September 18, 2023 – EntrepreNorth, a project with a mission to empower Indigenous entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses and livelihoods across the North, is thrilled to announce the extension of its partnership with the Mastercard Foundation.
The partnership, which honours Indigenous knowledge systems, creates social change, and generates new economic pathways, was first established in 2020 for an initial three-year period.
Now a five-year partnership, this collaboration will drive a movement of Indigenous entrepreneurship that uplifts Northern leadership, mobilizes a community of changemakers, empowers the spirit of innovation, and makes financing more equitable for underserved communities.
The initial partnership, through the Mastercard Foundation EleV Program, allowed EntrepreNorth to get rooted and take its programming to the next level. EntrepreNorth worked with 124 Indigenous entrepreneurs, 75 percent of whom were young people. Initiatives included the cohort-based Entrepreneur Growth Program, Business Ideation Workshops, and a pilot Indigenous Facilitator Certification Program. There was also a strong focus on storytelling through the production of business impact videos and EntrepreNorth’s podcast series, Venture Out.
“We believe that Northern Indigenous entrepreneurs and social innovators can become catalysts of prosperity and drivers of social change within their own communities, and that the development of sustainable enterprises can create local economic opportunities to help break through poverty, address social challenges, and strengthen Northern ways of life,” says Benjamin Scott, EntrepreNorth Founding Project Director and Co-Lead.
“Our continued work with the Mastercard Foundation is a catalyst for bringing greater resources and partnerships to the North, which is critical for breaking down systemic barriers. There are longstanding socio-economic gaps in education, employment, digital equity, and income levels between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations; and in the flow of capital to Indigenous-owned businesses. As a Northern and Indigenous-led project we are innovating solutions to these problems while ensuring that the benefits of our project reside in the North.”
Through this five-year partnership, Indigenous young people will gain access to culturally relevant business education and capacity development; wrap-around supports and technology; community and ecosystem building; resources for driving policy change and thought leadership; platforms for sharing impact stories; and greater access to capital.
“Indigenous youth see entrepreneurship as a path to a meaningful livelihood and a way to contribute to their communities,” says Jennifer Brennan, Director of Canada Programs at the Mastercard Foundation. “EntrepreNorth’s unique approach grounded in Indigenous worldviews and values delivers what Indigenous youth are seeking. We are excited to partner with EntrepreNorth, enabling the right support at the right time to unlock growth and possibility.”
“Ultimately,” says Scott, “our vision is a movement of Northern Indigenous entrepreneurs who are innovating solutions to strengthen economic resilience and community wellbeing for generations to come. The Mastercard Foundation is getting behind this vision in a meaningful way and demonstrating how philanthropy is done right. We hold immense gratitude for their support and we’re looking forward to catalyzing transformative change that has a powerful ripple effect across the North.”
EntrepreNorth empowers Indigenous entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses and livelihoods across the North. The project offers culturally-grounded business programming to early-stage entrepreneurs in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon who are ready to elevate their business and community impact. EntrepreNorth is a project on MakeWay’s shared platform.
For more information on EntrepreNorth, please visit: entreprenorth.ca
About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation is a registered Canadian charity and one of the largest foundations in the world. It works with visionary organizations to advance education and financial inclusion to enable young people in Africa and Indigenous youth in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. Established in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company, the Foundation is an independent organization separate from the company, with offices in Toronto, Kigali, Accra, Nairobi, Kampala, Lagos, Dakar, and Addis Ababa. Its policies, operations, and program decisions are determined by the Foundation’s Board of Directors and leadership.
For more information, please contact:
Partner, Public Affairs and Communications, Canada Programs