Indigenous-run businesses find success through new program

In spite of having to switch to online training due to COVID-19, Kwe-Biz has been successful in helping Indigenous women entrepreneurs.

When Micky Colton began her business, Horse Sense, she had just retired from a 30-year career as a pilot in the air force.

“Horse sense is an equine wellness business,” Colton said.

“I use my horses to help people interact and to become authentic and find their emotions.”

After starting the business near Picton, Ont. east of Toronto, she soon found out she needed some expertise in creating a business plan and how to look after finances. That’s when she joined Kwe-Biz.

Kwe-Biz  is a program designed to support Indigenous women entrepreneurs. It got off to a slow start earlier this year due to COVID-19, but it’s now bursting at the seams due to its success.

“This is just giving me incredible exposure and training on how to do those kinds of things. It’s been great,” Colton said while giving a tour to Shyra Barberstock, the brains behind Kwe-Biz.

“It’s been challenging for Indigenous women entrepreneurs and for all the entrepreneurs,” Barberstock said.

Over the past three months, Barberstock has helped Colton and nine other Indigenous entrepreneurs in achieving their business goals through online training and mentorship programs.

She said in spite of having to switch to online training due to COVID-19, the program has been successful.

“It’s also showed a lot of resilience some of the women were sharing that with COVID, with a bit of a slow-down time it’s also given them time to be able to work on their business so they’re spending more time strategizing working on it.”

But for Colton and Horse Sense, the pandemic has had the opposite effect.

“COVID has actually driven people out into nature,” she said. “People are so trapped because of the disease that it’s driven them into nature. My business is really done in mostly the outside, it’s done in nature. It has been an advantage in a weird way for me.”

Barberstock said Kwe-Biz will be accepting a new round of applications from aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs next April

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