Business Grants for Native Americans

The United States has developed a unique political and legal relationship with Native American tribes, under the U.S. Constitution, court decisions, treaties and Federal statutes. As such, there are various business grants for Native Americans that are available through a wide variety of governmental entities.

With the many opportunities for Native Americans, their small business ownership has been on the rise. As such, Native Americans have continued to make great strides and significant contributions in industries such as tourism, energy and construction. This also adds more depth to the economic health of both tribes and society with increased job creation.


Typically, in order to obtain specially targeted grant programs designed to help establish or expand Native American small businesses, individuals must be enrolled in a tribal nation and be officially recognized as a tribe member. Below are some of the agencies that offer opportunities for Native Americans to apply for grants.

  1. Division of Economic Development serves as a facilitator for the Office of Native American Affairs. The organization works to foster sustainable economies, create jobs and empower Native Americans to determine their own economic future. For example, to identify various ways for states to include Native American nations, tribes and pueblos in fund planning by matching monies through community block grants.
  2. Bureau of Indian Affairs is sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior and provides services through contracts, compacts, grants or direct access. Over 564 recognized tribes with service populations of around 1.9 million may access programs to improve their tribal government and community infrastructures.
  3. Office of Native Affairs creates, develops and expands small businesses through grant and funding programs to aid in entrepreneurial Native American development.
  4. The U.S. Department of Commerce offers a variety of grant programs for Native Americans. The most common program providing business grants is through “zone grant funding.” Through the program, the Department of Commerce establishes geographic regions that are in need of economic enhancement and assistance.For example, certain Native American reservations can be established as economic zones and then are targeted as areas suitable for grant assistance. Local agencies provide grant funding that comes directly from Department of Commerce agencies. Then local agencies provide grant funding to each qualifying Native American small business in that zone.
  5. Tribal Grants are offered as a result of gaming revenue that is generated by Native American tribal lands and mineral leases. Native American small businesses can apply for business grants that are under the management of the local tribal governments. These particular grant programs are usually most responsible to Native American tribe members with the intention to employ fellow members.
  6. Native American Business Enterprise Centers are established each year both in various areas within the United States, as well as for the tribal regions. These centers are designed for economically challenged areas and funds are offered to many minority owned businesses, including those of Native Americans.
  7. Small Business Administration offers a range of grants to Native American entrepreneurs for virtually any type of industry.
  8. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a primary provider of business housing for Indian reservations and communities. The Office of Native American Programs also sponsors Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHE) and Indian Housing Authorities (IHA).

Business Services Offered

The financial assistance and grant awards offered also provide Native Americans with advice and counseling in specific areas such as business assessment and strategic planning. Services can consist of preparing financial aid documents, business counseling and information on management, accounting and marketing.

In addition, some programs include assistance with site analysis, engineering, production, construction and business identification and procurement of business opportunities. The goal of all of the Native American business grants is to offer opportunities for long-term and sustainable development to improve the quality of life for all tribe members.