The Lakota Fund (TLF), a community development financial institution serving small businesses on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, is one of nine organizations that will receive grants from the new Hewlett Packard Company (HP) Microenterprise Development Program.
The program, which was launched in late 2002, targets nonprofit microenterprise development organizations that serve diverse low-income communities. HP will award a total of $2.5 million to help recipients increase productivity, efficiency and effectiveness through the use of technology. Grant amounts will range from $150,000 to $300,000, pending individual needs assessments to be performed by HP.
According to TLF Executive Director Monica Drapeaux, the grant will cover hardware, software, servers, training and technical support and assistance for the Tribal Business Information Center, a computer lab at the fund's Kyle, S.D. headquarters that provides clients with PC and Internet access.
"Our current equipment is dinosaurish," comments Drapeaux. "We only have one computer in our center that actually works. Now, we'll be getting a whole IT department out of thin air. It'll enable us to better serve our clients, and we couldn't be more excited." Drapeaux hopes the grant will also cover Web site development. "We'd love to create at least a one-page site for each client," she says, "to help give every one of our businesses a presence on the Web."
As reported in the Association for Enterprise Opportunity's AEO Exchangenewsletter, HP reviewed more than 500 applications before selecting nine recipients for their diverse sizes, client bases and geographic locations. In addition to TLF, recipients are: ACCION Texas, San Antonio; Community Business Partnership, Alexandria, Va.; Detroit Entrepreneurship Institute, Inc., Detroit; New York Association for New Americans, Inc., New York City; PACE Business Development Center, Los Angeles; Philadelphia Development Partnership, Philadelphia; Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, San Francisco; and Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore, Inc., Baltimore.