Tlingit and Haida offers start-up grants for new business owners

Tribal citizens with new business ideas may be eligible for funds to help launch their small businesses through the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s start-up grant program.

Tlingit and Haida has been operating pandemic relief programs for existing small businesses run by tribal citizens for three years. In 2021, they added the federally funded small business relief start-up grant program to their list of offerings to support citizens who do not yet have a small business, but would like to develop one. This year is the second round of applications.

“We saw last year that there were a lot of people saying, ‘I want to start my business,’” said Myrna Garbner, who coordinates the grant program. “But unfortunately with high costs, inflation, gasoline and food, people have been struggling and are just barely able to cover rent, utilities, heating, etcetera. We felt like this could be a way to help people jump-start and get their careers going,” she continued.

The application deadline is Dec. 29, but funds will be awarded on a rolling basis, so early applicants will have priority. “We budgeted for 200 awards,” said Garbner. “So when we give out 200, that’s it for the year.”

The maximum award is $2,500 and most applicants receive the full award. To comply with federal law, the funds can only be used for business start-up expenses or for products to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, according to the Tlingit and Haida website.

Tribal citizens who previously received a Rescue Small Business grant from Tlingit and Haida are not eligible to apply.

Applicants must be tribal citizens who have opened or plan to open their small business in 2023. They must also take an online business course through Juneau-based small business development program Spruce Root before submitting their application. The course is self-paced, with recorded speakers, demonstrations, online modules and a certificate upon completion.

Students leave the course with a business plan and financial model that they can submit to Tlingit and Haida. Registration is free for the first 20 business course attendees — after that, it costs $25. Applying for a small business start-up grant through Tlingit and Haida is free.

Information is available on the Tlingit and Haida website and applications are open online at


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