Native American Entrepreneurs in North Dakota

This report is an analysis of themes that emerged from interviews with 21 Native American entrepreneurs who live on North Dakota Indian reservations. The purpose of the study was to determine factors associated with entrepreneurial success on these reservations. A review of the data led to the following highlights: Most of the entrepreneurs credited their parents with having the greatest amount of influence on them, their values, and their entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial qualities they learned from their parents included (1) how to work and the value of work, (2) the value of money, (3 self-esteem, and (4) parental involvement in training. The enterprises started by the entrepreneurs were, for the most part, "family businesses," which supported their families and used their families' labor. Ninety percent of the entrepreneurs completed high school, and over 75 percent of them had post-high school education. Vocational training programs were particularly important to them. Practical, work-related skills and business-related course work were seen as most relevant to their entrepreneurship. From previous employment, they learned human relations skills, responsibility, and job-related skills that were useful in creating their own businesses. Reasons for beginning an enterprise included (1) personal interest or potential for profit, (2) encouragement from friends and family, (3) previous work experience, (4) a desire to "be one's own boss," and (5) a desire to help other Native American people. The entrepreneurs defined success in several ways: (1) sufficient income, (2) a sense of independence, freedom, and control, (3) ability to expand or improve their business, (4) happiness, and (5) making a contribution to the community, particularly the Native American community. Factors associated with entrepreneurial success included (1) good customer relations, (2) good employee relations, (3) quality products, (4) experience in business, (5) hard work and commitment, and (6) family and community support. Special talents successful Native American entrepreneurs claimed were (1) knowledge, experience, and managerial skills, (2) hard work, (3) aggressive business attitudes, and (4) human relations skills. One-half of the Native American entrepreneurs financed their enterprises from their own assets. Others relied on commercial loans or Small Business Administration or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) loans. Technical assistance was provided by family, the tribe, wholesalers, and various professionals and public agencies. Difficulties faced by Native American Entrepreneurs were (1) receipt of credit, (2) lack of support from the community, (3) issues pertaining to business management, and (4) issues pertaining to reservation culture. Benefits available to the entrepreneurs included (1) BIA loans, (2) respect from other Native American people, and (3) business contacts.


Issue Date:
1991-10
Publication Type:
Report
PURL Identifier:
http://purl.umn.edu/51201
Total Pages:
41
Series Statement:
Agricultural Economics Miscellaneous Report
158




 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-04-04

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