In November 2023, the first visit of our new Member Learning Exchange Scheme took place between Youth Business International (YBI) members Sky’s the Limit (USA) and Futurpreneur (Canada). Laura Plato, COO of Sky’s the Limit, visited her colleagues in Canada for two days of learning and sharing.
The Member Learning Exchange Scheme is designed to give members the opportunity for deep-dive learning and collaboration through a funded ‘study visit’ in the offices and company of another YBI member. “I was drawn to the scheme because it offers such a unique way for us to meet other members, engage in cross-cultural learning, and share best practices in entrepreneurship support”, says Laura.
Laura’s primary learning goal was to build her knowledge around the implementation of Indigenous entrepreneurship support programmes. Futurpreneur has been delivering The Ohpikiwin Series, Journey to financial empowerment, a programme funded by Accenture to deliver economic empowerment to Indigenous communities in Canada. Futurpreneur have been working with Indigenous community leaders and entrepreneurs to produce an all-new informative training series.
“Linsey at YBI is a fantastic programme manager and has been helping me understand the YBI network and get a better handle on the programmes and services fellow members are delivering. She recommended I become more familiar with Futurpreneur due to their exemplary work in supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs.”
Linsey Deeks, Programme Manager at YBI, was also in attendance at the exchange and witnessed the benefits of our network coming together for an in-depth exchange. “We spent two days together and the first was focused on learning and sharing. Both members talked about their programmes and offerings, giving useful insights into their work and organisational motivations.
On the second day Laura and I joined Futurpreneur for their ‘Ohpikiwin: Growing Indigenous Entrepreneurship’ event – a fantastic combination of pitching sessions, panel discussions, presentations on the programme and time to meet with and purchase products from some of Futurpreneur’s Indigenous entrepreneurs. We heard from an Elder from the Indigenous community alongside both experienced Indigenous entrepreneurs supported by Futurpreneur and those at the start of their entrepreneurship journeys.”
Through this exchange, Laura has gained both knowledge and reassurance in how she and the Sky’s the Limit team can move forward with their own support programme for Indigenous people. “I learned so much about how Futurpreneur turned the dream of their Indigenous Entrepreneur Support Programme into a reality, and was also able to share some of our strategy and approach as a technology-led entrepreneurship programme at Sky’s the Limit. We have so much in common, and so much we can learn from one another as YBI members.
“The exchange highlighted both differences and similarities in supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs in our respective locations. Their approach to integrating Indigenous wisdom teachings into the entrepreneurship support framework was particularly noteworthy and a wonderful reminder of how critical honouring lived experiences is to enhancing both team and programme effectiveness.
“I believe this exchange will definitely inform the development of more effective, culturally sensitive support programmes at Sky’s the Limit, ultimately contributing to the empowerment and success of Indigenous entrepreneurs. Our discussions really helped me feel seen, understood, and to know that while the work can be hard, we can always reach and brainstorm potential solutions together.”
Over the coming months, more YBI members will be visiting each other’s places of work to deepen their learning on a range of topics and strengthen their connections with peers in the YBI network. “One fun surprise: the energy we get from working together as YBI members”, says Laura. “It’s truly inspirational to stand shoulder to shoulder and tackle these hard challenges with our different perspectives and experiences, together.”