Potential entrepreneurs are competing for scholarships this week. High schoolers are presenting business models in a competition at the Lakota Nation Invitational.
Students stand in front of a panel of judges gesturing at PowerPoints and trifold posters. They answer questions about the revenue and time line of their business plans.
Angela Koenen is the Lead Coordinator for the LNI Business Competition. She’s also a coordinator at Lakota Funds, a company that deals with small business loans.
“So this year is really inspiring because we see a lot of community development and substance abuse prevention. So it’s not just about the bottom line. They want to do something to help build the economy in their communities.”
Koenen says she travels to schools with Lakota Funds to do outreach before the competition. Teachers also prepare students to make a business model.
She says there were 41 applicants this year, the highest number they’ve had since the contest started 10 years ago.
Seventeen year old Oliver Miner decided to create his own business plan this year. His idea is to reopen a restaurant that shut down nearly 10 years ago in his home town of Eagle Butte.
“I think it’s worth reopening because right now in Eagle Butte there’s no restaurants. All we have are fast foods and a couple food courts. At the Diamond A they serve Homestyle cooked meals like mashed potatoes, gravy, not french-fries and cheese burgers. That’s pretty much what I want it to be about.”
The grand prize winner has the option to become a Lakota Funds client and receive help establishing their business. Other winners are awarded scholarships and iPhones.