Niwee Insights & Ideas Aug 2023

Page 1

Gender inequality, poverty, and racism are barriers to Indigenous women

Inside o Message from our Chair, Dawn Lavell Harvard o Earn Dollars with NIWEE o Do You Have an Act of Kindness to Share and Earn $$$ INSIGHTS & IDEAS Volume 1 | Issue 2 | August 2023
Bob Crane Dawn Lavell Harvard Tuesday Johnson Mc Donald Guy Dancause
is Recruiting its next cohort
David Harries
The Niwee Ecosystem
Sandra Schillo Jacques Pilon Jessica K^anikahluyan Hill Denise Anne Boissoneau


NIWEE – is an excellent Entrepreneurial program enabling Indigenous women to start from where they are.

Message from our Board of Directors Chair

I am very grateful for having been recently invited to Chair the Board of Directors of your National Indigenous Women Entrepreneurs’ Ecosystem. (NIWEE).

I am also proud to announce that eight new members are joining the Board as Directors. Coming from the private sector, academia and civil societies, the new board members bring years of experience and leadership to help address the challenges that many Indigenous women are facing, when looking to launch or scale an early-stage businesses.

NIWEE is a new initiative launched September 2022. Its mandate is:

a. To provide education, training, experiential opportunities, mentoring, business coaching to Indigenous women who aspire to become successful entrepreneurs.

b. To contribute to levelling the playing field for Indigenous women by responding to the TRC’s call to action #92; and delivering an early-stage entrepreneurial program that focuses on Economic Reconciliation, Community Growth and Dignity.

c. Our program is built on a platform that marries both Indigenous and Western World Views as well. It aligns with three ESG goals: No Poverty, Quality Education and Gender Equality.

I hope to see you at one of our leaning programs or at one of our upcoming events to be held this fall and winter within our ecosystem. Access to our events will be available at no cost to NIWEE members. Join us as a member, its Free

In Unity

To contact NIWEE send us an e-mail to


What if more Indigenous Women were encouraged to launch careers as Entrepreneurs or Business leaders?

Gender inequality is a barrier for most women thinking of a career as an entrepreneur or business leader. But when it comes to Indigenous women, poverty and racism collectively create significant additional barriers to those aspiring for a business career. These intersecting challenges compound one another and present unique obstacles that must be addressed to enable Indigenous women to succeed in these roles. Here's how these factors intersect.

o Gender-based discrimination can limit the opportunities available to Indigenous women, impacting their access to education, training, funding, and leadership positions. Stereotypes and biases can hinder their confidence and deter them from pursuing business endeavors

o Indigenous communities often experience higher poverty rates due to historical injustices, limited resource access, and systemic inequalities. Financial constraints can make it difficult for Indigenous women to invest in education, training, and business ventures.

o Racism and discrimination against Indigenous peoples limit access to mainstream economic opportunities, including business development. Bias can affect how Indigenous women are treated by potential partners, investors, and customers, further limiting their prospects.

o Barriers: Indigenous women may face unique cultural expectations and responsibilities challenges. Balancing cultural traditions with the demands of entrepreneurship can be particularly complex.

o Access to Education and Resources and inequality often result in limited access to quality and sufficient education and resources essential for entrepreneurial success. Indigenous women may need more skills and knowledge to start and run businesses.

o Funding Disparities Indigenous women entrepreneurs often need help to secure financing due to systemic biases and a lack of understanding about their businesses. This hinders their ability to launch and grow ventures.

o Lack of Role Models A scarcity of Indigenous women in leadership and business roles makes it difficult for others to visualize their potential in these fields. Role models and mentors from similar backgrounds are essential for inspiration and guidance.

o Community Support Traditional Indigenous values emphasize community and collaboration. However, business environments often emphasize competition, which can clash with these values and create additional challenges.

Inequality Many of these multifaceted challenges are rooted in colonialism and English political theory. In the late the1600s, these theorists defended the divine right of kings by arguing that the state was like a family and as such, English Kings were effectively the fathers of their subjects. This questionable political rationale enabled men to start dominating women and controlling wealth The white North American political elite and leadership accepted this sense of entitlement and continued to develop and implement policies using this theory. Not only did they not recognize the rights of Indigenous or Black people, but they also adopted policies that made


white women domesticated homemakers who had no suffrage and were compelled to do the will of their husbands, managing the home, and raising children.

