Membertou First Nation indigenous people succeeding as entrepreneurs

Purpose
This paper seeks to link the extraordinary success of an aboriginal community called Membertou First Nation to the literature of entrepreneurship and small‐ and medium‐sized enterprises.

Design/methodology/approach
The paper recounts the remarkable case of the people of Membertou First Nation who have been very successful in the area of economic development. It then considers their objective to further promote entrepreneurship within in the community.

Findings
The literature informs us that fast growing firms contribute disproportionately to job creation, wealth creation, and longer term support systems of local economies. The paper suggests that some of the unique circumstances that would appear to favor efforts to raise rates of new firm formation may ultimately constrain growth.

Research limitations/implications
The findings are limited by the unique circumstances operating within Canada and may not apply to other situations. Moreover, as Membertou First Nation is an urban‐based reserve it faces a different set of opportunities and constraints than rural‐based communities within Canada.

Originality/value
At one level, the story of Membertou First Nation is inspirational. But, this paper identifies some of the unique challenges and barriers faced by First Nations people pursuing opportunities as entrepreneurs. Challenges include issues of political stability; the need to respect the value placed upon community, conservation and sustainability by the culture the limited access to traditional sources of capital and other possible barriers. It attempts to foresee some potential barriers and underscore the real complexity of issues that arise when development and entrepreneurship are linked.

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