Noah Wilson

Money and Mentorship: Noah Wilson Empowers Indigenous Entrepreneurs at Futurpreneur

“I walk in two worlds and try to build bridges between them. It is a challenge at times, but something that I'm proud of taking on,” Noah Wilson explains. He is based out of Treaty One territory on the campus of the University of Manitoba and his home community is Peguis First Nation. These days he’s living in Winnipeg and working with FuturpreneurCanada primarily as an Indigenous Business Development manager for young Indigenous entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 39 as they launch their pre launch or early stage businesses. The organization is dedicated to supporting First Nations, Metis and Inuit entrepreneurs across Turtle Island. 

“Working at Futurpreneur, I am able to connect with Indigenous entrepreneurs across Turtle Island, who are passionate, talented, have incredible ideas and are going after it.” 

Wilson covers Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nunavut as his areas of responsibility, helping early stage business owners. These are people who have had a side hustle for a couple of years or maybe even going to a farmers markets or powwows, who have made sales and realize there is a bigger market for what they have. The side hustle program gives access to up to $15,000 to help launch or expand their side hustle. 

Futurpreneur also has a full time startup program for Indigenous entrepreneurs who are looking to take on an Indigenous business full time as their full time source of income which provides access up to $60,000. This funding is working capital financing, operating capital for their business and financing of any equipment needed for getting their business off the ground. 

Both programs provide access to a mentor for two years who is an entrepreneur or someone with professional experience in areas such as supply chain, sales and marketing, or bookkeeping, including impressive Indigenous entrepreneurs who've gone through the program themselves. Access to capital and mentorship are the biggest barriers he sees Indigenous entrepreneurs encounter and Futurpreneur addresses those challenges. 

“When you surround yourself with highly motivated people, you tend to be highly motivated yourself.”

Outside of his role with Futurpreneur, Wilson is on the board of directors of Peguis Investment Corporation, doing property management for his community and managing businesses under his portfolio. He is the co-chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Council for the local Chamber of Commerce, focused on enacting Call to Action 92. This call to action challenges businesses to participate in Reconciliation through education, procurement, and creating opportunities for Indigenous businesses and communities. 

Wilson was steered into Indigenous economic development by his mentors. He became more involved in Indigenous community while in university, studying with other Indigenous students at the Indigenous student centre, joining the Indigenous Student Association, moving into student leadership and pursuing Indigenous studies and Indigenous governance, specifically. Wilson’s eyes were opened as he learned about economic development, political science, Native studies and business.

Illustration by Shaikara David

“The more I got through the program, [the more] I understood the power that our people have in terms of economic development in this country, as well as the power that corporate Canada has, in terms of policies and being able to influence what we hope to see in our community,” he reflects.  

“I really got interested in promoting and being involved in economic development and making sure that Indigenous peoples have a seat at the table and not only a seat at the table, I think Indigenous peoples should be at the head of the table in terms of terms of negotiations around economic development in this country, because, ultimately, we helped develop this country. We were founders of this country,” he continues. 

”There have been Indigenous economies prior to settler colonialism and it's important to bring those two worldviews together.” 

He’s inspired by Futurpreneur’s Indigenous entrepreneurs and by Indigenous leaders in the community. He’s always looking to build a community of like-minded entrepreneurs and of trailblazing mentors. He benefited from mentorship himself through the director of the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation. 

“It's about putting yourself out there and just showing an interest in a particular area. When you do that, there's countless individuals out there that will see a young person who's interested in a particular topic, and then want to provide some sort of mentorship and guidance,” he advises. 

“Mentors are such a determinant of success in terms of the support, the networks that they have, and their life skills.”

As he goes about his work, Wilson is excited about the resurgence of Indigenous economies in Canada and the way Indigenous people are participating in emerging economies after being excluded for so long.  “We're showing that we provide valuable worldviews and expertise to economic development, not only for our own communities, but for all of Turtle Island and beyond,” he marvels. He sees Indigenous youth looking at pathways to employment and self-employment, and also looking to fill gaps in their communities through entrepreneurship. 

“No matter your age, you have a voice, and you have the ability to influence the community around you… You belong and your voice matters and your contributions matter.”

“If I had a hope for the future wish, it’s to see more Indigenous youth consider Indigenous entrepreneurship and business creation and, and to look at their ability to give back to their communities,” he expresses. That’s why he works with Futurpreneur and innovates however he can, working as an organizational intrapreneur. Walking in two worlds and trying to build bridges between them is a challenge at times, but it’s something that he’s proud of, to be supporting the next generation of Indigenous entrepreneurs and learning from them along the way.

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

  • 0:00 - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit
  • 1:11 - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
  • 2:22 - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet
  • 3:33 - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor

Key Parts

  • Career
  • Identity
    First Nations
  • Province/Territory
  • Date
    March 13, 2023
  • Post Secondary Institutions
    No PSI found.
  • Discussion Guide
    create to learn discuss

Similar Chats