Native American Approaches to Social Entrepreneurship

Native American Approaches to Social Entrepreneurship

Charles Harrington (University of South Carolina Upstate, USA) and Gavin S. Clarkson (New Mexico State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4972-7.ch003

Abstract

Few groups face more significant, complex, and difficult economic and social problems than those confronted by American Indians. Economic impoverishment, unemployment, exploitation of natural resources, a failing educational system, insufficient housing, inadequate healthcare, and loss of cultural identity all threaten the wellbeing of native communities. Social entrepreneurship has proven an effective avenue for the pursuit of tribal economic development, sustained economic independence, and sovereignty of Native American people. Native American social entrepreneurs have specific and unique characteristics which impact business decision making, strategy, and enterprise growth. American Indian entrepreneurs can leverage knowledge of their distinct history, institutions, indigenous culture, and local economic resources in order to add value to their social entrepreneurial ventures.
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Introduction

Indian nations and peoples have supported, engaged in, and enriched themselves with entrepreneurial private and family oriented economic activities throughout history. They have always fostered, encouraged, and supported tribal people in their private economic endeavors, protected their private property rights, and allowed individual Indians to pursue their own ways.

Entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial endeavors have proven to be effective avenues for the pursuit of tribal economic development, sustained economic independence, and sovereignty of Native American people. Despite significant gains in entrepreneurship, there remain significant challenges facing Native American entrepreneurs, including lack of access to capital, insufficient business development support, and bureaucratic entanglements within tribal, state, and federal government agencies. Often, the lack of supportive infrastructure hampers new business development. A mixed strategy of traditional economy, individual market enterprise and tribal government managed corporations can coexist and provide multiple strategies and tools for moving toward sustained economic sovereignty in ways that are informed by indigenous values, culture, and interests. Native American entrepreneurs have specific and unique characteristics which impact business decision-making, strategy, and enterprise growth. American Indian entrepreneurs can leverage knowledge of their distinct history, institutions, indigenous culture and local economic resources in order to add value to their entrepreneurial ventures.

Despite significant gains in entrepreneurship, there remain significant challenges facing Native entrepreneurs, including lack of access to capital, insufficient business development support, and bureaucratic entanglements within tribal, state, and federal government agencies. Often, the lack of supportive infrastructure hampers new business development.

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