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Native women host inaugural summit in New Mexico for entrepreneurs

The first ever Native Women’s Business Summit is taking place this weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

A networking event on Friday evening kicks off the inaugural summit, which will be held at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center on Saturday. Organizers hope to provide Native women entrepreneurs with the connections they need to build and expand their businesses.

"When Native American women can make our own connections, map our own pathway to grow more Native women entrepreneurs and provide a safe place, to be honest about what we need, then we can start creating the space it requires to change our chances for success," organizers said in a media advisory on Tuesday.

Featured speakers include Dr. Jessica Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), who is the owner of the Beyond Buckskin fashion boutique, and Nicolle Gonzales (Navajo), the founder of the Changing Women Initiative, a Native women's health collective. Natalia Oberti Noguera, the founder and CEO of Pipeline Angels, a network of women investors, also will be on hand to work one-on-one with Native business owners.

Tune into Native America Calling: Native business women gather strength

According to the most recent State of Women-Owned Businesses report, which was commissioned by American Express OPEN, Native women own 161,500 enterprises enterprises in the U.S. That represented a growth rate of a 201 percent over the last decade, the data shows.

Together, those businesses reported a whopping $11 billion in income last year, the report said. That represented an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent during the last decade.

"As of 2017, Native American/Alaska Natives owned 1.4% of all women-owned businesses (an estimated 161,500), employing 61,300 workers and generating $11 billion in revenues," the report stated.

More and more Native women are getting involved too. According to the data, Native women started an average of 15 businesses per day between 1997 and 2017.

The efforts help explain why Native women are usually the ones making the money in their homes. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, two-thirds of all Native women were the breadwinners in their families in 2014.

Yet when they work for others, Native women aren't compensated on the same level as men. According to the National Women's Law Center, Native women typically made only 57 cents to the dollar when compared to White, non-Hispanic men.

"That Native women make only 57 cents for every dollar a white man makes is abysmal, but for women in some tribes the disparity is even greater," the center said last September. "Pueblo and Blackfoot women make less than half of what white, non-Hispanic men make."

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