In the 20th century, Indigenous women in places like Seneca Falls arguably had far less power than their ancestors enjoyed in the late 1500s. In 1590 some 250 women from across the Seneca, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Cayuga Nations met at Seneca Falls to call for peace as war raged between their peoples. These Haudenosaunee women weren’t powerless activists railing against male authority. Far from it, they belonged to communities where they already wielded significant control, as they had done for generations. By the 1600s, these Indigenous women did secure veto power over any future wars. (Extracted from Angela Saini’s book, The Patriarchs, The Origins of Inequalities.)

Policies of the past benefitted settlers to the detriment of the people of the land. And they also helped men to the detriment of all women. Although there has been improvement in the last few decades, male gender behaviour still affects all women across Canada.

Imagine if a few thousand members of society decided to be more open-minded and sided with the need for a behavioural change toward disparities, racism, and gender inequalities. The net result across Canada would be greater harmony, reduced poverty, new opportunities for women in the business sector, and increased GDP.

The time has come for change. We don’t believe that entrepreneurship and business leadership should be the primary preserve of men Numerous studies demonstrate that companies owned by women or with women in leadership positions often do better than others.

Because of all of the above and more, we have created NIWEE, a small program that launched in 2022. If you are willing to make a difference and impact future careers, encouraging women to espouse a career as an entrepreneur or a business leader, we could use your help Here how:

o As an experienced business owner, you can share your experience with our prospective entrepreneurs as a speaker, business coach or mentor. Join us as a volunteer

o If you are a subject expert in early-stage funding, basic accounting, marketing, communications and sales, there is a need for you. Join us as a volunteer

o If you wish to be part of the discussion, become a NIWEE member, it’s free. Participates in events, online meetings, and webinars. Join Us as a Member

o Or if you wish to help in other ways, we would appreciate your donation to Please support our work. To Donate to Niwee.

Don’t forget to let us know what you think; join the discussion on Facebook.

Note: I have used AI as a research assistant.

$$$ Earn a Few Dollars with NIWEE

If you have an Entrepreneurship story you would like to share, please send it along with a clear photo of yourself and your name, address and phone number by e-mail to

This story could be about your personal experience as a business owner. Or it could be a short interview of a woman entrepreneur that you appreciate. -- By submitting your story, you are granting permission to use it and your photo in NIWEE’s Newsletter, on our website and/or in future special issue publications. Submission may be edited for style. If your article is published, you will be paid an amount of One Hundred and Fifty dollars ($150.00). No articles submitted will be returned because of potential submission volume.


Fact … The government of Canada reports that studies show that by advancing gender equality and women's economic participation, Canada could add up to $150 billion in GDP. Only 17% of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are owned by women. At the same time, Indigenous women own 23% of Indigenous businesses.

Do you have an Act of Kindness of your Own to Share? EARN more $$$

Please e-mail it, along with your name, address, phone number, and a clear photo of yourself to By submitting your Act of Kindness, you are granting permission to use it and your photo in NIWEE’s Newsletter, on our website and/or in future special issue publications. Submission may be edited for style. If your article is published, you will be paid an amount of Fifty dollars ($50.00). No articles submitted will be returned because of potential submission volume.


NIWEE’s ecosystem is accessible to Indigenous and non-Indigenous women. It brings together investors, educators, innovators, entrepreneurs, corporate partners, and allied organizations.

For NIWEE’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to thrive, everyone working within it start-up champions, loan providers, coworking space managers, chamber directors, and (importantly) entrepreneurs must be talking to each other.

Starting this fall and winter, NIWEE will produce a series of talks and panel discussions with experienced business owners and subject experts to encourage conversations.

We’ll talk shop, such as funding start-ups and early-stage businesses and we’ll discover what investors expect to have in place before starting a conversation with a young business, such as the sources of funds and exploring the type of Return-On-Investment expected.

We will also talk about “Leading with Vision.” “The Importance of Networking " and “Best Practices for Business Owners to Build their Networks.” And much more.

If you are interested in meeting like-minded entrepreneurs. Join NIWEE, its FREE and you will have access to all that content and more at no cost. As well you’ll have the opportunity to participate directly in the dialogue by sharing your thoughts.



NIWEE is now launching a continuous recruitment program. What brings us to that decision is the fact that we are looking to launch more than one cohort per year.

Consequently, we’ll contact all applicants interested in joining the program within three working days of our receipt of their application. Accepted candidates’ names will be placed on a short priority list.

Water represents the blood-life of mother earth; Air represents our dance in movement in the life cycle . .we give homage to the Sun . .Mishomis. (Grandfather) facing the East.

Artist: Clear Water Woman, Doreen Stevens

To contact NIWEE send an e-mail to


Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.