Business Profiles

Supporting self-determination and resilience through entrepreneurship


Futurpreneur is helping break down barriers

Futurpreneur has been helping the country’s young aspiring entrepreneurs realize their business dreams through funding and mentorship since its inception 26 years ago. The organization has also created a new program to support young, Indigenous potential entrepreneurs looking to start their own ventures.

The Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program (IESP) is designed to empower young aspiring Indigenous Entrepreneurs with the guidance, mentoring, and financing needed to start and grow small businesses. The program is ready to take on the unique circumstances that Indigenous start-ups face.

With direction from a Cree-Saulteaux woman, Holly Atjecoutay, and the support of six dynamic team members—Melissa Gladue, Erica Maness, April Massie, Jason McDonald, Elissa Parker, and Noah Wilson—who understand entrepreneurship and Indigenous lived experience, the program is supporting young Indigenous entrepreneurs launch successful small businesses across the country. 

Gladue is a Nêhiyaw-iskwêw (Cree woman) and proud member of Saddle Lake Cree Nation in northern Alberta. Now working in Amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton) in Treaty 6 territory, her message to the future generation of Indigenous entrepreneurs is a simple one. “The future is Indigenous! We will become a healed, economically prosperous nation, building upon the foundations of our ancestors who were entrepreneurs since time immemorial.”

Maness, an Ojibwe woman from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation in southwestern Ontario, saw entrepreneurship at an early age in her own family, and opened her first business in her twenties. Now, she works to support others like her on the road to business ownership. “Entrepreneurship allows you to create your own opportunities and use your creativity to establish a vision for your life,” she says. “Indigenous entrepreneurship is the path for Indigenous people towards a successful, more self-reliant future. It takes determination to face and overcome the obstacles and challenges that come up along the journey.”

Massie was born and raised in Red Deer, Alta. and is a proud member of the Métis Nation Alberta. April earned her Bachelor of Business degree at Mount Royal University. She utilizes over 10 years of her own entrepreneurial experience to help achieve her objective of connecting Indigenous entrepreneurs to valuable resources. Her favorite part of her role at Futurpreneur is being able to connect and engage with entrepreneurs in their business development phase. “I love working with entrepreneurs and helping them develop their exciting ideas and helping them get to that “ah hah” moment,” she says.

A member of Akwesasne Mohawk Territory in Ontario, McDonald spent years of his professional life assisting Indigenous people with disabilities. He has now turned his attention to helping Indigenous people create their own economic opportunities through start-up businesses. His grandmother was a world-renowned basket maker with her work featured in museums including the Smithsonian. “Our culture shows entrepreneurship is not new to Indigenous people,” he says. “Futurpreneur is assisting in carrying on what has been in our culture for many generations.” 

Parker, a member of the Piapot First Nation in in Treaty 4 Territory in Saskatchewan, agrees with McDonald. She sees the value that comes from cultivating entrepreneurship in the Indigenous community. “It means shining a spotlight on the creative skillset, trades, and strong work ethic of our people. It also means giving them the platform they need to reach their full potential. The way we showcase their efforts to reach the right audience just looks a bit different today.”

Wilson is a Cree man from Peguis First Nation with French and Ukrainian heritage on his mother’s side of the family. A graduate of the University of Manitoba, he spent several years in finance before joining Futurpreneur. For him, Indigenous entrepreneurship can do more than just create an opportunity for a founder. “For me, I often say that Indigenous entrepreneurship is a pathway for the resurgence of self-determining Indigenous economies, thriving Indigenous communities, and hopeful Indigenous Peoples,” he says. 

The team at Futurpreneur believes in the talent and power of young Indigenous entrepreneurs. With their expertise and experience, and the Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program, the sky is the limit.

Learn more about the Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program at

1 800 464 2923


Highlights from Manitoba business

Stay informed on breaking news, announcements and more right here.