Champion for Change Reflects on 2016 NACA Emerging Native Leaders Summit

This post was written by Keith Martinez, Champion for Change and 2016 Summer Intern for the Center for Native American Youth. 


I was given the opportunity to attend NACA’s Emerging Native Leaders Summit this August. I heard of this summit from co-workers and through my current work as an intern at the Center for Native American Youth in Washington, DC. After I heard about the summit, I spent some time looking into the program and found it to be very interesting and informative. So when my co-worker Ryan reached out to me and asked if I was interested in participating, the answer was of course a ‘yes’.  Just like that, I was to spend three days at DC’s Watergate Hotel to attend sessions on various business-related topics.

During these three days we covered a wide range of topics all focused on how to start and grow a business in Indian Country.  We had a packed and busy agenda that had many different sessions. The sessions were led by professionals in the field of business who were all very knowledgeable and successful. We had sessions on start-up costs, markets, business plans, contracting, networking and pitching our own ideas. All these sessions proved very helpful in understanding how small business works, especially in Indian Country. I have thought about starting my own small business and this summit has definitely shown me how possible it is to do so. It has also shown me the hard work it will take.

Here are some of my biggest takeaways from this summit:

There are many options out there when it comes to starting a small business in Indian Country.

Extensive research is essential to starting a small business.

Knowing your market is your best bet to success.

Collaboration can prove beneficial.

I would recommend this summit to anyone interested in learning how they can become a leader in their community through business.

This summit is one of the most informative summits I have been to. Not only did we learn how to start our own small business through lectures – which were very helpful – but we were also able to apply what we learned to our business plan.

We each presented our business plan at the end of the summit. The pressure was on, despite being told to relax and have fun with it. Preparing our own business plan helped me to better understand what it takes to make an idea a reality. All in all, I would say this summit is truly preparing emerging leaders for the future in Indian Country.

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