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Ivey students support First Nations entrepreneurs in the Yukon

  • Dawn Milne
  • |
  • Jul 9, 2019
Ivey students support First Nations entrepreneurs in the Yukon

Ivey students Sara Raza and Yumi Sasaki (front row, far right), Katie McNamara (second row, far right), and Victor Lal (back row, far right) with some of the participants in LEADER’s Yukon program.

Heather Dickson

Four Ivey students involved with The LEADER Project’s new Yukon site helped First Nations youth entrepreneurs to bring their business ideas to life.

The LEADER Project is a student-led organization that seeks to empower entrepreneurs and transform ideas into engines for sustainable economic growth and positive social change. Through participating in the program, entrepreneurs will develop local business solutions that create opportunities for their communities. A student-driven, international economic development program, The LEADER Project provides future and current entrepreneurs with the analytical tools, thought processes, and decision-making skills to tackle complex business challenges.

A LEADER team made up of Katie McNamara and Yumi Sasaki, both MBA ’19, and Victor Lal and Sara Raza, both HBA ’19, were in Whitehorse May 5-11. They worked with a group of First Nations youth entrepreneurs, including from remote communities in the Yukon, such as Teslin and Mayo. The program was grounded in Ivey’s signature Case-Method Learning and the participants worked with business cases to hone their decision-making skills, and also participated in public speaking workshops. The program also showcased Northern and First Nations-owned business including Air North, The Yukon Soaps Company, and Dickson Designs. Guest speakers included the founders of these companies, as well as representatives from RBC and däna Näye Ventures.

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New site, new focus

Whitehorse is LEADER’s newest site and came about with support from Ivey’s Dean’s Office, the Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship, the Yukon Government Department of Economic DevelopmentYukon College, and däna Näye Ventures. LEADER also operates in Vietnam, Nepal, India, Russia, Macedonia, Serbia, and Bosnia.

“The Whitehorse site is the result of about two years of community outreach and consultation,” said McNamara, who is an Executive Director of the LEADER Project. “With guidance from our project partners and First Nations entrepreneurs, LEADER’s original programming was modified to both Northern and First Nations contexts to add meaningful value to First Nations entrepreneurs from all parts of the Yukon.”

Since its inception in 1991, LEADER has provided more than 8,000 entrepreneurs with the tools to envision and scale their businesses.