Share Your Story: Activ8

Business courses customized for Indigenous entrepreneurs

BC Achievement 2
BC Aboriginal Business Awards night.

Students and staff members of Sto:lo Community Futures

Squamish Nation
Students at Squamish Nation

By Shari Narine
Cando Contributor

Loa Fridfinnson, co-founder of Activ8 Education & Training, is passionate about tapping the potential of Indigenous youth.

Funding from the B.C. government this past summer allowed her to offer a business confidence building workshop for Indigenous youth, the fastest growing population in Canada, and showed her that not only are youth interested in business, but they are also capable.

So now, Activ8 Education is rolling out a Youth Career, Entrepreneurial & Confidence Building Program, which will empower youth to better understand themselves and their thinking habits, assess what they are passionate about and good at, learn about personal money management, business and the economy, and take steps in their career paths.  

“We will be introducing the youth program to (First) Nations directly and are hoping to get sponsored by a bank or corporation who wants to support the health, prosperity and vitality of Canada’s Indigenous communities,” said Fridfinnson, who notes that 50 per cent of Indigenous youth are under the age of 28.

But working with youth isn’t the only item on Activ8’s agenda.

Fridfinnson, who has run a marketing agency for 17 years, began working with First Nations five years ago, after being asked by Geena Jackson, consultant, co-facilitator and small business officer at the Squamish Nation, to create and teach a course in social media.  

Along with Squamish, Activ8 is now developing entrepreneurs and growing small businesses within the communities of Musqueam, Kwitwetlem, Tsleil-Waututh and, most recently, Sto:lo Nations.

“That I know of, we are the only educator providing entrepreneurial confidence, marketing, sales and digital media training customized for the Indigenous small business market,” said Fridfinnson.

Activ8’s courses are customized for First Nations and offered directly in those communities.

“It’s on Nation land so when students and participants come into the class, they’re already feeling comfortable because it’s their centre they’re used to going to,” said Fridfinnson.

To help recruit potential students, Fridfinnson is working on a train-the-trainer program, which will help program managers on First Nation’s to more effectively market the program and increase enrollment.

Activ8 also provides resources for funding and grants, as well as a resource to help write grants. Fridfinnson is also looking to get funding that will allow her to offer her courses on line.

“It’s about First Nation members turning their passions into a commercialized venture,” she said.

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