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Startup businesses flourish in Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation

New businesses are being launched by graduates of a Canadore College program geared toward helping aspiring entrepreneurs.
Students from the Sagamok Niigaaniin: Ontario Works program graduated from the 13-week program in December.

New businesses are setting up shop in Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation thanks to a recent cohort of Canadore College’s entrepreneurship training.

In partnership with Sagamok Niigaaniin: Ontario Works program, the 13-week program was geared towards individuals aspiring to start their own business. Seventeen participants were encouraged to develop their own creative ideas, identify goals and define metrics in the development of their business.

“This program is comprehensive and intensive,” said Judy Manitowabi, manager of community-based and contract training in Canadore College’s First Peoples’ Centre, in a news release.

“Students were led through the demanding task of preparing a business plan, which included explaining their entrepreneurial idea, completing an environmental and competitive scan, establishing a strategy, conducting risk analysis, identifying funding requirements and more.”

Manitowabi said the program was developed specifically for Sagamok Niigaaniin: Ontario Works to help members with a desire to learn more about business development in a community-based setting. Participants attended classes three days a week, a program delivery strategy developed to allow participants to continue to support their family obligations. 

Charles Gagnon, former Tembec vice-president and retired manager of community relations at Canadore College, was the primary instructor for the program. 

“It was a tremendous success with 100 per cent of the students graduating after 13 weeks of extremely hard work,” said Gagnon.

“The community of Sagamok will see many new businesses start up, which will contribute to economic development and improved quality of life of its residents over years and generations to come.”

The class’s proposed business startups ranged from a coffee shop to a laundromat, a taxi service to hairdressing salon, a multi-service law firm to internet provider, and more. Both Manitowabi and Gagnon are impressed with the breadth and variety of ideas, stating that they fill service gaps within the community.

Program graduate Conrad Toulouse received a $2,500 award from Canadore College’s On-campus Entrepreneurship Activities (OCEA) program towards his corner store startup.  

Graduates of the one-semester program completed a comprehensive business plan to action their entrepreneurial idea and are eligible to enroll into Canadore’s two-year business program with advanced standing in marketing and entrepreneurial studies. 

The entrepreneurship program ran from September to December 2016.