The Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation (SIEF), National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) and Startup Canada partnered to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Through NACCA’s partnership with Startup Canada, they launched a role model campaign that featured successful Indigenous women entrepreneurs.
SIEF is excited to feature Kellie Wuttunee in celebration of International Women’s Day.
SIEF, with support from NACCA, also hosted two business information workshops on March 10-11, 2021, for Indigenous women wanting to venture into business.
Tiffany Carrier is the founder of Newo Designs, an Indigenous language-inspired clothing and apparel business on Piapot First Nation. Regan Gamble operates SheDrives Paphew, a delivery service that focuses on assisting the elderly. She will deliver everything from groceries to prescriptions.
Tiffany and Regan are still wading through the early stages of running their own business. They welcome any advice and guidance from fellow entrepreneurs, especially like-minded Indigenous women in similar situations.
Raven Shingoose is an automotive service tech who started detailing vehicles from her driveway. Raven aspires to own her own two-bay detailing shop in the new future. Getting there means following a path she has never been down.
All three women attended one of two business information workshops for Indigenous women in March hosted by the Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation (SIEF). Tiffany, Regan and Raven were three of 20 women in each workshop who gained valuable knowledge that one day could help them in achieving their business goals.
“I felt it would be beneficial for my business,” Tiffany said about attending the workshop. “The information that was given was very informative and useful.”
“I found there was so much information I didn’t know was there,” Raven said. “I felt like it opened my eyes that pursuing my business with a business plan is a huge opportunity. I had no idea there was financing and grants available to me.”
“The workshop helped me to reach out more on my journey,” Regan said. “I had no clue there were other resources and agencies to assist with different phases of building your business or becoming your own entrepreneur.”
Carolyn Lachance served as facilitator of the workshops. Carolyn and her husband have a blended family with 10 children, eight of which are young women. Seven of their eight daughters work full-time jobs and raise their own children.
Part of Carolyn’s message to the women at the workshop was to understand that women are more than just caregivers in the home.
“Historically, women took care of the home and made sure the family was safe and taken care of. In 2021, taking care of the family doesn’t necessarily mean making soup and sandwiches for lunch. We’re in a time where we need to have a two-income family in order to be comfortable.”
The workshop covered several topics to support women who are looking to start, pivot or grow a business.
The workshop was made up of five different modules: Entrepreneurship and why it is a promising pathway; stages of business development; effective business practices; adaption and resilience; supports for Indigenous women entrepreneurs.
The Indigenous Women Entrepreneurship project hopes to increase the number of Indigenous women engaging in entrepreneurship and business development in Canada. As part of the project, National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association developed tools and resources specifically geared towards Indigenous women to increase their participation in entrepreneurship.
Access to business support and advice for Indigenous women entrepreneurs is needed now more than ever amid the economic crisis because of COVID-19. These workshops for Indigenous women entrepreneurs are hosted by SIEF (an Aboriginal Financial Institution) to address the gender-specific challenges that they are facing as a result of COVID-19.
“You’re talking about the supports that are available, the opportunities that are available,” Carolyn added. “Underneath everything, the main message here could be about empowerment and taking charge of their lives and their business. It’s about how they need to believe in themselves and make sure that all the work is done.”
The workshop was filled almost immediately, with a waiting list of women hoping to join. SIEF has plans to do host more workshops for men and women in the fall.
Carolyn said the majority of feedback she has received from attendees focused on the value of learning more about the financial supports and opportunities available. She added that talking about finances and credit aren’t common topics of discussion among Indigenous people.
“We don’t talk about credit or debt or those sorts of things. Philosophically, we take what we need and make sure there’s enough for tomorrow. We don’t hoard,” she said. “When you’re looking at that kind of philosophy with money, it just doesn’t fit.”
“This generation is starting to see why our kids need to understand debt and savings accounts and why it’s important for parents to set up these systems so our children will be able to start their adult life on solid footing.”
Regan said the information she absorbed during the workshop was invaluable and that she wouldn’t hesitate to sign up for similar workshops in the future.
“I still a lot to learn. But what I’m learning so far has been enough to keep me going in a positive direction,” she said. “One thing that impacted me most was to really know that we are not alone. That’s big for me.”
“I’ve got a more solid understanding and I’m excited to begin my actual business plan.”