The Indian Country Programs will begin accepting applications to the fiscal year 2018 Indian Equity Fund (IEF) Small Business Grant program starting July 1, 2017. Funding for the family of programs under the ICED funding (Tribal Business Planning Grant (TBPG), Indian Equity Fund (IEF) Small Business Grant, and the Native American Business Advisors (NABA) Grant) was passed by the 65th Montana State Legislature as part of House Bill 2, state special revenue, and signed into law by Governor Steve Bullock in May 2017. These programs allow the Indian Country Programs to continue to articulate measurable success for investing in business and economic development activities on reservations in partnership with tribal governments for the benefit of tribal communities and members.
PURPOSE: Assist start-up or expanding Native American businesses in Montana.
ELIGLBLE APPLICANTS: The funds are available to enrolled members of Montana’s federally recognized tribes in Montana and to enrolled members of the Little Shell Tribe residing in Montana. All applications must include documentation of tribal enrollment in the form of a Certified Indian Blood (CIB) Form or tribal ID. An application will be considered incomplete without this information.
Applications will be designated as ‘local’ or ‘at-large’ depending on the location of the business. ‘Local’ applications are those applications where the business operates on or near the reservation in which the applicant is enrolled or to members of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa. ‘At-Large’ applications are those applications where the business operates in an area of the state other than on the reservation in which the applicant is enrolled.
GRANT AMOUNT: Awards for individual businesses can be up to $14,000 with a minimum dollar to dollar cash or in-kind match ($1:$1) and must be firmly committed and documented in the application.
INFORMATION TO GATHER AND UPLOAD WITH THE APPLICATION:
- Tribal Enrollment Documentation (applications are considered incomplete without this information)
- Business Registration Documentation (if available)
- Key Business Personnel Resume(s) (high level, one page at most)
- Matching Funds Verification (i.e. loan documents, inventory list, KBB valuation)
- Historical Business Financials (if available)
APPLICATION ASSISTANCE: Applicants are required to understand his or her business model, typically found within a business plan. The Native American Business Advisor (NABA) network can be utilized for technical assistance in completing this application. Additionally, the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) Network, located throughout the state, can provide assistance. Contact Phil Belangie at (406) 721-3663 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
ELIGIBLE USE OF GRANT FUNDS (BUT NOT LIMITED TO):
- Purchase of land, building and equipment.
- Purchase of assets including furnishings, equipment and technology.
- Selected use of working capital for business operations.
Existing business owners must show how the funding will support growth in their business either through the development of a new project or with the existing business strategy.
INELIGIBLE USES OF GRANT FUNDS: The following activity will not be funded:
- Reimbursement for activities completed prior to application.
- Reimbursement for activities not related to business start-up or expansion
- Duplicative reimbursement for activities receiving funding for the same services, equipment, or improvements through any other local, state, or federal grant or funding program, except as necessary to fully fund the project.
MATCHING FUNDS REQUIREMENT: The requested grant funds require a minimum of dollar to dollar cash or in-kind match ($1:$1) and must be firmly committed and documented in the application. Cash match may include collateral such as cash or loan proceeds from a tribal loan fund, a micro loan program, or a commercial lender. In kind match may include inventory, supplies, equipment, tools or vehicles that are part of the activity of the business.
REVIEW CRITERIA FOR APPLICATIONS:
- APPLICATION QUALITY- Is the application complete, clear and logical, proofread for spelling, and/or mathematical errors?
- APPLICANT BUSINESS EXPERIENCE- Does the applicant have experience in the business that is proposed in the application? Or does the applicant demonstrate in the application that they have the capacity to endure a business start-up and make sustainable business decisions?
- FINANCIAL PROJECTIONS- Are the financial projections understandable? Is the growth rate of the business representative of realistic market demand and business capacity? For established businesses, have the most current financials been provided and explained?
- OPERATIONS- Are the operational aspects (partners, suppliers, production costs, key resources, and pricing structure) of the business identified in the application?
- MARKETING PLAN- What are the products and services that the value proposition is built around? Who is the target market and customer segment? How do the target market and the value proposition match?
- MATCH QUALITY- Is the match business or farm machinery, equipment, furniture, or fixtures? Is the match land/buildings, inventory, accounts receivable, or other assets dedicated to the business? What is the market value, unpaid balance and depreciated cost of these items? If using a business vehicle as match, equity must be documented. For example, if the vehicle has a Kelly Blue Book value of $18,000 and the applicant has an unpaid balance of $12,000, the in-kind match of the vehicle is $6,000.
- FINANCIAL NEED- The fund is designed to assist the new business start-up and or the growing small business that demonstrates a financial need in their application.
- USE OF FUNDS- for what will the funds be utilized?
- PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS- Previous Indian Equity Fund recipients will rank less competitively than applicants who have not received a previous award. In addition, previous recipient applicants must provide a business status update and meet one of the following in their application: new technology; a new product or line of products; or a new service or services.
RECEIPT OF APPLICATION- Once submitted each application is assessed by the Program. Applications that are incomplete or lack clarity can be re-opened for editing to the applicant but still must meet the application deadline.
Indian Equity Fund Online Application Checklist: this guide and checklist will help you to gather the necessary information required in your application.
Indian Country Economic Development (ICED) Program 2018-2019 Biennial Application Guidelines: these guidelines contain specific details and criteria pertaining to the Indian Equity Fund Small Business, Tribal Business Planning, and Native American Business Advisor grants.