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Animikii at the Indigenous Business Planning Course

December 18, 2019

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On October 23, 2019, Animikii partnered with the Songhees Innovation Centre to launch a free 8-week Indigenous Business Planning course. Thunderbird Sam assisted in hosting the Entrepreneurship Course at the Songhees Innovation Centre on the unceded traditional territory of the Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees) Peoples.

We caught up with Sam on the completion of the Indigenous Business Planning course to see how the Entrepreneurship program went, what their takeaways were, and what participants found to be the most impactful part of the event.

Why did you decide to run this program?

Sam: Indigenous people have been entrepreneurs since time immemorial, and are often doing entrepreneurial work without even realizing it. We wanted to provide a platform for Indigenous people to define their businesses and build valuable business plans that could be used as living, breathing documents to be shared with potential partners, investors and community. These plans act as an overall roadmap for their business activities to guide the priorities and growth of their businesses. Indigenous peoples are often underrepresented in the business community and it is important for them to have the opportunity to work on their businesses in a culturally inclusive and values-based program.

How did you contribute to the event?

Sam: I contributed to the Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program as the Program Coordinator. I created the advertisements which we circulated through our social media platforms, to our community, and to my personal network of Indigenous entrepreneurs. The program announcement was very well received reaching over 2,100 people on Facebook alone. All 10 seats were filled in less than a week and a waitlist was created for future programs. Through my personal network, I sourced all of the external presenters for the program, arranging for professionals to speak to the participants on various business topics and their experiences as entrepreneurs. Throughout the program, I have assisted our Facilitator, Elysia, in delivering the curriculum, sharing personal experiences and my own knowledge around business development, and supporting our entrepreneurs with their questions from class to class. I have also arranged and provided the food and refreshments to keep our entrepreneurs fueled while they are hard at work.

What part of the event did you find the most impactful?

Sam: The most impactful part of the event was the engaged participants who shared their experiences, their struggles and their goals for their businesses. It was during these mini case studies that invaluable learning was done as participants supported each other with insights and feedback they would not have received working at their businesses alone. Learning from each other in an environment free of judgement has created a safe space for the entrepreneurs to dive deep into their businesses in the most supportive way possible.

Why do you think it’s important for Animikii to reach out in this kind of capacity?

ibp2Sam: Animikii is a leading Indigenous business in Canada and their story is an inspiration to the budding entrepreneurs who have attended our program. Animikii proves that you can have a values-based business that is highly successful and you do not have to sacrifice one to achieve the other. Remaining grounded in culture as we build our business is an important part of being an Indigenous person and it sets us apart from mainstream organizations.

Which of the 7 Grandfather teachings was most expressed at the event?

Sam: The Grandfather teachings that were most expressed throughout this program are Wisdom and Humility. The transfer of knowledge between facilitator, coordinator and the participants was exactly what we strive for when we come together to learn and grow. The humility to acknowledge that we are always learning from each other and to seek out the help when needed, and equally offer it in return was admirable. I am honoured to have been a part of this program and a part of the journey of these inspiring Indigenous businesses.

December 18, 2019

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