A Conversation with Liz Gamboa of New Mexico Community Capital

New Mexico Community Capital offers a range of business services for tribes, Pueblos, and Native entrepreneurs. NMCC has long been a strong partner with the National Center and has been at RES for the last five years. This year, NMCC will present a course at RES called An Indigenous Entrepreneurial Model: Harnessing the Cloud to Grow Regenerative Economies.

We recently sat down with NMCC’s Managing Director Liz Gamboa to learn more about NMCC and how they assist entrepreneurs. We hope you meet Liz and the NMCC team at RES 2020!

Tell us a little bit about New Mexico Community Capital?

New Mexico Community Capital (NMCC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in Albuquerque, NM. Our organization offers a continuum of business services, all of which support a larger, regenerative ecosystem that is based on mentorship and guidance. We are an Indigenous-led organization.

NMCC has been in business for fifteen years and started our journey as a venture capital firm focused on social impact investments located in New Mexico. In 2013, we realized that we not only wanted to support our fund but also wanted to support Native businesses as an accelerator and incubator so kicked off the Native Entrepreneur in Residence (NEIR) program in 2014. Over the course of the past five years we’ve graduated 46 businesses from our program, resulting in 265 new jobs, 70% of those being Native hires. In addition, almost $14 million dollars in revenue has been generated by these business owners located in seven states from 27 different tribes and Pueblos.

We also run a program called Financial Business Basics (FBB) which supports those who want to understand more about financial literacy and digital cloud-based skills, and also want the building blocks for starting their own small business. This two-week immersive course takes place on Pueblos or tribes and has been incredibly successful. We’ll continue next year with FBB classes in Michigan, Santo Domingo Pueblo, Zuni Pueblo, and a course at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center focused on artists and makers.

In addition, we have a division focused on Growing Tribal Businesses, a consulting arm that supports the economic development mission of tribes and tribal economic development groups throughout the country.

Tell us a bit about the relationship between NCAIED and NMCC?

We’ve been attending RES for the past five years at both the national conference and at the more regional state level. We’ve been honored to lead several sessions over the past few years and did a breakout session at the conference last year called, The Path of the Native Entrepreneur.

As an organization that supports entrepreneurs and business development in Indian Country, it’s critical that we maintain a connection to NCAIED and participate in these events. There is power in the type of support we have under the NCAIED umbrella, and even more important that we keep up to date with the best business practices and business trends.

What aspect of NMCC gives you the most pride?

NMCC believes in the power of our continuum of services, which we call, “Root, Rise, and Thrive,” a system that builds on itself and supports a thriving, sustainable, and regenerative business ecosystem. This begins with teaching financial literacy and sharing the knowledge needed to open a small business through our FBB program. It continues with a six-month entrepreneurial journey with the NEIR program and a supportive community of peers with a Community of Practice, and a comprehensive look working with tribal governments and economic development groups with Growing Tribal Businesses, which supports the infrastructure of keeping Indian Country moving. Together we see these all working together for healthy systems and processes which can be replicated among many tribes and Pueblos.

Being able to manage and support all points on this journey for the Native entrepreneur gives us immense pride as we watch our participants blossom as they’re empowered by a toolkit that supports their mission and purpose whether it’s big or small.

Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Find a mentor! There are so many people that want to see you succeed. It’s hard to do it by yourself so find a champion (individual or organization) to support you and your journey. I’ve sent emails to people I didn’t know and didn’t think they’d respond, but they did and offered great advice. We have a list of entrepreneur resources on our site, nmccap.org.

In addition, I’d offer four additional tips for entrepreneurs:

· Be passionate and stay focused. This process will fuel you as you move forward. What is your vision for your business? Print it, or have it handy so everything you do supports this.

· Make or offer something people want. You may think you have the best idea in the world but if there’s no market for your product or services, your business is not going to go far.

· Keep refining your pitch. You’ll have hundreds of opportunities to present yourself and your business. Do you have 10 seconds or a few minutes to talk about your business? Have your pitch ready because you’ll never know who may be able to help.

· You’re walking your own path, not someone else’s path. We’ve seen all sizes of business come through the door. Yes, you need to generate income but there is not a “one size fits all” business model.

Tell us why you’re excited about attending RES next year and how NMCC will be helping other RES attendees.

We love the inspiration we feel after attending RES. In the past, we’ve returned to work with renewed purpose.

This year we’ll be presenting a course called: An Indigenous Entrepreneurial Model: Harnessing the Cloud to Grow Regenerative Economies. In the course, we’ll demonstrate the way we offer our courses using Indigenous methodologies. We’ve tailored the material in a way that speaks to aspiring Native business owners, with peer to peer mentorship and taught in a way that is interactive. There is so much potential in cloud-based technology. We’re a Grow with Google Partner and find there is a lot of power in creating resources online that can be shared with business partners, customers, and consultants. Google has made it pretty simple by including a huge library of trainings and templates and we’re excited to share our process with you and demonstrate how it can inspire others.

Anything else you want to add or share?

There is so much potential in our communities to use cloud-based technologies to build our nations and teach/reach our tribal membership. How do we inspire our people and move their visions to a business reality? Our mission is to give rise to a more equitable future by providing tools for success to emerging Native American companies, tribal enterprises, and individuals. With this skill set, we envision more regenerative and sustainable business models and more engaged people.

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