New NWT program believes in entrepreneurs beyond business

Inspire NWT is launching a program for young people across the territory who are interested in leadership, entrepreneurship, or growing their professional skillset.

The 12-week program is set to launch on September 27 with two cohorts: one offered in person in Fort Providence and one offered online across the four Tłı̨chǫ communities.

Eligible applicants must be between 18 and 30 years of age, based in the NWT, and be able to commit 10 to 12 hours per week from Monday to Friday between September 27 and December 17. 


“The program combines principles of social entrepreneurship and leadership with northern culture and values,” a news release stated.

The first half of the program focuses on introducing participants to basic elements of entrepreneurship, leadership, and community development from a northern perspective. During the second six-week period, participants will plan an entrepreneurial project designed to have a positive impact in their community.

Inspire Nunavut. Photo: Submitted

The program is supported by the organization Small Economy Works, which has operated a similar program in Nunavut for the past six years. The organization said Inspire Nunavut reached more than 20 communities and nearly 250 students.

Lois Philipp, managing director of Inspire NWT, said the goal is to create sustainable economies in northern communities. 

“We need to create opportunity and a sense of hope in our smaller communities,” said Philipp, a Fort Providence resident.


“Let’s start to showcase all that is good in our communities instead of focusing on all that is challenging. Each one of our communities has such a wealth of promise, and a wealth of knowledge, and opportunity, and possibility for our young people that we need to begin to support them in developing.”

While the team ran a pilot version of the program over the summer, the upcoming cohorts will join the first full-length iteration. 

“We think of entrepreneurs as business owners … but rather, it’s really about everything we do in our communities,” Philipp said.  

“Whether it’s a social entrepreneur activity, whether it’s a soup kitchen or whatever, those are all entrepreneurial activities that really define our communities and expand our understanding of what it really means to be involved in community. 


“Those are all endeavours that have impacted our communities. And really, our youth need to find themselves in one of those aspects.”

Inspire Nunavut. Photo: Submitted

Victoria Mazzariol, Inspire NWT’s program manager, said participants will meet guest speakers with entrepreneurial experience or expertise in business or community development. 

Mazzariol said the program isn’t just for people planning to start a business. 

“It’s about people who want to learn how to think with an entrepreneurial mindset, and understand that that’s something that everyone can do, and it can be applied to any area of life,” she explained. 

The deadline to submit an application form is Friday, September 10.