The holidays are here and young entrepreneurs in Fort Apache, Arizona, are getting into the spirit with the help of the Arrowhead Business Group.
Employees at the Arrowhead Cafe recently provided freshly made bread and soup for the annual “Santa at the Fort” festivities while photographers working with the business incubator took pictures of kids spending time with Santa (see photo of festivities below). And, in the spirit of giving, the proceeds went to a Whiteriver children’s shelter.
Young artists are also currently selling handcrafted Christmas ornaments at the Cafe. The business incubator and Cafe represent a collaborative effort between the White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health known as the Apache Entrepreneurship Program (or the Arrowhead Business Group).
Persistent poverty and unemployment on American Indian reservations present forbidding obstacles to health and well-being. Entrepreneurship education may offer a way out for young people. The Apache Entrepreneurship Program seeks to foster autonomy and resilience in communities, while keeping youth attached to school and creating a vision for their future.
The incubator offers space and materials for entrepreneurs to build their businesses while the Cafe offers employment and healthy foods featuring locally grown ingredients. The program has been designed and implemented through a multi-year grant from Barclays.
The National Institutes of Health is supporting a partnership between Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health and the White Mountain Apache Tribe to evaluate the programs impacts on children’s education and health status. So far, results have been encouraging.
The Cafe has proven to be another success story. It is close to becoming financially sustainable and has attracted interest as a meeting place for community organizations, departments of the tribal government, and the Indian Health Service. It has also become the ideal spot for displaying and selling items made by community members. Current popular items include Christmas ornaments, screen-printed t-shirts, survival bracelets (for outdoor exploration), paintings, and photography.
With further results about the programs effectiveness, the Center for American Indian Health aspires to scale the program to other communities.