II. Indigenous Entrepreneurship

Module Overview

While often viewed as fundamentally incompatible with Western-style capitalism, Indigenous approaches to business and new venture creation have many benefits and are shown to be more conducive to generating certain resources that are highly valued by entrepreneurs and key attributes to long-term business success. This module will explore how Indigenous entrepreneurship differs from mainstream practices and how the influence of culture, values and community in organizations can foster a more respectful, cohesive, and harmonious socio-economic environment.

Recommended Readings

  • Colbourne, R. (2017). Indigenous entrepreneurship and hybrid ventures. In Corbett, A. and Katz, J. (Eds), Perspectives and Approaches to Blended Value Entrepreneurship: Advances in Entrepreneurship, Firm Emergence and Growth, Emerald Publishing, Bingley. – Read 93-128 & 139-142
  • Verbos, A. & Humphries, M. (2013). A Native American Relational Ethic: An Indigenous Perspective on Teaching Human Responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics. 123. 10.1007/s10551-013-1790-3.

How to Approach This Module

Students should approach this module with open minds and hearts, setting aside preconceived notions of Indigenous life, culture, and history. Before embarking on this module, you should watch the video titled, Etuaptmumk: Two-Eyed Seeing to gain a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the differences between Indigenous and Western worldviews and ways of being.

Why Are You Doing the Readings and Watching the Videos?

Over the tens of thousands of years that Indigenous peoples have inhabited these lands, they have developed ways of being with the land and with each other. These ways of being fostered healthy communities and relationships with each other and with the land and are grounded in their culture and traditional teachings. To this day, these teachings are ingrained in the very DNA of many Indigenous businesses and continue to guide decision making at every level of these organizations. In doing so, these businesses are able to foster a strong organizational culture and a holistic, egalitarian and collectivist mindset and the influence of Indigenous culture and values in organizations create a more respectful and harmonious work environment

A lot can be learned from cultures and nations outside of those most often featured in the business literature. This module will not only provide you with information on a unique and underacknowledged style of leadership and approach to business, but also to open your heart and mind to new ways of doing business.

In Summary

Two-Eyed Seeing refers to learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, and from the other eye with the strengths of Western knowledges and ways of knowing. It asks that we see through both lenses simultaneously because there is value in seeing things differently. This simple idea is at the heart of achieving true trans-cultural collaboration because embedded within this idea are principles of reciprocity, mutual accountability, and co-learning.

Indigenous entrepreneurship is an emerging field in the entrepreneurship literature that is increasingly being recognized for its collectivist, egalitarian and holistic approach. It is best characterized by its emphasis on community, integration of culture, accountability to multiple stakeholders, and strong connection to the land. This unique approach to new venture creation has been honed since time immemorial and through hundreds of years of state violence and oppression. These sacred teachings, traditions and learned wisdom will play a vital role in improving the lives of Indigenous peoples, communities, and nations through entrepreneurial enterprise.

Canada is home to 1.6 million Indigenous people and well over 600 Indigenous communities. Indigenous entrepreneurs remain one of the fastest growing demographics of entrepreneurs in Canada and the Indigenous economy has the potential to reach $100 billion in the coming years. Contemporary Indigenous entrepreneurs alter traditional patterns of behavior and utilize scarce resources in the pursuit of self determination and economic sustainability by self employment. They continue to create opportunities for wealth and employment in some of Canada’s most impoverished regions and play an important role in strengthening the country’s social fabric.

Upon completion of eLearning Module 2 students will have a basic understanding of:

  • The value of alternative approaches to business and new venture creation and the value of diversity of thought and experience when shaping a business.
  • The unique and under-acknowledged styles of entrepreneurship practiced by Indigenous entrepreneurs in Canada.
  • The benefits of Indigenous management structures and leadership styles in fostering a holistic mindset and collectivist work environment.
  • How Indigenous cultural values, knowledges and ways of being helped shape business practices in many Indigenous communities.

Copyright Information

Except where otherwise indicated:

Creative Commons License
These videos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

CC BY-NC-ND: This license allows reusers to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator.

CC BY-NC-ND includes the following elements:

  • BY image – Credit must be given to the creator
  • NC image – Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted
  • ND image – No derivatives or adaptations of the work are permitted


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Indigenous Entrepreneurship Copyright © 2022 by Michael Mihalicz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book


Comments are closed.