Starting a business nowadays requires strength, endurance and resilience, qualities that over the years, Native American communities have proven to have. However, their growth may be slowed or affected by misconducts they face every day. Discrimination, disparity of opportunities, and lack of access to financing are just some of the obstacles they experience.
A possibility to address these challenges are small business grants for minorities, that soften some of the impact of the pandemic and may even facilitate the creation of new opportunities for Native American businesses.
Until 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 6.8 million American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those who have more than one race. And as of 2016, there were more than 29,000 businesses owned by people of the same race.
On crisis times like the ones we are living in, the disparities Native Americans face, become more visible, for example, the lack of access to health services, unemployment or even the few financial services available for them. In these times, these services are crucial to keeping their businesses afloat.
Businesses in the Native American Community
Currently, Native American businesses have diversified, developing companies in areas as diverse as telecommunications or fashion. One of the tools they have found to obtain capital and compete with companies worldwide has been small business grants for minorities.
Some examples of successful businesses are the company founded by Chippewa Indians, Island Communications, which provides broadband, engineering and consulting services to tribal nations. And on the other hand, designers like B. Yellowtail of North Cheyenne/Crow are making their way in the fashion and accessories industries.
The retail segment has provided them with successful results, some examples are boutiques like Beyond Buckskin, NotAbove jewelry, Birchbark Books, Eighth Generation housewares stores and in cosmetics, Ah-shi Beauty.
It should be noted that the owners of the last brand are from the Navajo nation, which from the beginning of the pandemic faced temporary closure of its two stores and found in the online sales a viable alternative.
Like them, all companies have been strongly affected and if we think that these businesses also have to deal with prejudice, disparity and discrimination, the situation is even more complicated.
Help never hurts
To boost the development of Native American communities, the best help is to buy from local producers and service providers, so consumers are vital for this purpose. One way tribal nations have found to sustain their economy is through entrepreneurship. However, the lack of capital to start a business from the ground up is one of the biggest obstacles.
The alternative business owners have resorted in order to sustain their companies is the use of small business grants for minorities, which consists of financial aid for companies, without the obligation to pay. Since it is not a loan, Native Americans can invest in the growth of their businesses, it is an assistance that tries to reduce the historical gap of lack of opportunities.
The importance of Native American heritage
If we take into consideration that by 2060, the American Indian and Alaska Native population is estimated to reach 10 million people, entrepreneurship in this sector will increase, and consequently, their economy could stabilize.
The role of small business grants for minorities is extremely important as a support for the development of Native nations within the U.S. Native Americans have proven to be successful in the business world and the number of companies has grown steadily.
There are agencies that specialize in distributing these small business grants for minorities, but the consumer also has the opportunity to help these companies, which will encourage fair competition for Native American entrepreneurs.
It's December 2020, can you help...
We’re asking our readers for a little help as 2020 draws to a close. If you can afford it, we hope you’ll consider a one-time donation of $5 or more to help fund our Indigenous-led coverage of important news throughout Indian Country. Covering the news hasn’t been easy this year, but we believe it’s been critically important given the changes and upheaval we’ve experienced — from COVID-19 and the 2020 Census, to issues of racial equity, efforts to suppress the Native vote, and far too many stories of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.
Because we believe everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities, the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. But we hope it inspires you to make a gift to Native News Online so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount, big or small, gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.