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.
Lucy started All Nations Driving Academy in response to the transportation challenges and barriers facing many First Nations communities in Northern B.C. By equipping local community members with the tools to own and operate local driving schools, All Nations Driving Academy provides a ripple effect solution that simultaneously supports and facilitates local economic and community development.
“I knew this wasn’t about a driver’s licence. This was about providing for families, feeling value in your self-worth and setting your life on a new course. It was bigger than what I had imagined by way of what was important not to your wallet but to your heart.”
– Lucy Sager, on launching All Nations Driving Academy
You can learn more about Lucy Sager in her first ThriveNorth feature here, and read on to hear how her business has grown and find out about her road to success at the 2019 ThriveNorth Business Challenge.
Congratulations on your win at the 2019 ThriveNorth Business Challenge! How did you find the experience?
The Business Challenge is a good time to wear your heart on your sleeve.
A lot of times we get so wrapped up in the execution of our work that we don’t share with others what we are doing or why we are doing it. The Challenge provided a good platform to take the time to make others aware and to find potential new support within a broader community.
It was great to make new contacts and learn about the other creative work that’s happening in rural B.C.
How did you prepare for the event?
Preparing for the challenge allowed me to tighten up my story. It also forced me to sit down and think about not only what is important to me, but what would resonate with others when learning about our work. I often don’t take the time to sit still so this was needed.
Were you nervous about the finals?
I think at any stage of your business when you’re telling your story in your own hometown you wonder if they will they like it, whether will they “get” it, and that at your core it can’t matter.
My business is about addressing a problem, and in the process we’ve connected with non-profits and governments in a way I didn’t expect.
Having won brought us a level of exposure we didn’t have before, for which I’m very grateful, and it’s also a nice validation that others see the same importance in what we’re doing.
How has your business evolved, from launch to now?
From the beginning to now our business continues to evolve in that it’s really not just about driving. In essence, this business has allowed us to connect communities to basic and fundamental needs such as healthcare, safety, nutrition and family. In the beginning the Driving Academy focused on providing a means to get to work, but it seems now that the outcome is so much more.
How will winning the Business Challenge help you and your business?
The prize money will be used to develop the Graduated Licence Student manuals. Right now we make these one at a time and it is labour intensive. Working with a designer and printer, we’ll be able to lower our costs, reduce time and come up with a more professional product.
These student manuals will also be made available to other Indigenous-owned driving schools, which will ensure a better learning experience for students and also provide a greater certainty in the consistency of course delivery.
What impact do you hope your business will have on your community?
The impact we’re hoping to have is about creating mobility for Indigenous communities in British Columbia. Many communities continue to identify a lack of driver’s licence as the number one barrier to employment. Supporting communities to have their own school creates employment on reserves, increases access to the actual driver training, and ensures individuals aren’t without a licence.
Is there anything you learned from the experience of the Business Challenge that you weren’t expecting?
Throughout this process I was caught off-guard on the night of the finals with a difficult conversation. I was reminded that not everyone will catch your vision or fall in love with your mission and that’s okay. You know what needs to be done and you should put your head down and love that you are doing the thing the world needs most. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do great work.
Why should others consider the entrepreneur life?
Why entrepreneurship? Because you can move as fast as you choose to. You’re in control of how fast you go…and that’s an incredible gift! I believe the world is changed by those who execute and the world desperately needs more doers to step up.