Entrepreneurs will have the chance to learn how to handle the essentials of operating a small business or non-profit as the Iqaluit Chamber of Commerce makes its first foray into Small Business Week. The week-long event, scheduled for Sept 16 to 21, takes place across the country.

Iqaluit Chamber of Commerce member Francois Fortin takes the lead on organizing Small Business Week, a week of workshops taking place Sept. 16 to 21 in the capital geared toward helping small-business owners and non-profits thrive. photo courtesy of Francois Fortin

“The Iqaluit Chamber of Commerce, led by (member) Francois Fortin, has been working hard to present a fantastic week of workshops and events focused on helping our small businesses in Iqaluit,” said president Matthew Clark.

Fortin, a small-business owner since January, has lined up a series of promising workshops.

He said the chamber specifically targeted small-business owners, small entrepreneurs and starters, as well as non-profits, because it’s the crowd that needs the most training and support.

“And it’s also probably the biggest in terms of demography,” he adds. “It’s the best to target, strategically, to grow the city, to do economic development.”

Nationally, a small business is fewer than 100 employees, which would account for most businesses in the territory. In Nunavut, the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission, in accordance with new territorial legislation, defines a small business as one having fewer than 20 employees, and that’s including a worker who is self-employed.

Fortin said even if it’s helping with basics, the workshops will be of great value.

“For example, the one’s by Margaret Hollis, she did offer them earlier in the year in partnership with the Law Society – Basics of Contracts and Competing for Government Contracts – and it was really not well-advertised so there were very few participants,” said Fortin.

“But I did personally attend and they were really amazing in terms of value. When you’re an entrepreneur, you kind of learn the basics of contracts and tenders by yourself, by trying to do it and by picking up information here and there.”

But he says getting the information straight from a commercial lawyer provides the entrepreneur with everything they need on what sort of contract should be used and what should be in a contract.

“It really gives you the confidence to deal with those things. Same with tenders and how to compete for government contracts. It seems basic but when there’s someone that’s specialized in working with this for decades who tells you where to look and what to pay attention to and how to read between the lines, it’s really valuable information,” he said.

Other workshops are: Basics of Banking, Basics of Business Accounting, Basic Business Structures, Grow Your Business, and Taking Pictures of Your Artwork – with that one offered in conjunction with the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association.

Events kick off with a meet-and-greet the evening of the 16th, with workshops Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening, with the artwork session scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

By Oct. 10, half the workshops were already full.

“We want to make the groups for each workshop 12 maximum. We want to avoid the classroom experience where people just show up to eat knowledge blindly. We want to create a setting where people can exchange and share their own experiences, and in that way learn even more,” he said, adding if some workshops proved very popular there might be the opportunity to repeat them.

The week’s activities will include the resumption of the Breakfast Speaker Series, which paused for the summer.

“For this breakfast we have focused on small business, and we have invited a panel of three guest speakers, including Glen Cousins, executive director with Kakivak Association, Kathleen Gomes, executive director with FNBC (First Nations Bank of Canada), and Margaret Hollis, with Hollis Law,” said Clark.

“These speakers will speak on their area of expertise, and the floor will be open for questions from the audience.”

That event takes place Oct. 18 at the Qajuqturvik Society Food Centre, bright and early at 7 a.m.

“There will be no charge for this breakfast,” said Clark, adding the GN’s Department of Economic Development and Transportation is the sponsor.

Finally, one-on-one sessions and working time with experts will be available all day Saturday.

Pre-register for events by contacting the chamber at iqaluitchamber@gmail.com or via its Facebook page.

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...