Native Americans face cultural and regulatory challenges related to starting their own businesses. However, there are plenty of resources designed to help Native Americans get access to federal programs, financing, and networks of other professionals.
As seen in the recent post, Exploring the State of American Entrepreneurship: A Look at the Stats, non-white entrepreneurs make up a growing percentage of new companies, according to the Kauffman Foundation, which has studied longitudinal entrepreneurship rates for 20 years.
For Native Americans, the opportunity is ever present. However, there are other issues at play, too. Tribal guidelines relating to starting a business on protected lands can be onerous. Investors, and their start-up capital, can be hard to come by in tribal lands.
Native Americans also face the challenge of often being unable to put up their homes as collateral for loans when houses on tribal loans are held in a federal trust. Cultural norms about modesty and humility also make it challenging for some entrepreneurs to talk themselves up and advocate.
Fortunately, there are opportunities at many levels. Here are four top resources for Native American entrepreneurs.
1. The Federal Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA)
Operated by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the ONAA offers tools to help with business expansion, consults with tribes, creates promotional materials, and participates in national economic development conferences.
ONAA offers a range of free assistance plans at various locations, including:
- Executive coaching about marketing, sales, product management, and financial management for Cherokee Nation residents in Oklahoma
- Our Native American Business Network, promoting microenterprise work in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
- The Native American Development Corporation which prepares small business owners for participating with the SBA’s preferred procurement program and forging relationships with other private-sector companies
2. The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development
This nonprofit organization has more than 40 years of experience and is the largest national Indian-specific business organization. The center’s mission is to develop and grow the American Indian private sector, Indian labor, and the number of tribal and individual Indian businesses.
The organization holds national conferences and provides free support services for businesses looking to market and sell to federal, state, and local governments.
It also provides networking tools, a resource center, and awards programs for entrepreneurs.
3. The Native American Business Incubator Network
This organization offers workshops and a boot camp for would-be entrepreneurs using a cohort model. A digital networking platform provides access to other Native American entrepreneurs and mentors. Much of its work is done in support of business development in the Navajo Nation.
4. The North American Contractors Association
Founded in 2003, this trade association promotes government contracting work, both as primary contractors and subcontractors. It also serves as an advocate for Native American business interests with members of Congress, federal agencies, and like-minded interest groups.
Benetrends understands the complexities of starting a business and the challenges that Native Americans and other entrepreneurs face. Our unique business model provides needed small business funding by leveraging existing 401(k) and IRA funds.
To learn more about how Benetrends can help you on your entrepreneurial journey, schedule a consultation.