A Community With a Strong Entrepreneurial Mindset
In the Mohawk community of Kanesatake, there are currently 18 private businesses, but based on the obvious interest of its members for entrepreneurship, this number is anticipated to rise in the coming years. Following is an overview of the initiatives put in place by the economic development team to promote entrepreneurship and provide support for local entrepreneurs.
The members of the team, which comprises Tracey Bonspiel, Patrick Gélinas, who have been in office since May 2019, and Manon Jeannotte and Nadia Robertson, who took office in February 2019. Although they have been in office for just a few months, it’s really quite impressive to see all the work that was accomplished in this community, where, it is worth mentioning, there was no economic development officer for the past several months. To remedy the situation and set up this department, Manon Jeannotte has worked closely with The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake.
A Workshop to Stimulate Entrepreneurship
On May 27 and 28 2019, Nadia Robertson and Manon Jeannotte requested the support of the FNQLEDC to support them in their workshops sessions that Nadia Robertson had started due to a high demand from the community future entrepreneurs. A workshop on economic development was presented to all Kanesatake members interested in becoming entrepreneur. In fact, two members of the FNQLEDC Team, Emmanuel Bertrand-Gauvin and Frédérick Martel, traveled to the community to present conferences on women entrepreneurship, financing and indigenous taxation. This event really responded to a need, because in the following days and weeks, the Economic Development Manager, Tracey Bonspiel and the Economic and business Development team received several requests from women having a business project. The manager affirms that thanks to this workshop, several of them now have greater trust in their abilities.
One interesting fact, in Kanesatake, is the majority of the existing businesses and those that are taking shape, are operated by women. This is likely due to the fact that women want to have the means to support themselves and their families, without having to work for someone else. By being entrepreneurs, they can achieve stability and job security which is otherwise almost impossible to attain. Women are very ambitious and often, all they need is just a helping hand to achieve their projects and it’s at this stage that Tracey and her team intervene.
Several women already had a clear business idea and they were at the stage of drafting their business plan. Yet, writing a business plan is an enormous task which requires extensive work, and some sections are more complex than others to write. Tracey accordingly organized a training event on the subject, in cooperation with the Fonds communautaire d’accès au microcredit. As a result, from October 9 to November 20 2019, a cohort of eight women had the opportunity to attend training sessions which included six three-hour workshops.
A Program for Young Entrepreneurs
The Economic and Business Development team had the idea of creating a Pop-up Lemonade Stand. At the end of August, a group of young people aged between 8 and 13, registered with the Youth Entrepreneurship Program, ran a lemonade stand during the Kanesatake pow-wow. With the assistance of the economic development team, the youths were able to prepare a business plan and work on setting up their stand. To advertise their lemonade, they were walking around the site with a poster and glasses. At the beginning, they were a bit hesitant to go towards the pow wow visitors, but their discomfort was quickly dissipated. So much so that, the youngest of the participants, aged only 8, started to take orders and make deliveries as she realized that the other exhibitors could not leave their booths to come and buy a glass of lemonade. This great activity enabled them to familiarize themselves with the concept of entrepreneurship, while raising an amount of money that was subsequently remitted to a community organization chosen by the youths.
A Community Enterprise soon to Become Operational
Unlike a number of First Nation communities, there is no community enterprise in Kanesatake, a situation which seems to be about to change. Effectively, a multicomplex centre, which will be owned by the local government, will soon open its doors. This centre will include among others a food bank, an emergency centre and a service where learning and recreational activities will be offered to kids aged 0 to 17. Prevention services and activities will also be rendered to the population.
In conclusion, at least one can say is that the Mohawks of Kanesatake have a strong entrepreneurial mindset!
Further information on the Mohawk community of Kanesatake can be found at kanesatake.ca.
To discover other local economic development projects and initiatives, we invite you to visit our local economic development section.