Looking back at a year of Indigenous Entrepreneurship

Friday, June 17, 2022

The inaugural pilot year of the Indigenous Entrepreneurship training programs facilitated through St. Paul’s GreenHouse has come to a very successful end. The program was built on a model of Indigenized business education and experiential learning. Students who entered the program received training and support from a network of Indigenous entrepreneurs, elders and community organizations who helped them with launching their own projects and ventures.

Throughout the year-long pilot the program was tested with 3 different cohorts; students who self-identify as entrepreneurs, students who self-identify as problem solvers and students who are enrolled in a business program.

Pilot 1 worked with students who self-identify as entrepreneurs. This cohort focused heavily on community building and brought students from across Canada together while they worked to launch their own businesses and projects. To help them achieve their goals and successfully launch, students were provided with milestones to move their ideas into action, access mentors and professional networks and find access to funding opportunities.

Tia K

After the Indigenous entrepreneurship cohort, I felt very inspired and continued to grow my business. It was once a side hustle and has now become my full-time career. I've been able to turn my passion into a career and I am forever grateful for the tips, tools, and community I made during my cohort. 

- Tia Kennedy, founder of Kiinew Kwe Consulting

Pilot 2 worked with students who self-identify as problem solvers. These students had the opportunity to work in teams to solve an innovation challenge that was presented by a community partner. The community partner for this terms team was Taza, a First Nations-led development company. The goal was to address the challenge “How might we improve Taza’s capacity to connect and strengthen long-term Indigenous engagement in economic development opportunities?”

Kelly

My partner and I were tasked with creating a functioning student internship program that could be integrated into any area of the organization. Once that was complete we presented it to their leadership for approval.[...] In the end we provided a successful deliverable that helped us gain a student contract with Taza Development Corporation and Tsuut’ina Education to implement the program further. 

- Kelly Orr

Pilot 3 worked in partnership with the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) and their second-year business students. This cohort worked in a very similar way to the first cohort but with an emphasis on adapting content based on different lived experiences of their target audience.

St. Paul’s will be launching 2 new programs: the Indigenous Entrepreneurship diploma program and Trading Post. The Indigenous Entrepreneurship diploma program will be delivered through distance learning. This 6-course diploma will collaborate with institutional partners in Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba and more. The diploma program will be supported by Trading Post, a new incubator dedicated to Indigenous Entrepreneurship. The Indigenous Entrepreneurship team developed and created Trading Post to act as an online resource centre for Indigenous entrepreneurs across Canada. This is a one-stop centre where you can connect with online training and development, resources for small business funding streams, coaching and mentorship, networking and much more!

To learn more about the inaugural year of the Indigenous Entrepreneurship programs, Jacob Crane and Brendan Wylie-Toal produced a podcast sharing their findings: