Native American-Owned Small Businesses

According to the most recent Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 270,000 Native American-owned businesses in the United States. Check out these federal resources designed to support Native American-owned businesses as well as ways you can support them yourself!

Resources for Native American Business Owners (Or Aspiring Native American Business Owners)

Starting a business is no easy task. However, with the right support and know-how, it can lead to a very rewarding and fruitful career! There are a number of federally-sponsored programs to assist Native American small business owners with contracting and business development in the United States. A few highlights include:

  1. The Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) – The ONAA is known for its involvement in the 8(a) Business Development Program, which is designed to provide more equitable access to federal contracting opportunities to minority-owned businesses. They also hold some strategic alliances with other organizations that share their goal of supporting the creation, development, and expansion of small businesses in the Native American community.
  2. Technical Assistance – Provided in many locations throughout the country, technical assistance is available for free to Native American business owners. Technical assistance includes things like training on sales, marketing, financial planning, computer literacy, taxes, human resources, government contracting, and more. There are also opportunities for support with business plan development and business relationship building.
  3. Entrepreneurial Empowerment Workshops – There are a variety of workshops offered by both RedWind and Sister Sky, Inc. focused on entrepreneurial empowerment within the Native American community. There have been some changes to the workshop schedules due to COVID-19, but upcoming opportunities are listed on each organization’s website.

Are you a Native American small business owner? Let us know by emailing us at career@uconn.edu; we would love to feature your story! Are you a Native American student thinking about or working on becoming a small business owner? Set up a career coaching appointment via Handshake to discuss your plans with a career coach and get some advice about the next steps.

Support Native American-Owned Small Businesses

If you are not personally Native American or an entrepreneur, you can still support Native American entrepreneurs by supporting Native American owned businesses. The American Indian Business Alliance has a directory of Native American-owned businesses on their website that range from healthcare to electronics to clothing to coffee and more. You can also find crowdsourced lists like this Buy Native List developed by Beyond Buckskin, a website and business dedicated to promoting and selling Native American made fashion, or this list of 20+ Native American-Owned Businesses to Shop, which includes beauty stores, bookstores, clothing and shoe stores, home stores, and jewelry stores.

You can also check out the hashtag #nativeSBA on social media to find Native American entrepreneurs who are sharing their work or being featured by other publications.

Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels