Chief Burgers: Tribes Need to Support Original Concepts

Thomas Begay (Navajo, Hopi) graduated from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 2016 with degrees in management and marketing. Immediately after graduation, he struggled to land a job—so he looked to entrepreneurship. He took his detailed, 80-page business plan for a food truck business and began scouring for funding sources. He turned to the Navajo Nation, his local Veteran’s Affairs office, organizations near Window Rock, and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Yet his applications for business loans were denied. Ultimately, he needed to self-fund. 

Grinding it out in the restaurant industry, Begay and his wife Kendra Begay (Navajo, Hopi) saved $15,000 to purchase an old FedEx truck to house Chief Burgers, their gourmet burger and picadilly business on wheels, based in Window Rock, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation reservation.

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