As National Native American Heritage Month, November is a time to celebrate the enduring legacy of tribal culture, history, and self-preservation. For the SBA specifically, it is an opportunity to support Native American entrepreneurs and highlight their impressive contributions. Take Carrie Hill, for example. A Haudenosaunee member from the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, Carrie turned her multigenerational family tradition of basketmaking into a business with the help of the SBA. After consulting her local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in New York, Carrie founded Chill Baskets, a gift shop that showcases the artistic expression of the Haudenosaunee people.
Carrie’s story is just one of many. Native American small business owners employ hundreds of thousands and generate billions in annual revenue. The SBA Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) has the following resources to help Native American entrepreneurs achieve small business success:
- Empowerment workshops. The SBA maintains partnerships that provide a variety of educational tools such as Sister Sky, Inc. Participants of this free workshop enjoy culturally appropriate curricula that include webinars, real-time instruction, peer networking, and technical assistance tailored for individual need. The workshops are designed for both Native-owned businesses and non-native businesses partnering with Native individuals, tribes, or communities.
- Resource partners. The SBA’s extensive resource partner network is available to all small business owners. SCORE mentors, SBDCs, Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers, and Community Navigators are always on standby to provide low- or no-cost training, counseling, and mentoring.
- Technical assistance. Marketing, strategic and operational planning, financial analysis, opportunity development and capture, contract management, and compliance — ONAA offers technical assistance that covers it all. The types and substance of assistance available under the program are dynamic and need-driven.
- Financing. SBA-guaranteed loans can help Native American entrepreneurs break into business ownership. By reducing lender risk, the SBA makes it easier for entrepreneurs to get the access to capital they need.
- Contracting opportunities. The SBA offers contracting opportunities for experienced socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners through the 8(a) Business Development program. Certified businesses have access to the 5% of federal contracting dollars the government aims to sit aside for such businesses each year. There are also opportunities for selling your products and services to the government through the System for Award Management (SAM.gov). Register at SAM.gov, then search to see if any federal agencies are looking for your product or services. For additional subcontracting opportunities, search SBA SubNet.