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SBA Honors Tribal Entrepreneurs During Native American Heritage Month

Release Date: 
Friday, November 20, 2020
Release Number: 

By Shawn Pensoneau and Dan Nordberg

The rich and vibrant culture of Native Americans is woven in the fabric of the United States, and the history of innovation and entrepreneurship remains rooted in tribal communities. To honor this storied legacy, November is designated as Native American Heritage Month.

Today, more than 54 percent of Native Americans live in rural areas, and 273,000 businesses are Native-owned. In recent years, Native Americans have had an increased impact on national business development. Operations owned by Native Americans grew by 15 percent, according to the most recent data.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is committed to the health and success of tribal entrepreneurial development and is working aggressively to increase access to funding and opportunities for rural Native American-owned small businesses.

Through no-fee, tailored technical assistance, SBA promotes business development for Native entrepreneurs and businesses on reservations. This technical assistance is available small businesses. Key areas of technical assistance include starting a business, business plan development, financial planning, computer literacy, marketing, human resources, government contracting, and financial management. More information about programs specific to tribal nations can be found at in the Native American-owned businesses resource section.

Traditional SBA loan programs also support economic development for Native entrepreneurs. SBA’s resources are geared to provide capital to small businesses. The flagship 7(a) loan program provides funds for working capital, to purchase real estate, equipment, or inventory. Or the proceeds can be used to refinance business debt. The 504 Certified Development Company Loan is useful for purchasing heavy equipment or renovating real estate by providing competitive fixed-rate financing. Microloans allow eligible businesses to start or grow with working capital for supplies, equipment, furniture, and fixtures by borrowing $500 to $50,000 and accessing free business counseling from microlenders. Find more specifics on these programs at

The Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) are part of the SBA’s America’s Seed Fund that provides over $4 billion to startups and small businesses each year. SBIR and STTR funds help foster entrepreneurship and innoavation. Through a competitive process, small businesses submit proposals that address specific research and development needs with the potential for commercialization. Learn more about SBIR and STTR at

Each November, the SBA is proud to honor the growing number of Native American entrepreneurs, a vitally important economic driver for advancement throughout rural communities around the country. As leaders within the agency, we will continue partnering with tribal and rural leaders as we seek to expand opportunities and promote small business growth.

Pensoneau is the SBA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Native American Affairs and is an enrolled member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma. Nordberg serves as the SBA’s National Director for Rural Affairs.