EntrepreNorth runs Indigenous-centered business education programming for entrepreneurs in Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon. EntrepreNorth is a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform, a national Canadian charity dedicated to a healthy environment, social equity, and economic prosperity. The idea of EntrepreNorth was born in 2017 in effort to help Northern entrepreneurs gain the knowledge and support to grow a business and create change within their own communities. “We pulled together a consortium of stakeholders from across all three territories to better understand what the challenges and barriers were for entrepreneurs. We wanted to know how we could position ourselves to help develop and grow local businesses,” said Scott. The solution that emerged from that process focused on capacity building to uplift entrepreneurs. Scott describes it as a “personal and business growth journey,” a ninemonth program bringing together entrepreneurs with the goal of developing business leadership skills, creating networks, and taking early-stage businesses to the next level. Entrepreneurs participate in cohort-based learning, with each cohort organized around a theme that aligns with Indigenous business models and opportunities available in Northern communities. The first cohort, which began in September 2018, brought together entrepreneurs focused on land- and marine-based products. “The cohort-based approach allows us to bring together a diverse group of people and still provide them all with relevant content and learning experiences,” says Scott. During the nine-month program, entrepreneurs meet once in each of the three Northern territories for a week of intensive in-class learning experiences that are grounded in culture and on-the-land activities. Cohort participants gather in Yellowknife, Iqaluit, and Whitehorse. After each meeting, the entrepreneurs return to their businesses and communities to work on what they’ve learned with the support of business mentors, professional life coaches, and a peer network. I N D I G E N O M I C S 1 0 T O W A T C H L I S T J U N E 2 0 1 9 | I N D I G E N O M I C S I N S T I T U T E ‘ S E N T R E P R E N O R T H “Our vision is about strengthening self-determined ways of life through Northern innovation, ” says project director Benjamin Scott. The learning that takes place is different than what you would encounter in a typical business accelerator program. “We want to move beyond the standard business school thought,” says Scott. “We take an approach that supports both personal growth and business development, but do it in a multi-directional way that acknowledges Indigenous ways of knowing and being. Even within business there are universal truths and values that we must uphold.” “Practical education on business leadership, marketing, finance, and operations is centered around how to create and deliver value for customers and community. “It is important for the entrepreneurs to grow that spirit of innovation and purpose within themselves,” describes Scott. At the end of the nine-month formal program, participants graduate into an alumni network of peers, where they continue to be connected and supported on their business journey. This includes access to a growing network, funding opportunities, and other perks and benefits. In remote Northern communities, that network can be powerful. “We’re starting to see the tangible and intangible benefits of that,” says Scott. “It’s great to see how people are in each other’s corner. They’re sharing their collective knowledge and experiences to help one another succeed.” With one cohort graduated and another half-way finished, EntrepreNorth is just getting started, and the benefits thus far are evident. “There’s a growing number of powerful success stories,” says Scott. We’re inspired by our entrepreneurs. A lot of them come with such impactful stories of strength and resilience, as well as a lot of life experience and skills. It’s important to recognize and celebrate that and it’s incredible to see their transformation into business leaders.”