Harvard University collaborates with Native Women Lead to build mentorship initiative

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Tailored program to be developed specific to Native American women-owned businesses.

News Release

Native Women Lead

Native Women Lead (NWL) has joined forces with Harvard University’s Native American Program (HUNAP) to help develop a tailored mentorship/leadership program specific to Native American women-owned businesses.

Native Women Lead first came together in October 2017 to address the unique challenges of Native women entrepreneurs. Since then they have hosted and curated a Native Women’s Business Summit with 200 plus attendees along with releasing an event report. Currently, the organization is planning the Second Annual Native Women’s Business summit for 300 attendees April 5-6, 2019 at Isleta Resort.

Native people have been fighting erasure for hundreds of years. Erasure dynamics lead to a host of other challenges that have been toxic for our tribal communities for many decades and can spill into business settings. “Native Women Lead seeks to inspire Native women entrepreneurs by providing resources and tools to help entrepreneurs navigate the complexities of owning a business and defying the odds,” Vanessa Roanhorse, Co-Founder of Native Women Lead.

The feedback from Native Women Lead’s smaller convenings and the inaugural summit amplified woman-owned businesses struggle because they feel isolated with nowhere to turn when challenges arise and often feel like they don’t align with the typical “corporate” structures and institutions. Developing a mentorship program specific to Native Women entrepreneurs built by people who are from the community will be a game changer and really set the table for success. You add the collaboration with Harvard, a world-class university renown for producing astute business owners this initiative will be like none other,” added Roanhorse.

Heather Watts_HUNAP
Pictured: Heather Watts, Mohawk and Ojibwe, from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Canada(Photo: Native Women Lead)
Dan Heinrich Cariño Manuyag_HUNAP
Pictured: Dan Heinrich Cariño Manuyag from Honolulu, Hawai`i(Photo: Native Women Lead)

The two Harvard Masters students who will support this effort are Heather Watts (Mohawk and Ojibwe from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Canada) and Dan Heinrich Cariño Manuyag from Honolulu, Hawai`i. Both are a part of The Native Americans in the 21st Century: Nation Building II course at the Harvard University Native American Program that addresses current issues facing Native and Indigenous nations or organizations. In addition to researching and informing the Native Women Lead mentorship program, they will be supporting the Second Annual Native Women’s Business Summit.

About Native Women’s Summit

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. 

Our core values (BEWE) reflect our understanding that Native women are the Backbone of our communities, we are Emerging as entrepreneurs, and we are Weaving our ideas, resources, and community to manifest change while Empowering one another. 

To learn more visit www.nativewomenlead.org.


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