Native Women Taking the Lead in Wake of COVID-19

Pictured, from left, are Native Women Lead co-founders Alicia Ortega, Jaime Gloshay, Jaclyn Roessel, Stephine Poston, Vanessa Roanhorse, and Kim Gleason. (Courtesy Native Women Lead)

Native women entrepreneurs will have increased access to capital and other business tools

Native Women Lead (NWL), an organization committed to inspiring innovation and investing in Indigenous women entrepreneurs, has announced a suite of opportunities for Native women including online Transformational Thursday Retreats, a Matriarch Response Loan Fund — a 0% interest character-based loan, and the Matriarch Up Together grant fund.

Since 2017, NWL has convened more than 600 Native women entrepreneurs in an effort to close the racial wealth gap by inspiring thoughtful business practices that honor family, community, and culture. NWL is dedicated to responding to the needs of the network it serves. To that end, NWL and partner organizations launched a COVID-19 survey in March of 2020. More than 100 entrepreneurs representing over 50 Tribal nations and a wide array of sectors such as food, service, consulting, and creative economies responded.

In unison with these new initiatives, NWL launched an updated logo that is reflective of a new emergence. (Courtesy Native Women Lead)

The survey showed a majority of entrepreneurs were disrupted by 80-100% due to COVID-19; 71% said their business was their sole source of income, and a majority (66%) identified as women. These entrepreneurs identified their immediate needs and concerns are ensuring they have access to food, shelter (home and/or business), utilities, and a plan to pivot their businesses. They also expressed the need for resources focused on funding, technical assistance, marketing, and crisis management. As the primary economic stabilizers both in their families and communities, it cannot be understated that Native women entrepreneurs are one of the most vulnerable and impactful both living on and off Tribal lands. 

On May 14, 2020, NWL will kick off its first of six complimentary Transformational Thursday Retreats with First Nations leaders, Jenn Harper, CEO of Cheekbone Beauty, and Jace Meyer, Shopify’s Lead for Indigenous Entrepreneurs.

For more information about Transformational Thursday Retreats and other initiatives, visit