The American Indian and Alaska Native populations experienced strong growth between 2000 and 2010, increasing by 39% according to the 2010 U.S. Census. While strong population growth is a good sign, troubling disparities between unemployment and poverty rates still exist. According to data released by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Indian Affairs Bureau, American Indian and Alaska Native populations had an unemployment rate that was 4.9% higher than the national average and a poverty rate that was 12% higher.
In addition to these economic challenges, Native American populations face serious challenges starting and maintaining small businesses. While recent studies show that Native American-owned small businesses are increasing, they are not driving higher incomes and more employment for their communities, and they are not utilizing business assistance resources. Many Native American business owners use external business assistance programs, still nearly 40% do not, and the vast majority do not use tribal, local, and non-SBA business assistance programs. These programs are designed to help Native American small business owners successfully start and grow their businesses, adding to the wealth of their communities. We’ve compiled a list of these resources below to highlight their good work and promote their use.
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Resources for Native American Business Owners
The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) — Without suppliers, vendors, and other business relationships, no business can thrive. For more than four decades, NCAIED has been providing resources for Native American businesses. Their primary goal is to develop businesses, work with these businesses to staff them with other Native Americans, and provide other resources the businesses may need to continue to grow and thrive.
SBA – Business Guide for Native American-Owned Businesses — The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides technical assistance and training for Native American small business owners who often face unique challenges. Assistance includes workshops, webinars, training for government contracts, and networking and partnership opportunities with non-Native American businesses. Training topics include taxes, human resources, marketing, financial management, and government contracting. With offices throughout the U.S., this is a great place to start whether you are considering starting a business, or you are interested in growing your business.
American Indian Business Associations (AIBA) — The University of New Mexico has compiled a great resource directory for Native American business owners and entrepreneurs. This guide helps you easily identify opportunities for mentoring, business development workshops, training opportunities, and even offers several guides to developing a strong business plan.
First Nations Grant Seeker Resources — Training webinars, grant opportunities, and tips on how to successfully apply for grants for your business are all available on this website. First Nations Development Institute also provides its own grant opportunities. It is a BBB Accredited charity and has a Charity Navigator score of 97.13 out of 100. First Nations resources include not only business resources, but also resources to help develop better partnerships inside your community. This is a must review site for all Native American entrepreneurs.
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) — Since 1944, Alaska Natives and American Indians have found NCAI to be a vital part of the activities of their communities. From working on business and economic development issues, and protection of the legal rights of business owners and individuals, NCAI provides a vital source of advocacy and leadership for Native American communities at the state and national levels.
Additional Helpful Resources
COVID-19 Assistance — Like every business in the United States, Native American business owners have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) has put together a guide for personal protective equipment (PPE), along with information on where and how to safely procure PPE to reopen your business. Following OSHA’s guidelines for reopening is important to ensure your business can open safely and remain open.
Government Contracts — Native American business owners are often uncertain as to what processes they must follow to obtain larger contracts, particularly government contracts. The U. S. Department of Defense has put together a set of guidelines and instructions on how Native American business owners can participate in the government procurement process.
Free and Low-Cost Legal Resources for Business Owners — Business contracts and documents can be costly if you have to hire an attorney to draw them up for you. Instead of hiring a lawyer to draw up documents, use the free or low-cost resources provided by Rocket Lawyer. You will find a broad range of customizable documents for your business, including HR manuals, business contracts, employment and independent contractor agreements, vendor agreements, and more. You can also use the Ask a Lawyer service if you have a legal question.
Small and mid-sized businesses play a vital role in overall economic growth in the U.S. Small businesses alone account for more than 90% of all new businesses formed, and more than 50% of all jobs created in the United States. Native American businesses help their individual communities and help reduce poverty. We all have a vested interest in ensuring their continued success.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.