Naotkamegwanning First Nation has launched a new business development website, which aims to showcase its community's startups and enterprises to northwestern Ontario.
Denise Lysak, CEO of Naotkamegwanning Business Corporation, said the website is a tool to raise the profile of businesses in the community, and offer assistance to start-ups.
“We wanted to launch it so that people knew that we were definitely open for business, and to give them a better idea about the types of services that we could provide,” Lysak said. “This corporation is set up to oversee and manage different business entities. So part of it is this advice from both professionals in terms of the accounting and law areas.”
According to the website, Naotkamegwanning Business Corporation strives to create conditions that support business development, job creation, and shared platforms that work in tandem with each other to honour the history and heritage of the Ojibway people while recognizing the needs and aspirations of community members living in modern society.
The business corporation and businesses featured on the website are wholly owned by the First Nation community; businesses do not have to pay to get featured on the website.
“Part of it is [seeking] advice from both professionals in terms of the accounting and law areas. Limited partnerships have also been created,” Lysak said. “There is a board of directors that oversee the strategic direction of that business corporation. There will be policies that help support investment opportunities and different ways that community members can benefit.”
Lysak said since the establishment of the website, they have noticed an uptick in terms of people calling or making inquiries. However, she said they saw a growing awareness and general understanding on what some of the businesses are, how they are structured, the work they do and that they actually exist.
“It is a platform to share information. We also wanted to help in different ways in the coming months. If there are other business opportunities that might be beneficial and support the strategic goals and objectives, then people can really tap into that website as a resource and a starting point to gain more information on different places to look for funding,” Lysak said.
“Information is knowledge and it helps you gain a better understanding of the business areas that entrepreneurs might have to be more aware of. On the website, there are links to regional organizations and different associations that can help support business startups.”
There are also explanations of the different types of businesses that are directly under the umbrella of the business corporation that might see a future, Lysak said.
Oji-Bee Honey Corporation is an example of a small business startup that is supported by Shooniyaa Wa Bitoong, Northwest Ontario Innovation Centre and the Naotkamegwanning Business Corporation.
Lysak said this business is seasonal in nature, but it takes a certain type of person that wants to work outdoors and is physically able to do some heavy lifting in terms caring for the bees.
“The more information that we can share with community members and the broader region will help both market and brand the different businesses,” Lysak said.
“We would look at investment opportunities as well as different ways to both communicate effectively with the community members as well as on an annual base look at how we report back to council on how the business corporation is actually doing.”
The corporation can be found at naotbusinessco.ca.