by Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Mallory Yawnghwe, at the age of 35 years has risen to the top ranks as one of Alberta’s top Cree entrepreneurs. Yawnghwe is from Saddle Lake Cree Nation and is on a mission to build up Indigenous Box Inc. to promote and elevate the good work being done by Indigenous entrepreneurs.
The company champions Indigenous people’s true legacy. “Our ingenuity; our resourcefulness; our industriousness; our intentionality; our purposefulness; our ability; our cooperation; our greatness.”
Yawnghwe is looking to continue to collaborate and build more bridges with other businesses.
Yawnghwe explained to ANNews that there is much to come in the world of Indigenous Business. “I mean we are the fastest-growing, youngest population in this country and starting businesses nine times the national average,” she said.
“Just imagine where we are going to be ten years from now.”
She describes herself as a self-starter, results-driven entrepreneur who comes from a family of helpers.
“I do my best to take the lead on any project or challenge I create. At my core, I am a nerd with a passion and love for learning,” said Yawnghwe.
She said she takes pride in offering a seasonal subscription box and corporate gifting service that allows the company to champion and promote Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Turtle Island.
She explained that the concept came from her love for supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses. Before Indigenous Box, she created websites in her spare time for Indigenous entrepreneurs or provided guidance and support for business plans and startups. She took it one step further and decided to build a model where she can apply all her knowledge and skills to create a place that champions Indigenous people in a good way. A business that is representative of Indigenous people but acts as a bridge between the two worlds.
“I didn’t see anything out there that was created from us, with us in mind but for everyone to enjoy so I created it.”
“I mentioned that I come from a family of helpers. I truly believe that my role in the world of Indigenous Business comes from my role as a helper. My dad, Peter Jackson is one of my greatest teachers,” said Yawnghwe. “All my life, he ensured that what we did must also benefit those around us.”
She added that her father taught her the responsibility to share in the abundance and opportunity. “Knowledge is my abundance. I am driven to continuously learn and I love to share what I know.”
In her final year of the Supply Chain Program at MacEwan University, she explained, “I had my daughter over the reading week break and when I returned, I remember being on campus and realizing that my journey is more than just my story. With each bit of space we reclaim as Indigenous peoples, it will help our children and their children to walk with a bit more ease through these two worlds they will come to know. Being aware of my impact on future generations is what drives me and what helps me maintain my role as a helper in the world of Indigenous Business.”
She ends the interview with words of advice for other Cree entrepreneurs: “Don’t be afraid to take up space.”
“Don’t think you have to become an expert in everything,” she concluded. “Just start. The best way to learn about business is to be in business.”