The Cherokee Nation, along with The University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business, and StitchCrew have unveiled the five companies graduating from the Cherokee Women Accelerator, a program designed to expand access to Cherokee Women Entrepreneurs.
Five Cherokee, women-owned companies were selected from a pool of more than 130 applicants from across the country, to participate in an intensive six-week program where selected participants explored growth principles, assessed capital needs, and improved their business model to facilitate scale. During the program, participants also received mentorship from successful entrepreneurs, including Betsy Fore, co-founder of Tiny Organics and the first Native woman in history to raise more than $20 million to date, and renowned Osage Fashion Designer, Dante Biss-Grayson, founder of Sky-Eagle Collection.
“Native American women often face a unique set of challenges within the business community, including systematic disparities, harmful and inaccurate stereotypes, discrimination, and lack of resources,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “I believe the Cherokee Nation has an obligation to support Native American women in pursuing their ambitions of creating, refining, and growing businesses of their own. Through partnerships and programs such as this, that help Cherokee women overcome those obstacles and achieve their dreams, we are honoring that obligation and furthering Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma’s success.”
The five companies in the Cherokee women inaugural cohort include:
- Because I’m A Nurse, a Future of Work company tackling the nurse labor shortage crisis by helping nursing education organizations address the 74% failure rate in nursing students’ dosage calculation exams so they can improve graduation rates. Founded by LaToya Smith.
- ClaimRev, a claims processing and tribal mobile health company, decreasing claim denials, boosting operational efficiency, and maximizing reimbursements for customers through its proprietary custom rules engine. Founded by Amber Sharp.
- Jobworx, a Future of Work company reinventing the way employers and job seekers connect through its talent recruitment platform that matches job seekers and employers in the hourly job market with just a swipe. Founded by Andrea Roten.
- Motor Mouth Therapy, a care economy company providing on-site therapy services to families, educators, and caregivers so they can focus on helping children reach their goals at home, school, or day care. Founded by Caitlin Bruder.
- Provision Pantry, a food service company providing meal preparation, juicing, and full-service catering services to the entertainment industry, large corporations, and government agencies. Founded by Amber Behrens.
“This first-of-its-kind program is one of the most rewarding opportunities for our entrepreneurship faculty to create meaningful connections in our community and play a small part in building sustainable businesses with these visionary Cherokee women,” said Kathy Taylor, dean of TU’s Collins College of Business.
The program, made possible in large part by Collins College of Business, as well as The Cherokee Nation – which provided a $10,000 non-dilutive grant to each participant – also received support from Bank of the West, Google, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and VEST Her Ventures.
“The University of Tulsa believes strongly in our role to elevate the economic growth of this region,” said TU President Brad R. Carson. “This partnership between Collins College of Business and The Cherokee Nation creates a new model by which universities can build viable programs for Indigenous women entrepreneurs.”
In addition to the mentorship received throughout the program, participants also receive access to VEST Peer Network, where they have the opportunity to expand their network with other professional women and receive executive coaching year-round.
The Cherokee Nation, Collins College of Business, and StitchCrew will host a private event on Nov. 9 to celebrate and introduce the five companies to the community at large. One of the program’s goals is to increase awareness on the types of companies Cherokee women are building. For more information, visit https://www.stitchcrew.com/cherokee-women-accelerator