A tool for understanding all the factors that one must consider when starting a new business


The original “Doing Business” methodology was piloted by the World Bank, who completes a similar analysis in 190 countries across the world each year. The report measures all the aspects of a business environment and breaks down which regulations and policies support business growth, and which constrain it. It is used by policy makers around the world to guide how they can create more economic opportunities in their communities. We are adapting this type of analysis to understand the business environment facing native entrepreneurs while also capturing the unique context of doing business on the Navajo Nation.

The work we propose is an adaptation of the World Bank’s Doing Business Report. To learn more about the original methodology, please visit:

Why Doing Business?

The first goal of this analysis is to help Change Labs better serve the 70 entrepreneurs who have reached out for startup assistance since 2016. By understanding which parts of starting a business are most difficult, we can create programs and assistance that better support the Native-owned businesses we serve.

The second goal is to provide a data driven method to determine which business support agencies need additional resources so tribal officials can adequately support entrepreneurship within Navajo communities.

Doing Business and the Navajo Nation

We want Doing Business to be a community-wide effort. Change Labs is an Native-led organization created to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem on the Navajo Nation. We achieve this by affecting societal norms on how Native populations perceive entrepreneurship, building a network of peer and mentorship support, developing leadership capacity of Navajo-owned businesses, and growing the community of entrepreneurs on Navajo Nation. To build our capacity for data collection and analysis, we have partnered with Causal Design, an independent evaluation firm that has worked with us since 2016 to develop and improve our ability to understand how our work affects the community around it. Together, Change Labs and Causal Design are developing an Ease of Doing Business Analysis, aimed at gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the business environment facing Native entrepreneurs within Navajo Nation. We want to better understand what it means to do business on the Navajo Nation.


Our shared goal: to strengthen and empower Native American business owners across the Navajo Nation.



Doing Business: A Summary


Doing Business is a tool for understanding all the factors that someone must consider when starting a new business. Specifically, we will look at:

  • Registering a business or nonprofit with the Navajo Nation

  • Obtaining a business site lease

  • Dealing with construction permits

  • Getting electricity

  • Getting credit

  • Enforcing contracts

  • Paying taxes


The project will be conducted in two main hubs of economic activity on Navajo Nation and in the tribal capital. Here are the places we will be working:

  • Shiprock, NM

  • Tuba City, AZ

  • Window Rock, AZ


Over the coming months, Change Labs and Causal Design will interview agencies that support Native American business owners. Here are some of the offices we will be working with:

  • Local RBDOs

  • Division of Community Development

  • Navajo Tribal Utility Authority

  • Navajo Courts

  • Navajo Nation Bar Association

  • Navajo Nation, Office of the Controller, Credit Services Department

  • Office of the Navajo Tax Commission




Do you have an insight that will add to our analysis? Let us know!

Send us your info and we’ll reach out to involve you in Doing Business.

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