Project Dream Catcher Elevates Female Native Entrepreneurs
October 20, 2023
Gila River Indian News
On the morning of Oct. 13, the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University held their Project Dream Catcher graduation. The Freeport-McMoran Foundation created Project Dream Catcher in partnership with the Thunderbird School of Global Management to build the capacity of women business owners from Arizona tribes.
Vonda Martinez, from District 6, was one of 23 graduates representing the Gila River Indian Community. Martinez graduated from the project with more knowledge of running her two businesses. A Community food pantry, found in District 6, and a chair/table and inflatable jumper/bounce house rental company named “Last Call Rentals.”
Martinez’s entrepreneurial aspirations began when she noticed the Community would reach out to outside resources for chairs, tables, and inflatable jumpers/bounce house rentals. She thought to herself, “I might as well do one, and have it native-owned within our Community,” she said. Such a service could help the Community by using resources from within she furthered.
“For the pantry, I saw a need,” said Martinez. She created the venture with an aspiration to assist elders and individuals with limited income, little to no transportation, or access to stores. “The pantry is open 24/7,” said Martinez.
Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis also supported Martinez for her hard work and dedication to the Dream Catcher Program. “She is a leading entrepreneur now, coming back to the Community after going through this program. She is definitely going to be a powerful and tremendous asset in building our economy back home.”
Martinez said she was happy she went through the program because it helped her learn more in-depth skills on how to run her business as a running machine versus just attempting to run it as it goes. “If you see a passion in doing something that you want to do as a business, do it and also come here and you’ll get more out of it,” she said.
Lastly, she mentioned to “rent from us for all your chair and inflatable jumper needs.”