A project that started first as a simple tribal enterprise plan by the Nisqually Tribe in Olympia, Washington soon took a remarkable twist. TERO Director and former Tribal Chairwoman and current Assistant CEO, Cynthia Iyall had a burgeoning idea to turn a profitable business into a way to make tribal members into instant entrepreneurs. Alan Poh of Kuleana took her strong directive and by using his vast knowledge of the workings of the screen printing process, turned that idea into a functional reality.
Here are the basics of the program:
The budding student/entrepreneur must first take the House of Skills garment screen printing. This course is taught by accomplished students that have excelled in the course and is run in a functional and profitable screen printing set up by Kuleana. Each student is required to learn all phases of the program and be proficient in each part.
If the student shows interest in becoming their own business and building a customer base, they agree to the appreticeship program. This program requires each student to spend 100 hours minimum, working in the Nisqually shop working on repetition and increasing their knowledge and skill set. For that time spent learning the working process, each student upon completion, will be given 500 credits toward ordering shirts and supplies for their own outside sales. When reaching this milestone, students can use these credits to place shirt and material orders or continue working to accrue more credits for even bigger orders.
When the fledgling business people decide to branch out into entrepreneurship, they are encouraged to reach out to their friends, community, and resources. All sales and print scheduling still go through the House of Skills. This way the budding business person is still being coached and prepped for success. The student is responsible for customer relations, art, printing, setting price, and delivery. After each job, the entrepreneur must fill out a profit and loss form and submit a copy to House of Skills in order to give the student a real world feel of costs and business. Money from the job deposit will go back into resetting the credit account so that the student can continue to sell jobs and make profit. The student can amplify his credit account by adding money derived from job profit to that account. Money added by the student to the account is returnable, but the original credit amount is non-transferable.
Here is a sample student transaction:
50 shirts @$10 per =$500.00 billing
50 shirts x $1.93 per cost =$96.50
50 shirts x $2.00 overhead/supply cost =$100.00
50 shirts profit = $303.50 to the student entrepreneur
The money gained in the overhead charge is used to not only cover expendibles and utilities, but to help fund the credit system in whole. We have effectively created a system where the students support the project AND other students while acquiring working repetitions, comfort and advanced skill sets. Repetition becomes the mother of skill. The advancing student also learns profit and loss, marketing, customer relations,responsibility, as well as gaining a basis of understanding of the financial benefits of being an entrepreneur.
The brilliant aspect of this idea is that the core element of the House of Skills project grows stronger by creating an environment where students are helping students to succeed. At the same time, the students is given an extended safety net while building knowledge and experience. Advanced techniques and business acumen are continually taught. A true Win/Win situation is created with real world tangible results.
Internships that turn tribal members into their own businesses
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