Handcrafted soaps made with bowhead whale oil, earrings adorned with dentalium shells and moosehide, and sage “smokeless smudge” spray inspired by traditional Dene medicine – these are just some of the products created by the nine Northerners that made up EntrepreNorth’s first ever cohort of entrepreneurs.
The first cohort to take on EntrepreNorth’s six month training program had the opportunity to travel across the North, connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, celebrate Northern and Indigenous culture, and network with funders/investors and the broader business community. The program’s unique combination of cohort based learning, distant applied work sprints, tailored business mentorship, and life coaching helps entrepreneurs develop business leadership skills, and become investment and market ready.
The fresh, bold, inspiring ideas coming out of these Northern entrepreneurs didn’t surprise us. Over the past decade, our work with community partners across Canada’s North has taught us that Northerners are full of great ideas like these – that push the envelope, address unique challenges, and drive social change. Often living in remote communities dotted across a vast landscape, Northerners face high living costs and the devastating long-lasting effects of climate change, resource development, and colonization. It’s no wonder that their innovation spirit is palpable.
But starting your own business is tough, even without the added pressures of uniquely Northern challenges. EntrepreNorth, a project of Tides Canada’s shared platform, was developed to address these challenges and to empower Northern Indigenous entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses and livelihoods.
EntrepreNorth’s vision of Indigenous and community-based businesses strengthening self-determined ways of life is at the core of what we are trying to do here at Tides Canada. We believe that those embedded in the community and closest to its complex problems are in a unique position to address shared challenges. Solutions born at the community level are the best catalysts of prosperity, the strongest drivers of social change, and the most likely to go the distance.
The nine entrepreneurs that took part in EntrepreNorth’s first cohort are case in point.
Check out the above video to hear directly from the cohort’s participants about what they’re taking away from the six-month training program.
EntrepreNorth’s second cohort kicks off in October 2019. It is made up of eight entrepreneurs building on the land tourism businesses across Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon. To find out more about EntrepreNorth, the entrepreneurs, and their ventures visit entreprenorth.ca. To learn more about Tides Canada’s work across Canada’s North visit tidescanada.org/focus/northern-well-being/.