Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Nopalito Network

What is the name of your solution?

Weaving Tradition With Technology

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Engaging Indigenous entrepreneurs by weaving tradition with technology, providing essential digital skills for community-focused business success.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Tucson, Arizona, USA

In what country is your solution team headquartered?

  • United States

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

What specific problem are you solving?

The digital divide casts a long shadow over Indigenous communities. At five major U.S.-based technology companies, Indigenous tech professionals occupy less than 4% of technical roles, with two of these companies reporting a decline in Indigenous representation since 2018.  Without culturally relevant resources and training, these communities are sidelined in the fast-paced digital economy. This glaring difference not only deepens social and economic divides but also hinders the potential of Indigenous entrepreneurs, holding back the growth of sustainable businesses that could thrive with just a bit more support. This isn't just a challenge; it's a call to action to empower, to include, and to innovate.

Indigenous entrepreneurs, who could harness the internet and digital tools to market products, manage operations, and engage with customers, often find themselves unable to compete with more digitally equipped businesses. This not only stunts the economic growth of individuals and tribal communities but also risks the loss of cultural knowledge that could live on within new digital expressions.

If we don't tackle the digital divide head-on, the consequences are grim. Without action, this gap will only widen, deepening economic disparities and leaving Indigenous communities even more sidelined. This growing divide traps our communities in a cycle of poverty and hurts their socio-economic progress, keeping the benefits of digital technologies just out of reach.

This reality fuels a mix of frustration and urgency. We are passionately eager to claim a rightful space in the digital world and ensure that our cultural knowledge is both celebrated and safeguarded.

Problem Statement:

The problem that we are trying to solve is: the insufficient access to digital technology and skills among Indigenous entrepreneurs, which prevents them from fully participating in the global digital economy.

Why is that a problem?

Continued economic inequality and cultural isolation not only compromises the prosperity and well-being of Indigenous communities but also robs the global community of the diverse cultural contributions and innovations that Indigenous people can provide with a more connected and digitally empowered presence.

What is your solution?

Nopalito Network is an organization designed to equip Indigenous entrepreneurs with the digital skills necessary for thriving in today's economy. We are integrating hands-on training in website development, digital marketing, and effective use of digital tools by blending Indigenous knowledge with modern business practices.

Our pilot program this summer, with 8-12 participants, will engage in a four-week course that provides them with the tools to build their own websites using user-friendly, no-code platforms like WordPress. They will also learn to navigate digital marketing landscapes, utilizing strategies in social media marketing and SEO to boost their online presence. Our approach includes practical, interactive workshops led by experts who are not only tech-savvy but also culturally sensitive in their teaching methods. This ensures that learning is both effective and respectful.

The technologies we will be using include no-code website builders, digital marketing tools like Google Analytics, and essential software for collaboration and learning management such as Slack and Figma/FigJam. These technologies are chosen for their ease of use, interactiveness, and effectiveness in facilitating communication among participants.

Through Nopalito Network, Indigenous entrepreneurs gain not just skills but also the confidence to apply these tools in ways that enhance their businesses and promote their cultural identity online. This solution paves the way for sustainable growth and a vibrant future, where technology serves as a bridge rather than a barrier, connecting traditional knowledge with global opportunities.

Which Indigenous community(s) does your solution benefit? In what ways will your solution benefit this community?

On the Pascua Yaqui Tribe reservation, over half (51%) of the working community holds positions within the tribal government, and a significant portion (42%) finds employment in private sector roles, mainly in the gaming industry. Yet, a relatively small fraction (combined 2.2%) of the population is exploring the avenues of entrepreneurship through self-employment, whether in formal business structures or more informal ventures.

We're collaborating with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe's Economic Development team and two University of Arizona powerhouses: Native FORGE and The Office of Native American Advancement and Tribal Engagement (NAATE). By tapping into the tribe's economic data, we're gaining a deeper understanding of the community's wants, needs, and priorities. Plus, we're teaming up with Indigenous campus clubs eager to offer their time, ensuring every participant gets the support they need to shine in our classes.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Leading Nopalito Network, I stand with the community I am dedicated to uplifting. We navigate the unique challenges of entrepreneurship alongside them, because we are part of this journey too. As a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe this connection isn’t just about understanding; it’s about shared experiences and active empathy.

Our program continues this vision by bringing in experts, students, volunteers from other tribes who can contribute their wisdom and/or support, ensuring our solutions resonate deeply with the community.

Community over competition. 

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Advance community-driven digital sovereignty initiatives in Indigenous communities, including the ethical use of AI, machine learning, and data technologies.

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 4. Quality Education
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 10. Reduced Inequalities

What is your solution’s stage of development?


Please share details about why you selected the stage above.

The concept of the Nopalito Network is currently in the prototype stage because we are in the initial phases of refining our digital education modules and support systems. So far, we've constructed a preliminary version of our training curriculum that integrates core aspects of no-code website development, digital marketing, and the effective use of digital tools for business enhancement. 

