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Community Developments Investments (August 2013)


The OCC has organized useful resources for banks interested in exploring business opportunities in Indian Country. All of the resources are in the “Native American Banking Resource Directory” listed below, but we chose to highlight a couple of documents that are particularly interesting and two federal offices that work closely with small and rural businesses.

‘Native American Banking Resource Directory’

This OCC guide provides descriptions of and links to a sampling of organizations and programs that provide resources to banks interested in lending, investing, or providing retail financial services in Indian Country.

Guide to Tribal Ownership of a National Bank

A companion to the OCC’s licensing manuals, this guide is designed to help federally recognized Native American tribes explore entry into the national banking system by establishing or acquiring control of a national bank.

HUD Section 184 Program Fact Sheet

This publication from OCC Community Affairs describes the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program, a home mortgage federal loan guarantee for enrolled members of federally recognized tribes and tribally designated housing entities.

U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Native American Affairs

This office supports Native American entrepreneurs by making them aware of SBA resources, engaging them via numerous outreach activities, participating in tribal consultations, providing online and in-person training, and developing and distributing educational and promotional materials.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program

This program supports economic development in Indian Country through a variety of support channels, such as financial support for public facilities, loans to businesses, and technical assistance for farmers and rural communities.

Office of Native American Affairs
Chris James, Assistant Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration

The mission of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) is to ensure that American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians seeking to create, develop, and expand small businesses have full access to the business development and expansion tools available through the agency’s entrepreneurial development, lending, and procurement programs.

ONAA supports several national small business initiatives and offers general and specialized resources for Native American entrepreneurs and business owners. For example, the office participated in the SBA’s Emerging Leaders (formerly e200) Initiative, produced an online course, and organized a series of entrepreneurship workshops.

The Emerging Leaders Initiative is the only nationwide federal training initiative that specifically focuses on executives of established businesses poised for growth and provides these executives the organizational framework, resource network, and motivation required to build sustainable businesses of size and scale. Since 2010, the SBA has trained 234 Native American business executives from 12 locations across Indian Country. The seven-month training includes about 100 hours of classroom time per participant and provides small business owners with opportunities to work with mentors, attend workshops, and develop connections with peers, city leaders, and financial institutions. The initiative has been a catalyst for expanding opportunities for both urban small business owners and Native American communities. Sixty-seven percent of surveyed participants reported an increase in revenue, while 75 percent of those surveyed reported maintaining or creating new jobs in their communities. Surveyed participants also reported having secured more than $26 million in new financing for their businesses, as well as increased confidence when applying for government contracts. As a result, nearly half of the initiative graduates reported securing federal, state, or local contracts, together worth more than $330 million.

In 2012, ONAA launched the “Native American Small Business Primer,” a self-paced online course that highlights basic business principles and enhances awareness of SBA programs and services. More than 4,000 individuals have registered for this online training. In late 2013, the SBA will introduce a second series of online training geared toward American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs and their communities.

ONAA is also engaged in offering economic and business development resources through tribal colleges, building reservation-based entrepreneurial development, and providing a variety of online resources. Last year, for example, the office began the second phase of its “Native American Entrepreneurial Empowerment” workshop initiative. More than 160 participants received small business development training at eight events held in five states: Oklahoma, California, Texas, South Dakota, and Washington. Native American communities received nearly 150 hours of training and post-technical assistance, and these events created bridges that produced new partnerships and renewed older relationships. In 2013, ONAA is conducting an additional 23 workshops throughout the country, including in Alaska and Hawaii.

By using the SBA’s resources and network of entrepreneurial development partners, ONAA can help match Native business owners with expert advisers, counselors, and mentoring services. These resource partners can provide business owners with practical advice on matters related to management, financing, and marketing. ONAA can also identify local SBA lenders and refer customers to the nearest SBA District Office for assistance. For an immediate connection to SBA resources, potential and established business owners can visit

Native American small business ownership is on the rise. There are more than 240,000 Native American-owned businesses, generating annual revenues of more than $34.3 billion, a 28 percent increase in 10 years. Native Americans make significant contributions in many areas, such as construction, energy, and tourism, and to our economic health through business ownership and job creation. ONAA stands ready to help.

To learn more about ONAA, please visit

Community Developments Investments is produced by the OCC’s Community Affairs Department. Articles by non-OCC authors represent their own views and not necessarily the OCC’s.

USDA Rural Development

Tedd Buelow, Native American Coordinator, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development is deeply involved in building capacity, developing infrastructure, and improving the quality of life for American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States. Through our guaranteed loan, direct loan, and grant programs, we help build the credit readiness and creditworthiness of tribes and tribal businesses across the country.

Since 2009, Rural Development has made and facilitated more than $1.7 billion in investments directly benefiting American Indians and Alaska Natives. Rural Development’s Business and Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan Program can help lenders finance tribal and tribal member businesses, both on tribal trust land and off the reservation, in rural areas that have populations of 50,000 people or less. Since fiscal year 2001, Rural Development has guaranteed loans for American Indian and Alaska Native businesses through the B&I program totaling $196.5 million, with $51.9 million of those loan guarantees issued since fiscal year 2009.

We are proud that tribes and tribal members use programs such as the Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program and the Intermediary Relending Program to capitalize locally driven loan funds. Rural Development loans and grants provide needed capital for business development and entrepreneurial efforts that spur rural job creation.

We are also pleased to see tribes use Rural Development programs to help develop water, telecommunications, and electrical infrastructure that enables tribal communities to thrive in a sustainable and competitive manner. Additionally, since 2001 Rural Development’s housing programs have helped more than 14,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives buy or repair homes or obtain rental housing.

If you are interested in working with Rural Development for the first time, or if you are ready to return for additional business, we encourage you to contact us to learn how Rural Development’s programs can help your financial institution, your community, and local businesses.

For more information, please contact a local Rural Development office or visit

Community Developments Investments is produced by the OCC’s Community Affairs Department. Articles by non-OCC authors represent their own views and not necessarily the OCC’s.