said. “They are absolutely problem solvers and what we need are people who have that kind of skill and foresight.”
That’s where the business incubator comes in. Stago said that business entrepreneurs need to understand how to organize their thoughts, apply their knowledge and use resources in an efficient way to build a business.
“The incubator gives them the tools they need and provides a like-minded group, so they also benefit from peer support,” Stago said. “We also provide access to much needed start-up capital once they graduate from the program.”
Stago said Change Labs looks for applicants who are the right entrepreneur who has time to dedicate to their business, are committed to launching a business and who have an idea that would benefit from the services of the business incubator.
“Much of this has to do with the resolve of the entrepreneur to give it their best and to be coachable, as well as the timing of the start-up,” Stago said.
This year, there are two cohorts, so people will be able to apply again if now is not the right time.
“We have to choose 10 applicants out of a pool of typically 40 to 50 applications, so the decision is difficult for us most of the time,” Stago said.
Selected applicants are paired with a team of business coaches who will help strengthen and develop their entrepreneurial infrastructure.
The program benefits include: one-on-one training in business registration, tax preparation and financial reporting; virtual classroom with like-minded peers to build networks of support and get input on the business model, marketing and brand strategy and bookkeeping systems; branding development and assistance with building a strong online presence automatic eligibility for a $10,000 loan upon graduation from the program.
Change Labs has successfully graduated 25 Native-owned businesses from its incubator, all of whom are creating economic opportunities in their tribal communities.
“Much of our community has been devastated this past year and our economy is in shambles, but this is the best time to showcase our resiliency,” Stago said. “It’s time to show that to the world, to be courageous in taking space in the market and provide products and services that our communities need or that the world needs to experience right now.”
Those interested can apply for the Change Labs Business Incubator at http://nativestartup.org/incubator.
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