We are currently refining the curriculum to better tailor it to the unique needs and learning preferences of our target audience. We're excited to have gained support from key stakeholders, including the Pascua Yaqui Tribe's economic development department and the University of Arizona.

Why are you applying to Solve?

As we strive to scale Nopalito Network, we foresee challenges across financial, technical, legal, cultural, and market industries. But we are currently focused and seeking guidance with the following: 

Legal Obstacles include: Legal aid processing for copyrights, trademarks, and contract drafting.

Technical Barriers: Connections with technical experts and advisors who can provide guidance on optimizing our digital education platform and tools to meet the needs of a growing user base.

Indigenous Innovators: Connections with cultural and community leaders, providing valuable insights into culturally sensitive entrepreneurship training approaches for different tribes when we explore partnerships with other Indigenous communities.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business Model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development)
  • Legal or Regulatory Matters
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. delivery, logistics, expanding client base)
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Nicolette Gomez

Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your Team Lead.

Pascua Yaqui Tribe

How is your Team Lead connected to the community or communities in which your project is based?

Member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. 

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

At Nopalito Network, we take a different approach to support Indigenous entrepreneurs, addressing both technical and cultural barriers. Unlike conventional programs, we blend digital education with cultural awareness to offer a comprehensive solution.

Community involvement is key to our methodology. We actively engage community members, cultural advisors, and tribal leaders in program design and implementation. This ensures our initiatives are culturally relevant, respectful, and responsive to community needs.

Recognizing the complexity of these challenges, we prioritize collaboration. By partnering with a diverse range of stakeholders, including tribal governments, educational institutions, and industry leaders, we create a supportive ecosystem capable of tackling the issues faced by Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Describe in simple terms how and why you expect your solution to have an impact on the problem.

Our solution aims to make a difference by providing Indigenous entrepreneurs with the tools and support they need to succeed in the modern digital world. 

Through community involvement and collaboration with various stakeholders, our programs are tailored to meet the specific needs of Indigenous communities. This approach not only empowers economic development but also preserves and celebrates Indigenous culture.

Ultimately, we believe that by equipping Indigenous entrepreneurs with the skills, knowledge, and resources they need, we can create a positive impact on their businesses, communities, and overall well-being.

What are your impact goals for your solution and how are you measuring your progress towards them?

Impact goals for Nopalito Network are centered around empowering Indigenous entrepreneurs, encouraging economic growth within our communities, and preserving Indigenous culture. We measure our progress towards these goals:

1. Economic Empowerment: We track the number of Indigenous entrepreneurs who successfully complete our program and launch their own businesses. 

2. Community Engagement: We assess the level of community involvement in our programs, including the participation of community members, cultural advisors, and tribal leaders. We also gather feedback from participants and stakeholders.

3. Cultural Preservation: This includes cultural awareness in our curriculum, as well as the impact of our initiatives on Indigenous language, traditions, and heritage.

4. Partnerships and Collaborations: We measure the growth and diversity of our partnerships with tribal governments (Pascua Yaqui Tribe), educational institutions (University of Arizona), and industry leaders. These partnerships enable us to expand our reach, access additional resources, and amplify our impact.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The technology we are using for the Summer pilot program is WordPress, FigJam, and Slack. These platforms integrate user-friendly website development tools, digital marketing resources, and a virtual learning environment to equip entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the digital economy. 

Technology may change as trends and usability change. 

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which parts of the US and/or Canada do you currently operate?

Tucson, Az, US

Which, if any, additional parts of the US or Canada will you be operating in within the next year?


Your Team

How many people work on your solution team?

1 Full-time: Nicolette Gomez

1 "other worker": Aleshia Howell

Currently hiring an intern for the Summer program.

How long have you been working on your solution?

1.5 years established

Tell us about how you ensure that your team is diverse, minimizes barriers to opportunity for staff, and provides a welcoming and inclusive environment for all team members.

Through open communication and mutual respect, we prioritize creating a welcoming space where all can thrive with respect to the tribe we are working within and in all interactions.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Nopalito Network operates on a blended business model that integrates both nonprofit and for-profit elements. Our revenue sources include grants, donations, and philanthropic funding to support our grassroots initiatives, such as community outreach and cultural preservation programs. Additionally, we offer digital education services, web design, marketing and consulting to businesses and organizations, generating income through service fees and partnerships. This diversified approach allows us to sustainably fund our mission-driven activities while also generating revenue to support our ongoing operations and growth.

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable, and what evidence can you provide that this plan has been successful so far?

Our plan for achieving financial sustainability revolves around diversifying our revenue streams, expanding our client base, and maximizing the impact of our programs and services. We aim to generate revenue through a combination of grants, donations, service fees, and partnerships. 

Solution Team

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