UNM Rainforest Innovations

On October 5, the UNM Rainforest Innovations Tribal Entrepreneurship Enhancement Program hosted the first, of what is hoped to be many, Entrepreneur and Community Engagement events. The event was co-hosted with the Santa Clara Library and Intergovernmental Department as an effort to bring together current and aspiring entrepreneurs at Santa Clara Pueblo. The goal of these events is to create and nurture an environment and local “entrepreneurial ecosystem” for tribal entrepreneurs where they can feel supported and connected to the right resources available to them in New Mexico’s greater entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The Santa Clara Small Business Start-up Day was a two-hour event, hosted at the Santa Clara Senior Center with roughly 20 tribal members in attendance ranging in age and experience. Two representatives from the NMEDD JEDI Office were also in attendance. During the event, attendees heard from tribal liaison and leadership coach, Scott Tafoya, who told his story and personal journey as a fellow Santa Clara Pueblo member and entrepreneur. Attendees also heard from a local resource provider, Julianna Martinez-Barbee, who is the Director at the Small Business Development Center at Northern New Mexico College located just a few miles from Santa Clara Pueblo. Julianna’s presentation included words of inspiration, an overview on how the local SBDC can be of assistance, and an impromptu testimony from San Ildefonso entrepreneur and owner of Avanyu LLC, Liana Sanchez, on her journey starting her construction and contracting company. Cupcakes and brownies were also provided by Charles Suazo III who is a young 22-year-old pastry chef at The Compound in Santa Fe, who would like to open his own bakery and business someday.

Out of the people in attendance, there was a great energy and momentum that filled the room as the event was concluded. Participants expressed desires to pursue different business ideas such as opening a bakery, graphic design & clothing company, commission art projects, authoring books, etc. The room filled with hope for what might be possible and gratitude for the opportunity to become aware and connected to the various programs and resources available to turn those dreams and ideas into a reality.

With the momentum gained from this kick-off event, UNMRI, Santa Clara Library and Intergovernmental plan to host follow-up events as part of a series to continue to engage with the local Santa Clara Pueblo entrepreneurs and nurture the budding ecosystem. The partners hope to host a few more events and provide education on the following topics: franchising, copyright/trademarks, and taxes at Santa Clara Pueblo. The event and collaboration was a success and marks the beginning of on-going efforts to promote and support tribal entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ecosystems amongst various tribes throughout the state of New Mexico.

If you would like to learn more or engage with the UNMRI Tribal Entrepreneurship Enhancement Program, please contact cpacheco@innovations.unm.edu

Check out our Indigenous Entrepreneurs Podcast to hear stories of Indigenous entrepreneurs in New Mexico: https://open.spotify.com/show/1aeQSiq8jTUKhZxVSHxxsX

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