American Indian Business Enterprise to Jumpstart Small Businesses in Native Communities Across New Mexico

Native entrepreneurs in New Mexico with strong business ideas and plans will now have greater access to resources, technology and training to build their dream business. 

Powered by a $260,000 grant from the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency, the Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University (NMSU), in collaboration with Navajo Technical University, is establishing the American Indian Business Enterprise (AIBE) project for young Native entrepreneurs statewide. 

AIBE expands on the success of NMSU’s existing business accelerator, Studio G at the Arrowhead Center, which recently received international recognition. Studio G was ranked by UBI Global — a Swedish-based intelligence company and community specializing in mapping, highlighting and connecting the world of business incubation — as a world top 20 university business incubator.

AIBE’s business accelerator center will hone in on capacity-building skills through an inclusive and culturally relevant lens. AIBE’s process specifically honors Native heritage crafts while pairing startups with the technology they need to jumpstart small businesses in Tribal communities.

“With this grant, the Native tradition of building businesses based on our culture and the needs of our families will be supported with technology and training that help develop successful businesses,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus. 

AIBE courses will incorporate vital hands-on training. Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico), who is among the members of a New Mexico congressional delegation that announced support for the funding, underscored how the technological training levels the playing field for Native entrepreneurs. 

“I have witnessed Arrowhead’s ability to successfully link students to technology and the tools needed for commercialization at NMSU,” Heinrich said. “This well-deserved funding will allow NMSU to continue its enterprise development programs while also allowing for collaboration with Navajo Technical University in an effort to reach more students throughout New Mexico. As a proud supporter of our Tribal communities, I will continue to fight for our state’s higher education systems and look for ways to empower Native students to become the next generation of business leaders.”

Leveraging a network of business experts, AIBE will offer training online and via in-person classes, in addition to providing workspaces for start-up businesses.

Future New Mexico State University Aggies from the Santo Domingo Pueblo pose with representatives from the NMSU Indian Resources Development program and NMSU’s American Indian Program. (NMSU courtesy photo)

“These grants affirm MBDA’s long-standing commitment to economic development in Indian Country,” said Henry Childs II, MBDA National Director. “There are many examples of economic success in Indian Country. This includes areas such as energy, tourism, and gaming. Indigenous communities are a vital part of regional economies but are often disconnected from efforts to promote regional and rural development.”

Childs added, “This disconnect contributes to disparities in socio-economic outcomes experienced in Indian Country. MBDA’s investments will help link Indigenous communities with regional and rural development efforts.”

Xochitl Torres Small (D-New Mexico), additionally voiced support: “The Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University and Navajo Technical University empowers young Native student entrepreneurs as they pioneer new technologies, innovations, and collaborations to solve local problems. This grant funding will uplift students and businesses, ensuring they have the tools they need to grow our local economy. I’m committed to expanding opportunity for the Tribes and Pueblos I represent.”

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