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Enabling Changemakers On Tribal Lands

Client/Funder: NEA
Location: USA
Catapult Service Line: Design
Thematic Area: Entrepreneurship


Catapult Design initiated work on the Navajo Nation in 2014 and received overwhelming input and insight into the challenges facing entrepreneurs and small business owners on tribal lands. We began designing new programs to tackle some of the challenges, one of them being access to capital to support new ideas as well as a peer network to provide support through the startup journey. We conceived of an “Innovation Challenge” to identify, support, and highlight Native Americans with financially-sustainable ideas to benefit their communities.


Catapult teamed up with the Native American Business Incubator Network (NABIN) to launch the Innovation Challenge, open to Native Americans with ideas that benefit Southwestern tribal communities. The challenge winners receive access to capital, one year of business incubation support, one year of mentorship and business counseling, and the opportunity to receive additional funding based on milestone achievement. We designed the program to continue to build a community of entrepreneurs, to document and observe the unique challenges Native American entrepreneurs face in the first year of startup, as well as enable successful role models for Native American social entrepreneurship.


We launched the Innovation Challenge on January 17, 2017, and plan to select four winners in June 2017 to receive the cash prize and incubation support. Catapult will continue to follow the journey of the four winners as they begin their journey to make change. As we support and learn from the winners, we will design enhance existing and new programs to alleviate or remove the barriers facing Native American changemakers.