Determination and dreams earn Indigenous entrepreneur first place in business competition
- NC Raine | February 21, 2019
A Saskatoon entrepreneur aiming to provide Indigenous youth with valuable skills in technology has won the 2019 Indigenous Youth Idea Challenge (IYIC).
Alexandra Jarrett, 29, owner of Axis Imagery – a photography, web and graphic design company – returned to IYIC after placing out of the top-five two years prior. This time, Jarrett was prepared and determined to take the top prize.
“The goal was to win, so I did my due diligence. I made sure my business plan was on point, and practiced my pitch. I put in a lot of effort so I was hopeful it was going to be my year,” she said.
For her prize-winning pitch, Jarrett won $6,000 to use towards capital for her business. Jarrett offers a variety of contemporary media-based workshops - including photography, graphic design, web and social media development, and crowd-funding coaching – and plans to extend these workshops to under-skilled and unemployed Indigenous youth, she said.
“Growing up on and off a reserve, I didn’t understand that there were grant opportunities,” said Jarrett. “I want to show the youth that there are options.”
Jarrett said her future plans also include implementing community-directed programs to provide Indigenous youth with the services they require. She said this award is valuable in helping her take her next steps in business.
“It’s the only competition of its kind in our area that you can keep going to every year (unless you win). Everyone who has an idea should go until they win,” she said.
The IYIC, run by the U of S branch of international organization Enactus, provides Saskatchewan youth aged 16-35 the opportunity to engaged in business plan workshops in order to bring their business dreams to life.
“About 13 years ago when this competition was created, our founders conducted a needs assessment and found out that the economic and social disparities between non-Indigenous and Indigenous youth were quite alarming, so they decided to create this project to tackle this issue,” said Jill Wolkowski, U of S Enactus President.
The challenge starts with eight professionally lead workshops for about 30 participants, with typically about half of the participants submitting their business plans to the competition, said Wolkowski.
“The best part about the competition this year was that all of the finalists were female. This was truly inspiring as a woman in business,” said Wolkowski. “I think what made Alexandra (Jarrett)’s plan stand out the most was her full purpose in her business. Not only did she create this business to pursue her love of photography, but also uses her business to help her community out.”
The other finalists were April Moosomin and Betty Pewapsconias. Moosomin, who took second place, has been running a successful makeup artistry business, Makeup by April Dawn, for five years. The business plan she presented to IYIC involved expansion from home to a storefront location, and creating an Indigenous-led makeup teaching facility. She said the prize money and education will help her take her next steps in business.
“It was all about learning. I had never had a business plan set out in front of me before,” said Moosomin. “There’s still a lot of work I need to do but I’m grateful for the opportunity to get there.”
Pewapsconias placed third for her business plan for Neechimoose Novelties, a greeting card business featuring uplifting cards with original, cultural art.