Building an entrepreneurship ecosystem.
We developed a Theory of Change around eight core programs that are central to building the entrepreneurship ecosystem on the Navajo Nation. Change Labs works with Causal Design, an independent evaluation firm, to monitor our Theory of Change and track our progress. We also take every opportunity afforded to us to get input and ideas from Navajo entrepreneurs through social media, events, and special workshop and roundtable sessions.
About the Navajo Nation
According to the Small Business Administration, America’s small businesses – some 25 million strong – are the strength of the U.S. economy. They create between 60 and 80 percent of net new jobs, and are 13 to 14 times more innovative per employee as large firms are. 96.2% of employer firms in New Mexico, and 97.4% in Arizona, are small businesses. However, the growth of Navajo small businesses — 4% between 1997 and 2002 — is less than half the 10% growth rate for the U.S.
Reasons for stagnant growth of the small business sector on the Navajo Nation include the lack of infrastructure, limited small business financing, lack of support networks and mentors, and a history of exclusion from national and global economies. Furthermore, tribal governments tend to rally around large-scale corporate business opportunities such as casinos, coal mining, and major retail chains, instead of supporting small business development. As tribal leaders wrestle with the complex issues of future economic growth, they overlook the potential for small business entrepreneurs to drive a healthy economy.
As a result, the Navajo and Hopi nations continue to struggle economically, despite possessing resource-rich land and a viable workforce within its relatively young population of 180,500 (median age: 24 years old). However, with increased support and training for entrepreneurs and small businesses, the Navajo Nation can make steady improvements that will enable the healthier more diverse economies and prosperity of small communities.