Sharon Bond is the owner of the Kekuli Café. Submitted photo

Free entrepreneurship program for Indigenous women

Women from across B.C.’s southern interior can apply for the free program

A free training series will take Indigenous women through the steps of building a business.

On April 28, 20 Indigenous women from across B.C.’s southern interior will start the Aboriginal Business and Entrepreneurship Skills Training (BEST) program, a partnership of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen.

“I believe all Indigenous women have an entrepreneurial spirit. We do whatever we can to provide for our families, from beading and sewing to selling bannock. We find innovative ways to make sure our families are taken care of,” said Elaine Alec, Penticton Indian Band member and partner at Alderhill Planning.

According to the program, the rate of entrepreneurship among Indigenous women is outstripping that among other women: from 2011 to 2014, the self-employment rate among Aboriginal women grew by 7.5 per cent while self-employment grew by 3.8 per cent among non-Aboriginal women. During the same period, self-employment among Aboriginal people grew by 10.7 per cent, compared with 1.4 per cent among non-Aboriginal Canadians.

The Aboriginal BEST program is a free, 12-part training series that takes participants through the steps of building a business, from market research to developing a business plan. Main funding for the program is provided by the federal government through the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. Organizers said it is known for being the most successful entrepreneurship skills training program for Indigenous people in B.C. Approximately 2,300 participants have graduated from BEST, and 69 per cent of BEST graduates go on to start or expand existing business, enter new employment, or enter higher education.

“The program will help other Indigenous women by providing them with skills to develop their own products or home-based business, thereby creating self-employment that is flexible around their family’s schedule” says BEST instructor Anita Large.

Large is herself an Indigenous woman and a self-described ‘serial entrepreneur,’ who was one of 20 women selected from across Canada by the Canadian Centre for Aboriginal Entrepreneurship, to facilitate the program. She has previously run Theytus Books in Penticton and choose entrepreneurship to have flexibility around her young son’s schedule due to high costs of childcare.

“A major benefit of being a freelance entrepreneur supports the life style I want,” said Kelly Terbasket, of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, a social entrepreneur, founder and program director of IndigenEYEZ. “I have the freedom and mobility to work from anywhere I can set up my laptop.”

Rhonda Dieni, owner of Bliss Tea Kombucha, offers another take on entrepreneurship among Indigenous women.

“As far as advice to other Indigenous entrepreneurs goes they must lose the victimization mentality and must work on themselves. It is all about attitude. You can’t give up and you must see the end result in front of you.”

The program includes a networking opportunity at the Aboriginal Business Match West tradeshow in Penticton in May, and participants also have an option to pitch their business ideas to local Indigenous business leaders in June.

Related: Business a good match for Penticton Indian Band

“Entrepreneurship is of paramount importance for any community, but this holds especially true in Indigenous communities where economies are being rebuilt in the context of a changing climate. As young Indigenous people complete their education and are entering the workforce, they discover that self-employment or working for small and medium-size businesses can be the most rewarding solution to pursuing their career,” said ABM co-host Brenda Baptiste of the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Bridges program.

Registration for the Aboriginal BEST program is still open and can be done at the Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen office or online at www.largetraining.ca. For further information people can contact Anita Large at 250-462-3046 or by email best@largetraining.ca.


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Four Canadian mega-bands ready to rock Penticton this summer

Big Wreck, Headstones, Moist, and The Tea Party coming to Penticton in June

Chilliwack on the map for Salmon Arm Roots and Blues

Canadian music legends confirmed for 28th annual music festival

Future of Penticton francophone school secured following funding announcement

$11.5M in funding means École Entre-lacs now independently owned and operated

Deer rescued after falling through ice on Skaha Lake

Deer likely chased onto the lake by a coyote; tail missing, injuries not critical.

Osoyoos RCMP officer charged with indecent act to have hearing held in-camera

Const. Ryan Fulcher of the Osoyoos RCMP is being investigated internally for an alleged indecent act

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

North Okanagan woman pleas for return of stolen scooter

‘It’s been another kick in the teeth… how do you get ahead and keep your head above water?’

Police search for owner of another icy sailboat on Okanagan Lake

The frozen vessel was spotted near the 800 block of Manhattan Drive in Kelowna

Volunteer spends hundreds of hours restoring piece of railway history

Revelstoke Railway Museum now home to an authentic Kalamazzo No. 2 Section Handcar

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

City of Vernon to redirect reclaimed water into Okanagan Lake

MacKay Reservoir nears capacity; city to reflow water into lake near Kin Beach

Most Read