In December 2019, the ThriveNorth program successfully completed its five-year mandate. Managed by Futurpreneur Canada, the program helped young entrepreneurs in Northern B.C. launch and grow their businesses by connecting them with resources, financing and mentorship.
After making the difficult decision to take the next step in her journey, Katy Carr shares her insights and experiences from the past three years as the ThriveNorth Community Coordinator.
I started with ThriveNorth three years ago as a rookie to economic development and northern BC, and as I had always lived in cities, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turned out, starting with ThriveNorth right away introduced me to an incredible community and I quickly became connected to some amazing entrepreneurs, community partners and organizations.
I quickly realized how impactful the ThriveNorth initiative was when I met Nadia, an entrepreneur who owns and operates Much Gusto Catering. I met Nadia and her husband Frank during one of our first Business Planning Workshops in Prince Rupert in late 2015. They were playing with the idea of Nadia opening her own food truck and working on a business plan. Fast forward six months and Nadia had not only opened Mucho Gusto, but she had paired with a local brewery and business was booming. She has since expanded her business to include catering and cooking classes, and her popularity continues to grow. It was incredible to watch someone shift their idea into a living, breathing business and it struck me how vital small businesses are to the local community and economy. Nadia’s story is one of many and I have been grateful to bear witness to so many entrepreneurs over the last three years.
ThriveNorth has always placed the people we work for in the center of what we do. We have worked hard to support communities outside of the larger centers and who are traditionally overlooked by other lending institutions. It has become obvious to me how naturally entrepreneurship pairs with Indigenous ways of being, and as a result of working with people who are connected to their communities, many of our Indigenous entrepreneurs are driven by the want to help others.
I have also had the privilege of spending time in remote Indigenous communities like Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla and in the communities of the Nass Valley. Being a visitor in these places has helped me learn about the deep culture and history that exists in the region and connect with entrepreneurs who are committed to supporting their communities.
Not only was I lucky enough to watch entrepreneurs pursue their passions, I was also able to witness their journey through the ThriveNorth Business Challenge every year. The Challenge is a difficult process that pushes entrepreneurs to move past their fears and help them grow. Last year I watched one of the contestants work through nervousness and fears of public speaking in the days before the final event. Kevin later went on to win the $10,000 prize in his category. It was an incredible moment of growth for him and I felt grateful that ThriveNorth organizes this event every year.
One of the greatest gifts I will be taking with me is a newfound confidence in my own entrepreneurial dreams. Over the past two years I have been working on my M Ed in Counselling with the hopes of one day opening my own practice.
Before joining Futurpreneur, I thought entrepreneurial dreams were only reserved for those with an MBA and a grounding in the corporate world. I couldn’t have been more wrong about this and working alongside such dedicated and passionate entrepreneurs has enabled me to realize my own dreams. I have also been incredibly lucky to work with a team I now call friends.
The amazing Joanne and Kendra make up the dream team that supports ThriveNorth and have been such a joy to work alongside. Outside of the ThriveNorth team, the regional team in Vancouver have become a pseudo family and I have loved being a part of their work community.
Thank you for such an incredible three years!