Economic Opportunity

Helping Indigenous entrepreneurs grow their businesses with digital tools and coaching

November’s Native American Heritage Month brings new opportunities for Indigenous-owned businesses

Nov 21, 2023 3 min read

Grace Perez, Strategy & Operations Manager, YouTube Marketing, and Google Aboriginal and Indigenous Network Lead

Grace Perez is one of the global leads of the Google Aboriginal and Indigenous Network (GAIN) employee resource group. Grace is using her position to help her community; using Google’s technology to bring their businesses online, connect them with resources to build digital skills, and more.

In honor of Native American Heritage Month this year, Google continues to honor and amplify Indigenous cultures through our products and services.

According to the U.S. Census, Native American-owned businesses contribute over $35 billion to the economy and employ over 200,000 people, yet one in six businesses (16.7%) have reported complete revenue losses due to the lingering impacts of the pandemic. Now, more than ever, our businesses require adequate resources for them to thrive, and there is no denying that technology is helping create that pathway forward.

Digital Coaching for Indigenous Communities

In November 2022, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and Google announced the expansion of the Grow with Google Digital Coaches program—which equips diverse small businesses with robust digital skills—to train Indigenous-led businesses with the help of a dedicated Digital Coach from the community. Jake Foreman is the Grow with Google Indigenous Community Digital Coach and, as such, he empowers Indigenous small businesses with monthly digital skills workshops, local hands-on coaching opportunities, and events for businesses to come together and learn from one another.

Many Indigenous communities lack access to essential digital infrastructure and skills. This program provides access to training that would not be available otherwise. The workshops I lead help Indigenous-owned businesses develop their online presence, create marketing campaigns, and use digital tools to improve their operations.”

Jake Foreman, Grow with Google Indigenous Community Digital Coach

Jake is an Absentee Shawnee citizen and resides in Tiwa Territory in Albuquerque, NM. He is a Program Director at New Mexico Community Capital (NMCC) which provides culturally appropriate tools for success to emerging Indigenous-owned businesses, families, and tribal enterprises. In addition to his training expertise, Jake has personal experience in entrepreneurship. He is also the previous owner of KARUNA COLECTIVA, a storefront in downtown Albuquerque.

This November, Jake is delivering in-person workshops at the NCAI 80th Annual Convention to help Indigenous entrepreneurs grow their businesses with digital tools, including teaching small businesses how they can use the new Indigenous-owned attribute to stand out to customers.

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the impact that digital skills training can have on the lives of Indigenous entrepreneurs. Our workshops provide a space for Indigenous entrepreneurs to learn from each other, share resources, and build relationships.”

Jake Foreman

Indigenous-owned attribution in Maps and Search

Starting this November, it will now be easier to find Indigenous-owned businesses. Merchants in the U.S. with a verified Business Profile can add an Indigenous-owned attribute to their profile, making it easier for customers to find and support them through Search and Maps.

Throughout the process of creating this attribute, Google worked in partnership with NCAI and members of GAIN. This new offering joins the available Asian-owned, Black-owned, disabled-owned, Latino-owned, LGBTQ+ owned, veteran-owned and women-owned business attributes.

Our hope is that this attribute will help enable support for Indigenous-owned businesses like Eighth Generation by providing another way for consumers to support a diversity of businesses across Google’s products and platforms.

Screen of a mobile phone open on a page about a shop called Eighth Generation, including images of the storefront and links. One of the links is magnified to show the circular red, black, gray and yellow symbol denoting that the business identifies as Indigenous-owned.
The more true we can be about our identity, the more consumers can make values-based decisions to support Native-owned businesses, and thereby strengthen the actual stewards of the cultural art, and the cultural stories that they want to align with.”

Louie Gong, Nooksack member and found of lifestyle brand Eighth Generation

This work builds on Google’s efforts to broaden access to education. This year, we committed $600,000 in grants to bring culturally responsive computer science education to over 10,000 students with Indigitize, and community-building professional development to over 400 Indigenous-serving educators in partnership with the CS Alliance, AISES and CSTA.

To share the opportunity with someone who may benefit, or to sign up for a session with Jake, registration details are here.

Read more about Grow with Google’ Digital Coaches across the U.S. and join an upcoming training.