Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI) helps Métis entrepreneurs get ahead
It is no big secret—starting a business is hard. There is a lot of risk. It requires an incredible amount of work to get it off the ground. Once it’s up and running, a business needs endless amounts of determination and perseverance to fulfill the goals envisioned by the owner. As this magazine highlighted in our Summer 2018 edition, Saskatchewan has the highest per capita count of small business establishments in Canada with a rate of 129 businesses per 1,000 people in 2016.1 Entrepreneurs are so important to this province’s economy—and they create much-needed jobs.
Dedicated to Métis education, employment and culture in Saskatchewan, Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI) is a valuable institute providing entrepreneurs with skills and knowledge to help with their business ventures. Speaking with Brendon Demerais, Manager of Self-Employment, he points out that GDI plays an important role in helping individuals identify support services for business development. There are several different service providers offering a variety of assistance to the Saskatchewan Métis community including the Clarence Campeau Fund and the SaskMétis Economic Development Corporation. These organizations help entrepreneurs access financing, grants and other forms of assistance for helping their business get off the ground.
Funded through Western Economic Diversification Canada, one of GDI’s key programs is their Pathways for Entrepreneurship. It helps entrepreneurs develop pathways to move a business from idea to reality. This includes their Road Map resource that helps to demystify the process of actually starting a business. For those who are eligible, there are milestone bonuses for things like creating a business plan, registering the business, and making the first sale.
“In terms of actual support, I would encourage anyone, whether you are just at the ideation phase, a casual business owner, or all the way to a full operational business with large revenues to engage with some of our programming,” says Demerais. Continuing education and developing business acumen is always important for companies at any stage.
GDI’s overall goal is to help create, maintain, and expand Métis business within the province. They want to see sustainable economic development and wealth creation, especially in Métis communities in the North and in urban centres. GDI has always focused on training and employment, but this project helps expand capacity as an organization and look to the next step, which is business and job creation.
The Praxis School of Entrepreneurship in Saskatoon also works with GDI by funding seats within programs. The school offers a wide variety of training that builds invaluable business skill sets and entrepreneurial training. “A lot of people have great ideas, but haven’t taken the time to think them through. They also lack the ability to describe why they will be profitable. This often discourages people when they get in front of banks and financiers because their ideas get shot down due to lack of homework,” says Demerais.
Hosting workshops has been another successful way for GDI to engage those interested in starting their own businesses. In their two-day Métis Entrepreneurship Workshop, a consultant who goes over a variety of topics important to business, including budgeting and how to cost out your business to cover fixed costs and a realistic salary. Partnering with Blue Moose Media, GDI also holds a digital marketing workshop that is very popular. As digital marketing has become more important, so has the strategies around it. This workshop explores using social media networks, scheduling content, engaging community-based content, photography, editing and much more.
These resources are valuable for the student starting the business. There are the spin-off effects of job creation, and the products and services offered to the public. It’s important for people to understand that entrepreneurs cannot be the masters of all these factors that create a successful business. They need help with accounting, writing, planning and execution. It’s difficult enough to have good idea for a business, let alone everything else that goes into turning that idea into a reality. And, GDI is ready to help.
GDI Success Stories
Dean Gauthier, a former GDI client, is now an employer partner with GDI. Gauthier completed his apprenticeship training with GDI and is now a journeyperson with his own company in Meadow Lake. As owner of Meadow Lake Truck and Trailer Ltd., he has seven employees and has taken on a summer student from GDI. “My goal is to employ as many Métis and First Nations people as I can. I would also like to expand my business and set up another shop back home in Beauval and provide services for the North,” says Gauthier.
Jaclyn Arnold, owner of Sktn Mini Eats, was one of GDI’s first clients to access this program. She attended their Métis Entrepreneurship Workshop and the Digital Marketing Workshop. She had a bold business idea that she turned into a reality because of the help she received. GDI funded Jaclyn to take QuickBooks training at Saskatoon Business College, Food Safe Training, and attending industry conferences. She also received valuable assistance building her business plan, accessing professional services related to product recall policy, website development and photography. Jaclyn also was able to take advantage of GDI’s 6-month transition allowance and $1,500 in milestone bonuses.