To revolutionize systems and inspire innovation by investing in Native Women in business. We do this by co-creating with and convening our community to build coalition while honoring our culture, creativity, and connections.
In May of 2017, the Women’s Economic Forum, a global movement to elevate women in economic empowerment & leadership, hosted one of their multi-city events in Albuquerque, NM. A group of Native American Business women created a panel discussion on “Developing the Space for Positive Native Women Mentorship”. The event resulted in zero attendance from the other attendees and instead only the Native Women panelists participated. What started as a disappointing lack of interest to share our unique perspectives with others was instead a transformational opportunity to talk honestly with our peers on what it means to be a leader in business, community, family and position and the obstacles we face as American Indian and Alaskan Native women.
This discussion was the impetus to launch a networking and learning summit focused on creating a safe and inclusive event for Native women entrepreneurs and future Native women entrepreneurs, the Native Women’s Business Summit (NWBS). We knew we wanted this to be co-created from our community and decided we would use a World Cafe design to engage our community framing the conversation around our core values.
In October of 2017, we hosted a kickoff event, titled ELEVATE, to announce our plan to host a Summit in 2018, and to determine topics and interests in our community. With no budget but the donated support from the co-founders, Accion and NM Community Capital, the kickoff was sold out. As a result, 70+ Native American, Alaskan Native, and First Nations women attended representing over 25 Tribes from across North America. 100% of speakers were Native American Women, 100% attendees confirmed a desire for a Native Women only summit, and 100% wanted to know more Native American Women for contacts, partnerships, contracts, and hiring opportunities. Lastly, 79% cited childcare and transportation as barriers to attendance.
What we learned shaped the intention and programming for the 2018 Summit. We wanted to make sure to continue to be inclusive, safe, and reflective of the communities we serve. The inaugural event resulted in over 200 Native Women attending, participating in a conference like no other, and more opportunities to increase our reach and impact. Please review our 2018 Event Report to learn more about the Summit and what happens next with Native Women Lead!