By Kevin Robinson-Avila
Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As more Native American women enter professional fields and start businesses, many have found a craving for support. With that in mind, several tribal women entrepreneurs have launched a new Native Women Business Summit in Albuquerque.
As a female business owner and Cochiti Pueblo member, Phoebe Suina says she often craves the camaraderie of other tribal businesswomen to manage the challenges of entrepreneurship.
“As Native Americans and women, we often face a double whammy, given all of today’s issues about how women are treated in the workplace,” said Suina, an engineer and owner of the environmental consulting firm High Water Mark LLC. “There are few of us women in engineering, and especially native women, so I call on colleagues to discuss issues and bounce ideas off each other without being judged.”
As more Native American women enter professional fields and start businesses, Suina and others have found such craving for support pervasive among existing and aspiring tribal women entrepreneurs, which encouraged them to launch a new Native Women Business Summit in Albuquerque.
Suina and other summit founders held a planning conference last October attended by 75 people.
Now, they’re organizing a broader event for April, targeting about 200 participants, which they hope to turn into an annual summit for Native Americans in New Mexico and elsewhere.
“A lot of native women are taking the bull by the horns to start their own companies, but it’s difficult for many to break through the challenges and succeed,” Suina said.
Summit organizers originally banded together through New Mexico Community Capital, which offers Native American entrepreneurs assistance in launching and growing businesses. Five of the founders, including Suina, are graduates of NMCC’s Entrepreneur in Residence program, which functions as an incubator and accelerator for Native American businesses. About 61 percent of people in that program are women.