Becoming an Indigenous Entrepreneur

“Social innovation” is a Western term for how Indigenous people have always built businesses. Start building a business based on your values and have a positive impact on your community.  Indigenous ways of knowing and being will be your strengths and your advantage on this journey. We encourage you to lean into your values and lean into your identity. 

This course can help you come up with a business idea of your own. This course starts with YOU. Who you are, where you come from, what your strengths and passions are can all help you to come up with an idea and begin to build it. As mentor and coach Jacqueline Jennings says, “everything you need is already inside of you.” 

If you haven’t already, consider reading our introduction to Indigenous Innovation first for some helpful background information. 

You are invited to begin your journey into entrepreneurship. We believe in you and want to help you develop your gifts. Let’s get started! 


In SELF, write your own story. Reflect on who you are, where you come from, and your passions and strengths that will help in building a business.


In SEE, imagine a future where your community is thriving. See opportunities to create this future. Ideas for a business will arise from here.


In FOCUS, choose a business idea that aligns your strengths, passions, vision for the future, and community needs.



In RELATIONSHIPS, you will begin to tell your business story and share it to attract opportunities and resources that can help you.

Artist Tyler
Tabobondung Rushnell

Aniin bozhoo greetings my name is Tyler Tabobondung Rushnell. I’m 21 years of age and of Anishinaabe descent. My clan is (Amik)beaver clan and my community is Wasauksing First Nation in Parry Sound, Ontario.

My journey with art started in late 2018 I started doing Anishinaabe style artwork. I got a lot of my inspiration from Norval Morrisseau. I think just wanting to learn more and the experiences I’ve gone through got me to where I am today. Through my journey with art, I was able to donate a painting titled “Natures Beauty” to the Children’s Foundation Charity. This was very special for me as an Aboriginal person. I wanted to donate that painting because I felt if kids were to see what I did, it would spark their creative instincts and inspire them to partake in the arts. I am motivated by other people’s reactions, and it is very humbling. We are all connected to nature. When you go for a walk on a trail, you just feel calm and inspired by animals and plants. I have always felt that way. My message is to be kind and inspire others, no matter what you are doing.

Instagram – @ty_rushnell


Artist Ryan Newman


Ryan is an Ojibwe Painter and Tattoo Artist at Hightide Tattoo Parlour in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Ryan is Bear Clan and a member of Fort William First Nations. His art is inspired by traditional woodland paintings, stories, and his tattooing style. Ryan creates digital and painted pieces.


Instagram – @ryanpooman

Giving thanks to those who helped make this course

Jacqueline Jennings

Paul Lacerte

Andrea Johnston

Jenn Harper

Sara Wolfe

Robert Russell

Chi Nguyen

Stephanie Edgar

Molly Damiani

Roxanne Desforges

Jeffrey Cyr

Wayne Miranda

Shyrah & Rye Baberstock

Nikitasha Kapoor

Tonya Locke

If you want to connect with others who are taking the course you can use the hashtag

#IndigenousInnovators | #IndigenousBusiness

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