ONAC-NAYA partnership serves Native biz community

ONAC-NAYA partnership serves Native biz community

For Indigenous business owners and aspiring Native entrepreneurs in Portland, it often feels like there is a continuous stream of programs, resources, events, and networks to connect with to launch and run a successful business. This is no coincidence. It’s a direct result of an ongoing partnership between the Oregon Native American Chamber (ONAC)—a Portland non-profit that works to advance the education and economic opportunities for Native Americans in the local region—and NAYA.

In an effort to enhance the voice of the Native business community, NAYA and ONAC turned its longstanding history of collaborating into a formal partnership in 2019. With an overall goal to strengthen small business tools, resource, and growth opportunities for the Native community, the partnership is intended to enhance collaboration and maximize the services available to the Native community.

The agreement identified each organization’s strengths and identified the programs and responsibilities ONAC and NAYA will oversee, and where they will collaborate.

For example, NAYA has a successful history of providing one-on-one case management to individual clients, while ONAC excels at providing individualized technical assistance after conducting a needs assessment of new clients. ONAC provides the community with dynamic speakers’ series and invaluable networking opportunities, and NAYA offers courses like small business development and financial literacy.

Perhaps the most important example of how well ONAC and NAYA work together to support Native-owned businesses is the ONE curriculum. Used extensively in NAYA’s microenterprise programs, the culturally relevant model was created and championed by ONAC. NAYA Business Development Coordinator Amanda Stubits explains, “ONE is critical to our work at NAYA. I feel it is very important that we acknowledge the contribution ONAC makes to our work and in the work we do across organizations.”

In just a year-and-a-half since the partnership was formalized, ONAC and NAYA have delivered a streamlined, accessible, and effective continuum of services for Native entrepreneurs. In this year of economic hardship for small businesses, having an email inbox regularly filled with grant, workshop, skill-building, and networking opportunities that span across both organizations provides hope in an otherwise challenging year for business owners.