The Indigee 2 project is one of the unique projects in the Barents region due to its relevance both on regional and international levels of cooperation. The project includes indigenous participants from Saami, Nenets, Veps and Komi communities in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, who set up and develop businesses closely related to indigenous culture and traditions. Many kinds of traditional activities are represented in the project: handicraft, reindeer herding, hunting and fishing but also new forms such as tourism, modern design, arts and performance, web and information technology.
The idea of Indigee 2 is based on the principles of strengthening regional development by means of contributing to economic development of indigenous communities in these regions. The project provides opportunities for indigenous peoples to achieve financial independence through entrepreneurship. The Indigee 2 project gathers young indigenous entrepreneurs from all over the Barents region. The first Indigenous Entrepreneurship project was initiated in 2010.
Thus Indigee 2 is based on the best practices and new methods worked out during the first Indigee project. The evaluation of the first phase of the project shows highly successful results, i.e. that 47% of participants had clearly increased their income/profits as a result of their participation in the Indigee project; all of the participants stated that they had increased their business competence; 45% had established an enterprise; 57% had started to sell a new product or service; 47% had launched a concrete cross-border business cooperation; 69% had set up concrete cooperation with another Indigee participant as a result of their participation in the project.
The research-based Indigee concept allows to find out the most effective model for development of the participants and to improve the strategy of the project based on evaluation updates and results of the project activities such as workshops, conferences and individual training. It means that the Indigee concept only improves in the long run!
One of the main specifics of the Indigee concept is an individual approach to each participant in the project. Some of the projects, which have been running in the Barents region, were targeted at group training at the time Indigee takes focus on individual needs and challenges of each participant.
The project has offered an hour of business counselling every month during the whole project period, approximately one counselling per participant a month totalling around 900 hours. The participants had different needs for individual business counselling. Some of the participants did not have the need or time to have business counselling once a month while others asked for more time than was offered. The business counselling was not strictly shared according to the number of participants, rather allocated according to their needs.
Apart from the mentioned, participants were to complete home assignments, participate in business fairs arranged by the project and go through final Indigee “Dragon’s Den” contest. The jury is represented by 6 successful entrepreneurs from the four countries of the Barents region, who evaluated the participant’s progress. The winner of Indigee “Dragon’s Den” received the prize of services provided by Indigee project necessary for development of winner’s enterprise equaling € 2000. The winner 2014 is Elle Máret Valkeapää, Sámi Silver designer from Inari, Finland! We wish her luck on her way to developing her own business!
The Indigee 2 Indigenous Entrepreneurship project will be completed on 30th June 2014. The final evaluation of the project results and progress of participants from all four Barents countries involved in the project will be available upon completion of the Indigee 2 project. However, with growing importance of the Arctic regions and development of their indigenous peoples, the opportunity and resources for starting the Indigee Arctic - Arctic Indigenous Entrepreneurship project is regarded as future direction of the next phase of the Indigee programme!
Indigee has become a well-known project due to its effective results. It is supported by the Foreign Ministries of member states of Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden.
More information about the Indigee Indigenous Entrepreneurship project you can find on our web-page: www.indigee.org, and on the web-page of the BEAC/featured projects/.
on behalf of
The Indigee project team
Article by Anna Afanasyeva
The Indigee project is coordinated at the International Barents Secretariat by Anna Afanasyeva, Indigenous Peoples Adviser, in Kirkenes, Norway. In spring 2013 she defended the Master of Philosophy in Indigenous Studies at the Arctic University of Tromsø. She worked earlier as Senior Executive Officer in the Secretariat of the Steering Committee for the “Children and Youth at Risk” - (CYAR) programme aimed at bilateral cooperation between Russia and Norway in the sphere of youth’s and children’s welfare and wellbeing. Since 2006 she has been involved in various project-related activities in the North European region that concerned indigenous peoples’ issues and international cooperation.