JEDI’s next Plenary is Feb 26th - 27th at the Delta Fredericton. The theme of February’s Plenary is Seizing Opportunities: Turning Challenges into Innovation and Partnerships for Aboriginal Entrepreneurs.
JEDI’s keynote speaker is Kendal Netmaker, founder of Neechie Gear, a sports apparel company that is committed to giving a portion of proceeds to help underprivileged kids play sports. Kendal is very familiar with the concept of turning challenges into innovation.
Kendal’s childhood was not that different from many other Aboriginal kids. He was brought up in a single parent family and finances were tight. There was no money for organized sports and even if they could afford the fees, there was no way for Kendal to get to the practices and games. That was until one day, when the generosity of a friend’s family changed the direction of his life by paying for Kendal to play sports.
Now Kendal has a great business and gives back to the underprivileged youth in his community. “Not many brand names are doing what we are doing,” said Kendal. “Neechie Gear’s competitive edge is giving back to the community, as well as, my personal story. Telling a story is the most impactful thing and it stays with people for a long time.”
Becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t a direct route for Kendal. It started with playing organized sports, next he went to university to study education, and then he came up with a business idea, entered a competition and won. Kendal sacrificed to make things succeed. When he first started out, he didn’t take a paycheque. “Most people don’t have money to start a company but there are always ways around it. Start small and as you grow you can reinvest the money back into your company to build it.”
When asked what makes a successful entrepreneur, Kendal replied, “I think you have to be a people person. Even if you are shy you have to force yourself to put yourself out there. The more you do it, the more confidence you will gain. People skills can be learned as long as you are willing to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. The possibilities are endless that way.”
Kendal also said, “You have to get along with everyone even if you don’t care for a person. You have to let your ego go. You have to build as many relationships as possible.”
Kendal invites everyone to join us at the Plenary. He’s sure his story will inspire people and motivate them to make changes in their community and do what they want to do with their lives.
If you are an Aboriginal entrepreneur or thinking about starting your own business, this event is for you.