The Indian Country Programs will begin accepting applications to the fiscal year 2020 Indian Equity Fund (IEF) Small Business Grant program starting July 1, 2019. Applications will be accepted through September 30, 2019. 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 66th Montana State Legislature as part of House Bill 2 and signed into law by Governor Steve Bullock in May 2019. 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.
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)
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.
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?
- APPLICATION PROJECT REQUIREMENTS-It is critical that the reviewers have a clear understanding of how the grant funds will be used. Did the application include a listing of all of the assets of the business? This will tell us your current capacity. Did the application show in detail the use of the grant funds? This will tell the reviewers how these assets will help your business start or expand. When necessary was documentation of use of funds shown such as price quotes, equipment or inventory to be purchased, photos of facilities to be upgraded or other documentation that will provide support for a quality application. Did the cash flow projections reflect the use of funds? This will show how your use of project funds will impact your sales, expenses and if you will have positive cash flow at the end of a year. Does the application have a written project narrative that reflects the use of the grant funds? The written narrative and the cash flow projections (narrative in dollars) should describe the same project development.
- APPLICANT BUSINESS EXPERIENCE- Does the applicant have experience in the business that is proposed in the application? If the applicant doesn’t have experience, has the applicant demonstrated in the application that they have the capacity to endure a business start-up and make sustainable business decisions?
- FINANCIAL PROJECTIONS- Are the cash flow projections convincing and understandable? 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 vehicle as match, equity must be documented. For example, if a business vehicle has a Kelly Blue Book value of $18,000 and the applicant has an unpaid balance of $12,000, then 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.
- PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS- An applicant that has previously received an Indian Equity Fund Small Business Grant will rank less competitively than other applicants who have not received a previous award. In addition, an applicant who was a previous recipient must provide a status update of the business and meet one of the below criteria 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 Country Economic Development (ICED) Program 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.