Nunavut is open for business

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Some people who toil miserably in office cubicles may look at business ownership as the cure for all workplace ills.

Then they boldly strike out on entrepreneurial ventures and learn the first incontrovertible truth about working for yourself: it’s hard.

The endless hours, the costs, the regulations, the challenge of finding the right staff and the risks are just a few of the reasons most people steer clear of the entrepreneurial path.

As the founder of a business, you will find that anything and everything is your responsibility. You will oversee production, distribution, marketing, sales and turning a profit. You’ll have to manage employees and vendors and pesky details like accounting, taxes and insurance.

But if running a small business in most places requires nerves of steel, doing so in a vast, remote and sparsely populated area must require nerves of something much harder.
Nunavut entrepreneurs have to contend with a whole slew of unique challenges. There’s the incredible cost of doing business up here, the spotty internet, the fact that most of your customers don’t have money to burn and the logistical challenges of operating in a place with few roads.

Maybe that’s why relatively few Nunavummiut take that leap. According to a Statistics Canada report, there were about 32 businesses for every thousand people in the country in 2015 but in Nunavut, there were only about 13 businesses per thousand.

But for the hardy entrepreneur with a spirit of adventure and a taste for exploring wildly different opportunities, the rewards of making a go of it here can far outweigh any sacrifice of personal comfort.

And there’s plenty of help.

There’s the Department of Economic Development and Transportation’s Small Business Support Program, which provides funding to help small and medium-sized businesses securing everything from marketing to training.

There’s the Nunavut Business Credit Corporation, which offers up to $1,000,000 in debt financing to small and medium-sized businesses.

There are business development centres in communities across the territory, staffed by people eager to turn your idea into a reality.

Then there’s the Atuqtuarvik Corporation, which provides venture debt financing to small and medium-sized Inuit-owned businesses.

There are also good times on the horizon. The latest report from the Conference Board of Canada forecasts that Nunavut’s economy will continue to grow at an average rate of 9.2 per cent over the next five years thanks to a growing mining sector, a budding commercial fishing industry and tourism.

These growing industries are sure to need many small businesses to keep them healthy. So take heart entrepreneurial Nunavummiut, good times are coming.