UNM Rainforest Innovations

The New Mexico Tribal Entrepreneurship Enhancement Program welcomed a new tribal liaison, Joseph Toledo.

Joseph is a part of the Jemez Pueblo and is an entrepreneur at heart. He is the Owner of Smash N Crispy Burgers, President of Native Harvest Events, Inc., and the Project Manager for Smart Tribe Technologies. Born and raised Redondo Beach, a coastal city in Los Angeles County, his family was relocated there by the Indian Relocation Act back in the 60s. He grew up visiting Jemez Pueblo to participate in cultural events and dances and was very active in football, wrestling, baseball, and track.

When Joseph was 25, he started his first business, a farmer’s market organization, with some colleagues. Taking the skills he learned from this experience, he later started his own company called Native Harvest Events, Inc., that specialized in organizing community events and farmers markets. After participating to the community event scene for about eight years, he began to develop a keen insight into what types of foods thrived at markets and which foods did not. This informed his decision to start a new company called Smash N Crispy Burgers. He took the business to Albuquerque, popping up at different breweries and community event and eventually developed a community following. He saw a lot of success with the businesses, however, he still felt that there was more he could offer. This led him to starting another business, Smart Tribe 275.

“One of my passions has always been to unite my culture with opportunities to bring prosperity to our Pueblo of Jemez. This is when the idea of Smart Tribe technologies came about. Smart Tribe technologies is a Native American owned electronic manufacturing company that will be based in Jemez Springs, NM. Our Mission is to augment education and economic development efforts for the Native American workforce by bringing back out-of-country electronics manufacturing for U.S. defense programs improving U.S. National Security. It has been a lot of work, but we are finally almost to the final phase and are planning to be operational this year.”

What interested you in the tribal liaison position and what do you hope to accomplish?

What interested me most about the tribal liaison position was the opportunity to show native entrepreneurs that they can be a legit business. That they can succeed outside the reservation. I have helped many businesses with my farmers market organization get up and running from scratch. I have helped them get their LLC, business license, health permits, etc. I feel like I am able to do that with my own people now and it is very rewarding to me.

Do you have any personal achievements or contribu5ons you are most proud of?

I would say starting farmers markets in the lower income areas of Los Angeles was a proud moment. To be able to provide the lower income neighborhoods with a nice farmers market and healthy food options was a big thing. Most farmers market organizations did not want to even try a market in these areas. It ended up being a huge hit, even the Mayor of LA came out.

What would you say to an aspiring entrepreneur or small business owner just getting started?

I know it’s scary when you first start out because there’s no instruction manual on running your own business and things are going to get hard, but the feeling of accomplishment and success will overcome that. You’re going to have to learn how to pivot on the spot. Sometimes you may have to change your business plan. Sometimes you may have to do things that weren’t in your original idea. But the strongest entrepreneurs are the ones that know how to change and pivot when things get tough, and their business is not working out. You have to keep an open mind and never stop learning from people.

If you would like to connect with Joseph, send him an email at: jtoledo@smarttribe275.com

About the NMTEEP Program:

UNM Rainforest Innovations was awarded an EDA American Rescue Plan Economic Adjustment Assistance grant to help break down barriers and generate opportunity through entrepreneurship in historically underserved communities in New Mexico. Through this grant, the Tribal Entrepreneurship Enhancement Program aims to create new jobs, produce higher incomes, and spur inclusive growth through entrepreneurship by linking resources and assisting entrepreneurs in filling voids. The Tribal Liaisons are an important component of the program, and they work to connect with entrepreneurs to serve as navigators, dedicated mentors, and connection points. Learn more about the program here: https://innovations.unm.edu/program-activities/tribal-entrepreneurship/

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