Director of Futurpreneur’s Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program
The Ohpikiwin Series: Journey to financial empowerment helps young Indigenous entrepreneurs realize their dream of launching a successful business.
Young entrepreneurs drive Canada’s economic growth, prosperity, and innovation. But the startup process can be challenging. It takes skills, mentoring, and financing to successfully take a new product or service from idea to launch.
As Canada’s only national, non-profit organization providing financing, mentoring, and support tools to business owners aged 18–39, Futurpreneur has helped more than 16,500 diverse young entrepreneurs launch over 13,000 businesses in every province and territory since its inception in 1996.
Developing business capacity and entrepreneurship skills
Futurpreneur recently launched the Ohpikiwin Series: Journey to financial empowerment, dedicated to the financial empowerment of young, aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs in developing their financial business capacity and entrepreneurship skills. “Indigenous youth are one of the largest demographic youth segments in Canada and an integral part of the nation’s economic development and growth,” says Karen Greve Young, CEO of Futurpreneur Canada. “Ensuring they’re equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to identify a gap in the market, develop a viable business plan, and establish their small business is essential to the health and wellness of our future economies in myriad ways, including creating new jobs and providing services honouring Indigenous culture, history, values, and much more,” says Greve Young.
The name Ohpikiwin means “growth” in Cree. “It resonated with us for its meaning, which aligns with my team’s overarching goal to continue to grow the number of Indigenous-owned businesses started and to foster Indigenous economic growth and resilience nationwide,” says Holly Atjecoutay, Director of Futurpreneur’s Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program.
Supporting strong Indigenous economy
The Ohpikiwin Series will be co-designed in collaboration with Indigenuity Consulting Group Inc., an Indigenous-owned company, which works alongside various Indigenous communities, community members, elders, knowledge keepers, entrepreneurs and Indigenous-led organizations, and be delivered in partnership with Youth Business International and Accenture as part of their Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program (IESP) to further drive economic inclusion and resilience into Indigenous communities. IESP provides qualifying participants with financing of up to $60,000, access to resources and workshops, and matches them with an experienced mentor for up to two years. Since Futurpreneur’s IESP was established in 2019, more than 100 young Indigenous entrepreneurs have been able to pursue their dreams of launching a business.
“The main goal of the Ohpikiwin Series: Journey to financial empowerment is to empower young Indigenous entrepreneurs and provide supports to foster the success and growth of Indigenous small businesses across the country, which we believe are the foundation of a strong Indigenous economy and will greatly bolster Indigenous economic development,” says Greve Young.