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.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we’re introducing some of the Futurpreneur women who are working to build the future of Canada, like ThriveNorth Project Manager Joanne Norris.


Passion for small business


With a background in International Development and extensive experience as a gender business expert in island and regional economies across South and Southeast Asia, Ukraine and Mexico, Joanne’s passion for understanding and serving small business communities drives the success and impact of her work at Futurpreneur.


Joanne joined the team in 2014 to explore opportunities for more rural, remote and indigenous young people in Canada. As Project Manager, Joanne led the development of the ThriveNorth initiative. Now entering its fifth year, the initiative is dedicated to empowering and enhancing entrepreneurship opportunities for young people in Northern B.C.


“I get a lot of inspiration from the entrepreneurs that we serve. I love what happens when people in these smaller communities understand what supports actually exist in Canada and in B.C.” says Joanne.


“And I do really get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people develop businesses that often start as a passion project. Not all of them do, but many of them do.”


Creating solutions


Specializing in thinking, developing and designing program solutions, Joanne works with the team to create pathways for young people to reach their potential.


“Part of our mission and mandate is to help lift up the young people in these communities, either by directing them to resources or creating training to equip them with a knowledge and understanding of some of the technical language and business processes.”


Joanne is an embodiment of our #howiLIFT movement, admired by her team for her entrepreneurial nature, open-mindedness and support. Likewise, Joanne credits the strength and passion of her team for motivating her every day.


“The people I work with are just really good people who are at Futurpreneur for the same reasons I am.”


Fun facts with Joanne


What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

The key thing for me around International Women’s Day is to celebrate women and all that we are, and just keep creating spaces and opportunities for women to shine, and also for men and women to move the dial together.


Who is Joanne outside of work?

I like to do hot yoga, I like to snowboard, camp, and be in the wilderness, and I like to thrift and go shopping with my daughter and girlfriends. I also like to cook. What I love to prepare is snacks and appetizers for entertaining, but I’m not a baker. My daughter had to basically become a baker to have sweets because I don’t bake!


What are you binge watching right now?

The Sopranos, Big Little Lies and This Is Us


If I had a second life…

I would want to do what Anthony Bourdain did – travel and talk to people about culture and food and politics.



Learn more about the upcoming ThriveNorth Business Challenge here

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