Our approach of creating community wealth through employee ownership is a new and innovative approach in Indian country and is starting to become more recognized nationwide.
The economic system on the reservation has between $40-50 million dollars passing through the region every year. The challenge is keeping as many of those dollars in the community longer by circulating them at least five times in order to build a thriving regional economy. As a leading non-profit organization on the reservation, we have built many partnerships and relationships with tribal, state, and federal government entities as well as many other for-profit and non-profit entities, including local schools and colleges. Because of our relationships we have a comprehensive view of the existing system and recognize that although there are many qualified Native Americans to do a variety of work, there is a lack of upper management and business skills.
Social enterprises are defined in many ways, but typically are nonprofit organizations that operate businesses in order to generate revenues and fulfill their missions.
We believe that the Social Enterprise Program will create worker owned businesses and/or companies that will assist community leadership growth, increase effectiveness, and get workers that are dedicated to their jobs to break a cycle of poverty. Worker ownership creates an opportunity to increase skill levels and build wealth, it can create greater management-level awareness deep in a company’s workforce, the techniques as open book management, training in reading financial statements, and incentives tied to the company’s performance.
"I have some knowledge in what we're doing, but I am looking forward to gaining the knowledge about starting a construction business since I would like to start my own one day. Plus I really like who I work with. I really like that every morning we do the check in with each other and we all express how we're feeling that day, how we all communicate with each other. I like that communication."
The Social Enterprise Program will research, implement, and launch worker owned enterprises. In general, when small businesses start up they do not have an accounting, business management, and other functions needed to maintain the company. The Social Enterprise Program will offer support to them at a minimum during their initial growth stage, which will address the afore mention services that businesses lack during their start up phase.
In addition to assisting and training employees in business management, we will focus energy on educating employees on the nuances of employee ownership because it is a model that is new to the reservation.