Young Indigenous entrepreneurs to pitch business plans in Las Vegas

WINNIPEG, MB – His pitch rose to the top among his classmates at The University of Winnipeg’s Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre, and now 21 year old Kelly Edwards is preparing to compete for $20,000 in start-up funds. Edwards made his pitch to local judges as he completed the program for young entrepreneurs taught by UWinnipeg’s Director of Indigenous Inclusion, Wab Kinew.

“We’re trying to teach students how to think about business from an Indigenous perspective,” explains Kinew. Edwards says the mentorship he received from Kinew was invaluable, and he learned business is about more than making money.

“Anyone can make money,” Edwards says. “But it’s up to you if you want to make a social impact with your business.”

Edwards’ business plan involves transforming a building on the former Kapyong Barracks site into a boutique hotel and restaurant, contingent on the success of a current effort from several First Nations to gain control of the land.

In March the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, a US organization, is hosting the 28th Annual National Reservation Economic Summit in Las Vegas. The University developed a partnership with the NCAIED to send Edwards and the top student from this semester to the summit, and it’s there they will compete for $20,000.

The University is supported by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce, and members of both organizations sat on the panel of judges that chose Edward’s pitch.

Youth Entrepreneurship Education Training is a twelve week after-school program funded by the Federal Government that empowers youth aged 15-25 through entrepreneurship education, training and cultural learning.  The latest session runs from January 13 to March 10, 2014.

The Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre is a community partnership initiative that provides educational and capacity building opportunities. It is designed to reflect neighbourhood needs for an educational gathering place that is inclusive and accessible.   For more information on programs and services at the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre, please contact Sharon Redsky, Manager at  (204) 789-1454 | s.redsky@uwinnipeg.ca

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 The University of Winnipeg is noted for academic excellence, small class sizes, environmental commitment, campus diversity, Indigenous scholarship, and support of cultural arts. UWinnipeg is strongly committed to promoting access and inclusion, and  is ranked 4th in Canada for reputation by Maclean’s (2013). Find out more at uwinnipeg.ca. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Megan Benedictson, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7129, E: me.benedictson@uwinnipeg.ca

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