As the climate crisis approaches the point of no return, there is an urgent need for environmental businesses in Canada to halt the impacts of climate change and aid in the transition towards a net-zero economy.
Métis entrepreneur and scholar Richard Tuck, BIB/01, believes marrying the world of business with Indigenous ways of knowing is imperative in addressing the climate crisis. He explains that Indigenous people deeply consider the impacts of one’s actions on the next seven generations and look at Earth as the giver and sustainer of life.
The Sprott School of Business and the Innovation Hub at Carleton University, in partnership with ECO Canada and Carleton’s Future EDge Talent Ecosystem, recently launched the Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program to equip and empower Indigenous entrepreneurs to launch and grow environmental ventures.
“Creating these opportunities will not just benefit the environment but will also have a big impact on local and regional economic development,” said Yogendra Chaudhry, vice president of professional services and ESG at ECO Canada.
Canada’s environmental sector is currently dominated by medium and large organizations that encounter challenges, such as cultural and location access barriers, when planning large environmental projects in remote Indigenous communities. Entrepreneurs from those communities, on the other hand, would be strongly positioned to mitigate those challenges.
“The value for the participants is that this program is helping them get to the next stages – whatever they may be,” said Richard, program director and instructor. “It is also creating a community of Indigenous entrepreneurs, which brings with it transfer of knowledge, and eventually growth for all.”
The curriculum delivers foundational knowledge that is vital for those running businesses and showcases journeys of others to inspire the participants. Participants also receive support and guidance in developing plans to achieve their goals.
The program ensured that Indigenous approaches were interwoven in the course design. Using Two-Eyed Seeing methodology, all its aspects embraced the principles of self-determination, engagement, empowerment, and capacity building.
The first cohort of 26 participants completed the program on April 11. The Innovation Hub continues to work with the program participants to support them in the next stages of their journey, by providing them with access to its ecosystem for an additional six months.
“If they want a blog written about their experience, if they want more mentors, if they want help creating a website, we are here for them,” said Harry Sharma, director of Carleton’s Innovation Hub. “The Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program is the start of a relationship between us and all these wonderful entrepreneurs.”
While the program was launched as a pilot project, the Sprott School of Business, Innovation Hub and ECO Canada hope to run the program every year.
Sprott School of Business
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