October was Inclusivity month across the YBI Network and as well as showcasing and encouraging inclusive entrepreneurship at our Global Youth Entrepreneurship Summit we’re delighted to put a spotlight on a recently launched series dedicated to the financial empowerment of young Indigenous adults in Canada.
By Erica James
Futurpreneur is the only national, non-proﬁt organization in Canada that provides ﬁnancing, mentoring, and resources to aspiring business owners aged 18-39. Erica James is an Ojibwe woman from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. Erica joined Futurpreneur as our Program Specialist for the Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program (IESP). Erica leads program development for Futurpreneur's Ohpikiwin Series: Journey to financial empowerment, focusing on Indigenous economic inclusion and resilience, to assist young and aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs in developing their business financial capacity and entrepreneurship skills.
Indigenous peoples have been entrepreneurs from time immemorial – trade was key to Indigenous ways of life. Trading routes and relationships were established by Indigenous peoples long before the arrival of western settlers. Indigenous women were leaders and played key decision-making roles in their families and communities. A return to Indigenous entrepreneurship is a return to traditional roles of equity sharing within communities – everyone had a role to provide for the greater good of the community.
From the perspective of an Indigenous woman, I understand the suffering that was and is still experienced by Indigenous communities today. The atrocities faced by Indigenous People through colonialism may have only been a temporary dismantling of Indigenous leadership. Indigenous people have demonstrated great courage and resilience in the face of extreme adversity, and as healing occurs in the lives of Indigenous people, they will naturally reclaim sovereignty as the visionary entrepreneurial leaders they have been throughout history. The vision, insights, depth of knowledge and connection to their Creator will be the guiding principles of these leaders for future generations.
The next generation of Indigenous entrepreneurs will be carried by the young generation, so it is vital that they are introduced to entrepreneurship at an early age. Every child has a dream, and when it is paired with the unlimited possibilities that entrepreneurship offers, a larger dream can be achieved via smaller reachable goals. Starting with education as the foundation for the young to become successful entrepreneurs and create important and meaningful connections throughout their journeys will be the key for long term success.
The design and delivery of content is most impactful when participants can personally relate to culturally resounding material, visuals, and individuals. By having facilitators and guest speakers who have similar lived experience, the content becomes more powerful. Learners are then able to share personal stories and testimonies of overcoming obstacles. This authentic approach to teaching allows the participants to see that they too can achieve higher levels of success by creating their own opportunities with a clear vision.
Indigenous entrepreneurship is a path that Indigenous people can take to move towards a successful future. It takes determination to face and overcome the obstacles that arise along the journey.
Futurpreneur supports Indigenous entrepreneurs aged 18-39, helping them launch or buy their own business through business planning resources, financing, and mentorship for up to two years. We help young entrepreneurs bring their business dreams to life.
Futurpreneur recently launched a new informative series dedicated to the financial empowerment of aspiring and young Indigenous entrepreneurs. The Ohpikiwin Series: Journey to financial empowerment is delivered in partnership with Youth Business International as part of our Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program (IESP). Ohpikiwin means “growth” in the Cree language. Cree is one of many First Nation communities in Canada.
This offering will focus on Indigenous economic inclusion and resilience to assist aspiring and young Indigenous entrepreneurs in developing their business financial capacity and entrepreneurship skills. The result will be that the participants will be prepared to take actionable steps to shape their financial environments through personal sustainability that transcends into small business sustainability.
The Ohpikiwin Series will receive ongoing feedback from Indigenous participants, leaders, and entrepreneurs to help co-create future offerings. The series is designed and delivered by an Indigenous team that is honoured to be contributing to Indigenous economic resiliency and helping lead the way for the next generation of entrepreneurs.