In 2021 the ND SBDC announced the development of a brand-new new position titled the Specialty Service Director to enhance our outreach to and business advising capabilities for underserved populations. Tyler Demars, who was introduced in our November update, was hired to fill the position and bolster business resources for underserved populations in North Dakota.
“While entrepreneurs can come from any demographic, life experience, or situational background, there are trends and common challenges related to identified population groups or communities that limit access to small business ownership. Individuals from these communities are both underrepresented related to entrepreneurship ranks in our state and underserved by the benefits of entrepreneurship, which include wealth creation, job creation, community development, and increased community sovereignty.”
A key priority of our network in 2022 is to increase opportunities and enhance existing programming and business services for North Dakota’s underserved populations.
The Small Business Administration releases a Small Business Profile for each state annually. North Dakota’s 2021 profile reported business ownership by demographic in the State and highlighted the disparities in business ownership for minorities and underserved populations. View the full report.
While Native Americans are the most significantly underserved population in our state, new Americans, women, new entrepreneurs, and rural entrepreneurs all face challenges including access to capital, access to professional networking and mentorship, and systemic discrimination and oppression.
It is the goal of the ND SBDC to support underserved communities in improving access to entrepreneurship, leveraging opportunities, and helping these entrepreneurs and businesses overcome the unique challenges they face. We cannot do it alone and we are extremely grateful and honored to partner with many other organizations across our state in helping our neighbors from underserved communities as they navigate their entrepreneurial journeys.
In addition to our efforts to increase services and opportunities for business owners who identify with an underserved community, we also want to increase the visibility of these individuals. Visibility and representation in media are powerful tools when dismantling stereotypes and unconscious biases. For an underserved individual who is unsure about pursuing a business dream, seeing a successful business owner who is “like them” in terms of group identity or background can greatly influence their confidence and perception that they can be successful.
Understanding the roles that media and visibility play in building confidence and pursuing business ownership, check out testimony and stories from some business owners who identify with underserved communities whom we have been honored to work with.
Mike and Megan White Owl own this family-run business alongside their children. They specialize in homemade frybread and can be found parked near New Town, ND Memorial Day through Labor Day.
“We found the ND SBDC came highly recommended. When I reached out, I was referred to Mary Beth. She was patient, kind, answered all of our questions with confidence, was extremely helpful, and helped educate us!”
Jawaid Surani is the business owner and entrepreneur behind Williston’s sprawling indoor playland with trampolines, arcade games, bumper cars, VR games, and a restaurant.
“I didn’t think I could build this. I started believing after I had a meeting with Keith. I had a business plan in my head. But I did not know how to put it on paper. Keith helped me with everything.”
Paul’s C-Store & Gas, Fort Totten
Justin Yankton is the proud owner of Paul’s C-Store & Gas in Fort Totten, located within Spirit Lake Reservation.
“Sandy was able to give direction, advice, and information on how to start and where to begin on my business plan. One of the most difficult challenges of starting your own business is just getting started and Sandy was able to help me overcome that hurdle with her patience and expertise within the industry.”
We are excited to build upon our programs and resources for underserved communities in 2022 and beyond. Explore our upcoming training opportunities, and as always, if you believe that you or someone you know would benefit from our services contact us to get started and schedule an appointment.
Tiffany Ford, State Director
And all the Staff of the ND Small Business Development Network