Creative Nations Collective and Creative Startups have joined together to bring Indigenous creatives a new business resource— The Creative Nations Innovation Challenge. Sponsored by the Kenneth King Foundation, this six-week program is for Native makers, artists, innovators, and visionaries looking to disrupt the status quo and put Native creativity at the forefront of the creative business world. By working with world-class Native business mentors, collaborating with a cohort of like-minded creatives, and engaging in an intensive, hands-on program, participating entrepreneurs will be uniquely positioned to find mission-aligned investors, raise financing, connect to like-minded partners and collaborators and launch their brands into new markets around the world.
The Innovation Challenge meetings will be conducted online, and the program will culminate in an in-person Deep Dive event at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder, Colorado. Applications for the Innovation Challenge are open until May 15th, and interested creatives can apply here.
While Indigenous creativity is the bedrock of North America’s cultural heritage, uplifting Native entrepreneurs and creators also have a far-reaching fiscal influence beyond Indigenous communities. During Native American Heritage Month, the Library of Congress reported that Indigenous businesses have an economic impact of $14 billion and that the number of Native-owned businesses has grown by a staggering 15.3% since 2007. Organizations like Creative Nations have made great strides to ensure this Native creative success. Founded to provide a permanent onsite establishment for Indigenous artists at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder, Colorado, Creative Nations continues to provide space and events to create space for creation and collaboration as well as opportunities for all Indigenous artists to thrive. “Working alongside the Creative Nations team is exciting for us,” said Creative Startups CEO Alice Loy. “They have their finger on the pulse of really dynamic— weird and wonderful as we say— Indigenous culture and trends. Partnering up allows us to expand support to entrepreneurs building truly inclusive economic gains.”
In addition to Creative Startup’s exciting opportunity to work with Creative Nations, they are proud to be collaborating with Creative Nation’s founding member, Kelly Holmes. Holmes is also the Editor-in-Chief and President of Native Max Magazine, a digital media company devoted to inspiring, entertaining, and celebrating Indigenous people through positive storytelling. Their 2022 issue— Expanding Indigenous Womanhood— celebrating Native women doing important work in their communities and beyond— featured supermodel and activist Quannah Chasinghorse, who inspired Met Gala viewers with a dazzling display of her heritage and culture. Holmes is the perfect partner for a program aimed at Indigenous creatives.
Of the new challenge, Holmes stated, “I am very excited to be working with Creative Startups on this innovative program. Creative Nations and Creative Startups share a common goal of helping accelerate and empower creatives. Indigenous people are some of the most creative people, and as our organizations work together to support Indigenous creatives we’ll be able to provide advocacy, connections, resources, and training necessary to succeed.”
The program is Creative Startup’s newest venture into accelerating Indigenous creative businesses. Through partnerships with the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) and the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED), Creative Startups has had the pleasure of working with over 40 Native startups. Through a grant with the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Foundation, IPCC and Creative Startups were able to develop an online portal tailored specifically for Native communities, with case studies of Native entrepreneurs and tribal ventures that inspire, challenge, and problem-solve with Native entrepreneurs. Having served 425 companies from 19 countries, raising over $300 million in USD investments, and creating more than 800 jobs, Creative Startups is the only accelerator working globally with creators and creative entrepreneurs and is excited to work with more Indigenous organizations to provide educational opportunities for Native innovators.
Those interested can apply here.