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EntrepreNorth secures new five-year funding agreement

Speakers at an EntrepreNorth event. Angela Gzowski/EntrepreNorth
Speakers at an EntrepreNorth event. Angela Gzowski/EntrepreNorth

A project that trains northern, Indigenous entrepreneurs has signed a fresh agreement with the Mastercard Foundation to fund five more years of programming.

EntrepreNorth is best known for its annual nine-month program that supports a small cohort of entrepreneurs each year. It also produces a podcast.

Cohorts often have a specific focus, such as businesses about tourism, fashion or food, and they receive mentorship on marketing, finance, investing and other skills to help develop their businesses.

The new funding agreement will allow EntrepreNorth to train some of its alumni to become facilitators, co-director Xina Cowan said, and set up a “research and policy circle that is driven by northern, Indigenous entrepreneurs.”

The project will also launch “an impact fund that offers patient and flexible capital to Indigenous entrepreneurs and social innovators.”

So far, EntrepreNorth says it has worked with 124 entrepreneurs across the three territories.

The Mastercard Foundation, a charity established by the credit card giant in 2006, began funding EntrepreNorth in 2020. The five-year deal follows an initial three-year agreement. The precise value of the agreement was not made public.

In a press release, the foundation’s director of Canada programs, Jennifer Brennan, said EntrepreNorth’s programming was “the right support at the right time” for Indigenous youth who “see entrepreneurship as a path to a meaningful livelihood and a way to contribute to their communities.”

EntrepreNorth’s Benjamin Scott was quoted as saying the continued programs would help people to “become catalysts of prosperity and drivers of social change within their own communities,” and create economic opportunities that “help break through poverty, address social challenges, and strengthen northern ways of life.”