Aboriginal business future probed

A SFU business school is researching the region’s young aboriginal businesspeople

  • Mar. 3, 2014 7:00 a.m.

A SFU business school is researching the region’s young aboriginal businesspeople.

“For entrepreneurs below 40, we’re trying to get an idea of the supports that are in place and the challenges individuals face,” says Areef Abraham, a consultant working with the Beedie School of Business.

“Typically, there might be an individual who has an idea, but no money. Let’s say someone wants to open a store and there are people who will want to take that risk for their daily bread. If they want to test that, what support is available. What is the entry point and at what point can they launch their business,” Abraham continued.

Thanks to the area’s improving economy, there’s more opportunity than ever before for young aboriginal people to open businesses, he added.

“The prospect for business ownership is a whole new area.”

Developing a business class also has benefits to the broader community, he said.

“I really believe it’s vital to the stability of a community.”

Abraham has in the past worked with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation which offers assistance to young entrepreneurs in development business plans, mentors when a business starts up and financing to help set up a business.

The Beedie School of Business has experience in offering programs for people in the region. It has three people from the area now enrolled in an Executive Master of Business Administration in Aboriginal and Business Leadership through the Segal Graduate School.

This program was first offered in 2012 and is two and half years long involving a combination of concentrated classroom time in Vancouver augmented by home studies.

Mark Selman, the MBA program’s director, also says the school is interested in offering a regional MBA program.

This one would be three to four years of part time studies and instead of concentrated class time in Vancouver, instructors would travel to the northwest and teach in several locations. Home studies would also be necessary.

“We think there’s an appetite on the part of corporations who want to train and then retain their people here,”  said Selman.