Small Business Grants For Native Americans

Last Updated on February 1, 2024 by Lori Pace

If you’re a Native American entrepreneur looking to start or grow a small business, you know how challenging it can be to find the necessary funding. Fortunately, there are a variety of small business grants and loan programs available specifically for Native Americans. With these resources, you can access the financial support you need to turn your entrepreneurial dreams into reality.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the top small business grants and loan programs available to Native Americans, including the U.S. Department of the Interior Indian Loan Guarantee Program, the NDN Fund, the Minnesota Indian Business Loan Program, and more.

We’ll also provide tips for strengthening your grant or loan application, as well as additional resources for finding funding for your small business. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to take your business to the next level, this guide will help you navigate the world of small business grants for Native Americans. 

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund

The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund is a nonprofit organization that offers fair and affordable lending to financially disadvantaged communities, including Native Americans in Indian Country, with lower interest rates and business coaching.

As a valuable resource for Indigenous entrepreneurs, CDFIs offer reasonable interest rates and additional resources like financial education and coaching to help small businesses succeed.  

Indian Loan Guarantee and Insurance Program

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is a federal government agency that backs the Indian Loan Guarantee program. Technically, the agency does not provide direct loans. Instead, it helps business owners secure financing or loans for banks and other lenders by providing a repayment guarantee. The program promises to cover up to 90% of the unpaid principal amount if the borrower ever fails to pay. 

NDN Collective Relief and Resilience Program

NDN Fund’s Relief and Resilience Program offers small business loans and support services up to $500,000 for Indigenous-owned small businesses. With a focus on community development and economic sustainability, NDN Fund is committed to supporting indigenous businesses to grow and move past the hardships brought about by the pandemic crisis. 

Minnesota Indian Business Loan Program

This loan program is specifically designed to assist Native American business development in tribal communities in Minnesota. It offers financing options for start-up and existing businesses, as well as technical assistance programs for business planning and economic development.

The Minnesota Indian Business Loan Program is a great alternative to federal programs. It offers unique benefits like low-cost interest rates and flexible repayment terms. 

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans

As a Native American small business owner, taking advantage of SBA loans is a great way to access financial resources and support for your business. The SBA focuses on helping minority-owned businesses and provides technical assistance to help you succeed.

The SBA offers three loan options: the 7(a) Loan Program, 504 Loans, and Microloans. These provide you with more flexibility and autonomy over the funds. Whether you need capital for inventory, equipment, or marketing, SBA loans are an excellent financing option for Native American business development. 

First Nations Development Institute

The First Nations Development Institute is a Colorado-based nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Native Americans and tribal governments through economic development programs.

Their mission is to provide grant funds and technical assistance to support the growth of small businesses in Native American communities. They work closely with federal support for Native businesses and minority-owned business programs to ensure that Native American entrepreneurs can access the resources they need to succeed. 

Regional Development Corporation (RDC) Funding

The Regional Development Corporation (RDC) is a New Mexico-based nonprofit organization that offers funding opportunities to Native American entrepreneurs. This program specifically caters to small businesses headquartered in the following locations: Los Alamos, Mora, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, San Miguel, Santa Fe, and Taos Counties.

The RDC funding offers various funding programs, including Tribal Economic Diversity Fund, Micro-Grant Fund, and Technology & Manufacturing (TEAM) Fund. 

Indian Equity Fund (IEF) Small Business Grants

Native American-owned businesses can apply for the Indian Equity Fund (IEF) small business grants, available for start-up and expanding businesses in Montana. These grants are specifically designed to provide financial support to Native American small business owners and are administered by the Montana Department of Commerce. 

Business & Industry Loan Guarantee

The Business & Industry Loan Guarantee program is offered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program guarantees loans from eligible lenders to rural businesses, including those owned by Native Americans.

With this loan guarantee, entrepreneurs can loan up to $25 million with a below-market interest rate and extended terms of up to 30 years. 

Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is a federal unit under the U.S. Department of Commerce. This agency provides valuable resources and support to minority businesses. It also offers entrepreneurs financial grants of up to $300,000 to establish, grow, or develop their businesses. 

Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI) Grant

The Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI) is a federal grant program that offers funding for feasibility studies on businesses owned by indigenous tribes, including Native Americans. Thus, strengthening the capabilities of these entrepreneurs to create more informed economic decisions for their businesses. 

Accion Opportunity Fund

The Accion Opportunity Fund is a nonprofit financial support organization that works towards the advancement of businesses of Indigenous Americans. It offers flexible loans that are structured to conform to every entrepreneur’s business goals and needs. 

Indian Incentive Program (IIP)

The Indian Incentive Program (IIP) is a project spearheaded by the Department of Defense. This incentive program aims to provide opportunities for entrepreneurs of Native American heritage to gain financial support for their ventures. The IIP offers a 5% rebate to prime contractors who subcontract with native-owned small businesses.  

Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program

The Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program is a great opportunity for small business grants for Native Americans. This program is intended specifically for indigenous entrepreneurs looking to invest in sustainable tribal energy development projects.  

Other Resources for Small Business Grants

In addition to the wide range of Indian business grants and loan programs available, there is also a broad range of other resources for small business grants for Native Americans. The American community offers a number of indigenous opportunities for funding, including grants from nearby offices and private foundations.

Numerous organizations and foundations are also dedicated to supporting indigenous entrepreneurs, such as the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development and the Hawaiian Community Foundation. These organizations offer various resources and funding opportunities for Native American and Hawaiian communities. 

Tips on How to Strengthen Your Grant/Loan Application

Improve your chances of securing funding for your entrepreneurial project by following these tips to strengthen your grant or loan application.

First, be sure to thoroughly research the specific grant or loan program you’re applying for and tailor your application to its requirements. Highlight how your project aligns with the program’s goals and objectives.

Second, provide a clear and detailed business plan that outlines your project’s goals, strategies, and financial projections. Be sure to include any relevant market research or industry analysis.

Third, emphasize your qualifications and experience in the field, and provide references or testimonials from relevant parties.

Finally, be prepared to answer any questions or provide additional information if requested.

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of securing the funding needed to bring your entrepreneurial vision to life. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of businesses are small business grants typically awarded to?

Small business grants are typically awarded to existing businesses and are sometimes non-monetary. Grants are for specific types of businesses and often for very specific activities/purchases. Local state or city agencies primarily award grants.

What are some key points to remember when applying for grants or loans for a Native American-owned business?

When applying for grants or loans for your Native American-owned business, remember that it’s a competitive process with many applicants and few awards. Follow instructions carefully, highlight your passion, and consider utilizing resources like CDFIs or tribal programs.

Can non-native entrepreneurs apply for the Minnesota Indian Business Loan Program?

Yes, non-native entrepreneurs can apply for the Minnesota Indian Business Loan Program if they partner with a Native American business owner. This program provides funding for Native American-owned businesses and their partners.

How can small businesses utilize the resources provided by the Native American Business Development Institute?

Utilize the Native American Business Development Institute’s resources for business training, counseling, and technical assistance. They also offer access to financing programs and can connect you with other Native American entrepreneurs and organizations for networking and support. 


The resources we’ve covered in this article offer a great starting point to help fund your business dreams.

Remember, funding opportunities are available, but they require time and effort to secure. Be prepared to do your research, prepare a solid business plan, and put in the work to strengthen your grant or loan application.

It’s important to note that the Native American community is a vibrant and diverse group with unique cultures and traditions. When seeking funding opportunities, consider working with organizations that understand and respect the values of your community.

By doing so, you can ensure that your business is built on a foundation that aligns with your beliefs and values. With hard work and dedication, you can turn your small business dreams into a reality and contribute to the prosperity of your community. 

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!