Celebrating National Native American Heritage Month: Giving Native-Owned Small Businesses the Tools They Need
by Christopher James, SBA Official
- Created: November 8, 2012, 12:53 pm
- Updated: November 8, 2012, 1:17 pm
National Native American Heritage Month gives us a chance to reflect on the importance to the national economy of American Indian and Alaska Native populations. Growing up in a small family business in Cherokee, North Carolina, I know first-hand how essential Native-owned small businesses are to our tribes and communities. I have seen how small Native American-owned businesses can shape a community and how tribal citizen entrepreneurs flourish by creating sustainable and lasting jobs.
Today, there are nearly 240,000 Native American-owned small businesses in the U.S., and SBA is doing what it can to increase those numbers and encourage their growth. In just the last four years SBA supported more than $400 million in lending to Native American-owned small businesses.
Emphasizing the importance of Native Americans in helping to shape the nation’s character and cultural heritage, President Obama has issued a proclamation on National Native American Heritage Month. The President’s proclamation said, “In collaboration with tribal nations, we are making critical investments to improve health and education services, create jobs, and strengthen tribal economies.”
SBA developed the Native American Small Business Primer: Strategies for Success to help Native American entrepreneurs prepare for business ownership. It’s a free online business course that gives an overview of essential business principles and of SBA’s programs and services that help business owners get started. The course is an important tool for American Indians, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian business owners that can help in our nation’s overall economic health by creating new businesses and creating jobs.
One such Native-owned small business is Mark Masters, CEO of Choleta Fire LLC, in Oklahoma City. Mark was the SBA’s 2012 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Winner. A tribal member of the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation, Mark launched Choleta Fire in 2009 at the age of 26. Within two years the company had grown from one employee to 65.
We want to help create more success stories like Mark’s so that Native American companies can thrive in business. And we expect to make additional tools available to help Native American companies start and grow like the SBA’s Government Contracting Classroom, a series of online courses to help prospective and existing small businesses learn how to contract with federal agencies.
We also continue to work with our Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and other community lenders to encourage them to make more small-dollar loans available in Native American and underserved communities with SBA's Small Loan Advantage and Microloan programs.
SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs is working hard to provide the needed tools and resources, and our ultimate goal is to help spur job creation and to stimulate economic and business development in Native American communities.
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