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Chamber organizes packed week of activities for entrepreneurs

Small Business Week is back for its second year of offerings intended to support, encourage and deepen the skills of Iqaluit's small business community, and that includes Iqalungmiut who may be thinking of starting a small business.

photo courtesy of Iqaluit Chamber of Commerce
The Baffin Business Development Corporation 's executive director Valerie Kosmenko offers the Basics of Business Planning workshop at the First Nations Bank during the 2017 Small Business Week organized by the Iqaluit Chamber of Commerce. Small Business Week kicks off the evening of Oct. 15 with a meet and greet at the Nunavut Brewing Company pub.

Iqaluit Chamber of Commerce member Francois Fortin once again took the organizational lead, and he says there are more planned activities than in 2017.

"It's a test. We'll see if people come. It's kind of inspired by similar events down south. There are a lot of speakers and a lot of events," said Fortin.

"There are more advanced workshops, and workshops like last year really targeting new and small businesses. The breakfasts and lunches are really for everyone."

Fortin says a survey from the chamber's first effort last year were all positive.

"And we know some people started their business officially or expanded their business. We know, for example, Baffin Business Development Corporation saw an increase in new clientele after the event," he said.

This year, the week kicks off with a meet and greet at Nunavut Brewing Company Oct. 15 between 5 and 8 p.m., which may include a tour of the brewery, after which come four days packed with learning opportunities.

Breakfast at the Qajuqturvik Food Centre Tuesday features Mayor Madeleine Redfern speaking on building Internet in Iqaluit and on Friday a group of speakers will address advocacy.

"We added lunches. We've never done that. More people could show up because it's during lunchtime and we'll serve lunch," said Fortin.

Three of four lunch speakers are confirmed, he said Oct. 9.

City economic development officer Gabrielle Morrill's Tuesday lunch talk is titled New Business Licence, while First Nations Bank manager Kathleen Gomes will address Basics of Banking. Thursday, Jennifer Lindell of Jenn 87 Hairstyling presents her story as a successful Inuk hairdresser and business owner.

"She's been in operation for a while, but she is expanding quite a bit. She'll be opening a new location," said Fortin.

Friday, president and owner of Innirvik Support Services Rhoda Cunningham will speak on the contents of her new book, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Practices in Entrepreneurship.

Cunningham offers an example of her material.

"The number one thing, I think, is tunnganarniq, which is being welcoming. So when a client comes into your office, they can feel the positive climate. That's one of the things that came out of the research I did with Iqaluit Inuit running businesses," she said.

Cunningham points out that including Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit values in business brings a heightened sense of social responsibility, which includes sharing knowledge, even educating customers.

The long-time Inuk business owner will have much more to share over lunch.

Beginning at 3 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, three workshops will be offered daily into the evening, including speed networking and speed counselling sessions.

Friday will feature a Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association workshop on digitizing portfolios. The week closes with an event led by chamber president Matthew Clark titled Celebrate What is Right with Iqaluit.

"We often talk about what are the challenges of doing business in the North, but there's also lots of good advantages and opportunities," said Fortin.

Another new development this year are the Travel Nunavut and Destination Nunavut events included on the schedule.

"It's a different event altogether but last year we didn't know we were conflicting with them. They do their AGM and workshops every year during small business week so instead of competing with them, we merged the two schedules," said Fortin.

"Their members are small businesses mainly, so we thought it was relevant."

Small Business Week also boasts a new event app. Registrants will have access to the app to track the schedule, create their own personal schedule, and network with other participants.

Those interested in tourism workshops are to register with Travel Nunavut, while those interested in Small Business Week workshops and other activities should register with the Iqaluit Chamber of Commerce.