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A Home for Our Multi-Faceted Matriarchs: The Native Women’s Business Summit

As indicated by Native Women Lead (the brilliant founders of the NWBS) and derived from 2017 American Express State of Women Owned Businesses Report, 1.4% of all businesses owned by women were comprised of American Indian/Alaskan Natives.

In April of this year I had the immense honor of attending the 2ndAnnual Native Women’s Business Summit (NWBS) as both an attendee and a panel moderator. And although it has been two months since the event occurred, and a year since its inauguration, I’m still feeling its enriching effects.

Community. Healing. Growth.

Acceptance surrounding our ultimate matrilineal truths, our Creator enlivened intentions, and most importantly, our unending potential cohesively as Native womxn and Native womxn entrepreneurs. 

As indicated by Native Women Lead (the brilliant founders of the NWBS) and derived from 2017 American Express State of Women Owned Businesses Report, 1.4% of all businesses owned by women were comprised of American Indian/Alaskan Natives.

That statistic alone is worthy of being a catalyst for furthering the endeavors of Native womxn entrepreneurs, but future co-founders of Native Women Lead would experience the additional rigors of navigating the business realm while attempting to garner interest from other demographics of womxn. 

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Vernelle Chase, Phoebe Suina, Brandi Douglas and Shyla Sheppard, participants of the “Smashing the Patriarchy, While Building Social Capital.”

After a whole-hearted attempt at both highlighting and cultivating discussions with attendees of the 2017 Women Economic Forum with a panel discussion on “Developing Space for Positive Native Women Mentorship,” one thing was certain, the interest by others outside of the Native womxn population wasn’t there.

When the time came for a discussion to ensue, the room was empty sans the panelist themselves.

Rather than perceive the lack of attendance as a shortcoming, those present took it as an opportunity to formulate a greater plan – create a safe space for Native womxn entrepreneurs and entrepreneur hopefuls to gather, commune, network and learn. 

…those present took it as an opportunity to formulate a greater plan – create a safe space for Native womxn entrepreneurs and entrepreneur hopefuls to gather, commune, network and learn. 

Five months after the Women Economic Forum, Native Women Lead hosted their kickoff event, titled Elevate, which sold out, drew over 70 attendees and additionally provided the impetus for the inaugural 2018 Native Women’s Business Summit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

The inaugural Summit quickly sold out. 

With workshops spanning from marketing to managing finances, accessing capital to perfecting pitches, the opportunity to foster entrepreneurial pursuits was abundant. On-site childcare was additionally provided, honoring the time immemorial position of Native womxn as multi-faceted matriarchs.  

To accommodate the immense show of support and interest, the 2019 NWBS found itself in a larger venue, coveting more speakers, vendor space, networking opportunities and safe place for an ever-growing community of Native womxn. One can only imagine what the 2020 Native Women’s Business Summit will provide for Native womxn business owners, who have finally been able to claim their rightful place on the entrepreneurial landscape.

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