Arctic Inspiration Hubs

Arctic incubator-marketplaces that accelerate social innovation and entrepreneurship development amongst the Inuit in Nunavut.

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Inspire Nunavut

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $1mil - $5mil

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 50 - 100

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • Canada

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Canada: Igloolik, Pond Inlet, Iqaluit, Arviat, Baker Lake, Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay


Facebook URL

Twitter URL

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Lack of commercial space, high costs of commercial rent, and a large gap in business supports are barriers to most entrepreneurs in Nunavut. Additionally, a lack of basic education, access to resources required to run a business, unreliable regulatory structures, various personal barriers faced at home, high start-up costs, and lack of access to productivity tools all prevent local, small businesses to start, grow and thrive in the Arctic. Currently, there is more money flowing out of the community than flowing in.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

The Hubs will activate the entrepreneurial potential of remote Inuit communities and accelerate grassroots economic development in a way that is sustainable, culturally-relevant, and from within. The facility features affordable marketplace stalls made up of independent local businesses, supported by the business incubator. All tenants will have access to our business curriculum designed specifically for Nunavut, mentorship from experts, an online hub that connects all communities through a collaborative communication/training platform, and our incubation space which has all equipment and resources required to run a business. By providing all-encompassing support+space, tenants will have the opportunity to test, launch and grow low-risk, non-capital heavy ventures, injecting immense social and economic capacity within the community. Our for-profit grocery arm, Arctic Fresh, is a grocery service tackling food insecurity in Nunavut that will generate revenue from sales.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Inspire Nunavut has run 5 social enterprise accelerators across Nunavut, working with 55 young Inuit. Participants have achieved an 86% success rate, successfully opening 31 unique businesses. Many of those who have not started a business have gained valuable employment or returned to school. This fall, we have expanded to two additional communities and are on track to work with an additional 20 entrepreneurs. One of our latest entrepreneurs to graduate the program, Chelsey, who never dreamed of being a business owner, sold over $10,000 worth of handmade, traditional parkas in her first day of operations. With each Hub that we open across Nunavut we expect to create 20 new businesses and 50 new jobs, each year. In regards to Arctic Fresh, our grocery arm, we have generated over $500,000 in revenue within its first year, which has mostly consisted of testing and setting up operations.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

The Hubs will be fully self-sustainable after year one, and will operate as social enterprises. We will run profit generating activities that will cover costs, and run programming that will maximize social impact. Revenue and profit will be generated through, Arctic Fresh grocery sales, training contracts from government, natural resources companies and Inuit organizations, rental of eight private office spaces for local organizations, rental of tables, kiosks and storefronts for local entrepreneurs, memberships to be a part of the incubator. The goal of the hubs is to create an entrepreneurial community where residents can collaborate, share resources and learn the necessary skills to ensure long-term success. Our estimated budget distribution is 80% earned income and 20% gov contribution

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Our unique VP is the use of social R&D and human-centered design thinking when crafting our solution. Instead of applying models that are successful in southern Canada or elsewhere, we worked closely with local government, business owners, and program participants in order to tailor a solution to fit their needs. As culture, value, and way of life differ greatly from community to community, we co-create our program with each group of participants and and plan to do the same with the Hubs.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Before the 1950s and devastating government interventions (i.e. residential school, dog killings), Inuit were self-sufficient and survived for thousands of years with a culture based on hunting, cooperation, environmental sustainability and sophisticated technology. In our modern wage economy, the government and big business has created a reliance on the south. We asked local youth who were very well informed on the gaps in their communities, how they’d fix things, and their response was to petition the government since business was for the individualistic and money hungry. When we asked about social enterprise, we learned that the values and principles of it were exactly in line with Inuit culture and values. Thus, we set off to use human centered design thinking to develop a solution to help youth build a grass roots Inuit-owned economic foundation, that is rooted in culture.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others

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Photo of Allison Archambault

Hi Sam, This is a really well-written overview with some excellent data and great energy. I particularly appreciated the aha moment and the deep value of the culture as the basis for your solution. Well done!

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