New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center has been awarded two grants by Bank of America to support two free six-week sprints that focus on Native American entrepreneurs throughout New Mexico, and entrepreneurs with businesses in Doña Ana and El Paso counties.
The Borderplex Sprint starts Jan. 18, and the Native American Sprint starts Jan. 19. Both will be held online. Arrowhead Center is seeking businesses to apply to the free sprints now. The last day to apply for both sprints is Jan. 10.
“We are grateful for Bank of America’s support to offer these free sprints, and for the opportunity to support regional businesses through our sprint programs,” said Arrowhead Center Deputy Director Dana Catron.
Arrowhead Center’s six-week sprint programs teach new and existing businesses how to find new customers, revise products or services to meet customers' needs, and create jobs. Arrowhead Center delivers this free service online, so travel is not a barrier to participation. Sprints work with small groups – 10 businesses at a time for each sprint – so each receives individualized attention and solutions to their specific challenges.
Native American and Borderplex entrepreneurs will quickly learn how to reframe their business models. Emphasizing each client's individual needs, Arrowhead Center matches participants with:
- Enterprise advisers: volunteer experts who mentor clients.
- Web design and graphic design support.
- Help writing business plans.
- Social media marketing support.
“Bank of America’s support will provide staffing and curricula materials for six weeks of classes and will sustain one-on-one mentoring during and after the sprint, so entrepreneurs can find new customers and revise products or services to meet consumer needs,” Catron said. “Previous participants generated more investment, made more sales, developed products and services, and created more jobs.”
Catron added New Mexico's Native American businesses are struggling due to COVID-19-mandated closures that temporarily closed casinos and arts and culture retail, both tribal economy staples.
“New Mexico received 44 unemployment insurance applications from Native Americans in March 2021, but that jumped 898 percent to 829 applications by June 2020,” said Catron. “Plus, the Borderplex has so many rich opportunities for entrepreneurs to harness the best of our area, we want to help stimulate not only New Mexico’s economy, but build long-lasting regional connections.”
Sprint participants learn about market identification, customer discovery, e-commerce, and website and graphic design so they can find new customers, markets, or investments. Weekly live group discussions focus on product and business uniqueness, product and market fit, tailoring products/business, online branding and other topics. Industry experts mentor participants one-on-one weekly.
Along with sprint curricula, funding from Bank of America will also provide participants with:
- $500 micro-grants: Participants agree to use these for their specific business development expenses (for Native American Sprint cohort only).
- Weekly videoconference cohort meetings for six weeks to discuss product and business uniqueness, customers and competition, product and market fit, tailoring product and business, online branding, marketing, social media, and resources and funding for moving businesses forward.
- Guest speakers, including Native American entrepreneurs and subject matter experts when possible.
- Weekly one-on-one meetings with Arrowhead Center staff for customized assistance and to address individual questions/concerns.
“Each participating business completing the sprint receives a customized report with next steps, and contacts and referrals to follow-on services through Arrowhead Center and other economic development organizations,” Catron said. “This ensures each participant exits the program with concrete, actionable next steps, and the information necessary to complete those steps.”
The participating businesses will also have ongoing free access to Arrowhead Ventures, which offers continued support such as one-on-one mentoring, and access to development resources for the life of the business. Arrowhead Center provides this ongoing service to sprint graduates to ensure entrepreneurs have the support they require as their businesses grow or evolve, and their needs change.
To apply to the Borderplex BizSprint, visit https://arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/program/sprints/borderplex-bizsprint/. To apply to the Native American Sprint, visit https://arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/program/sprints/nativeamericansprint/.