Kendal Netmaker is one of Canada’s leading entrepreneurs and speakers, from Sweetgrass First Nation, SK. He grew up in poverty, raised by a hard-working single mother who cared for Kendal and his three siblings against the backdrop of a bleak economic landscape and few chances for improvement. But his life changed unexpectedly in fifth grade, when he befriended a young boy from South Africa, whose family provided the necessary funding for Kendal to take part in soccer. This opened up a whole other world for him that he would have never otherwise experienced. Two years later, when the family was relocating, they gave Kendal’s family their car; it was a life-changing gift that helped his mother access all kinds of basic necessities that had previously been difficult – and meant that Kendal and his sisters could now take part in after school sports. The incredible generosity of his childhood friend’s family inspired Kendal to give back when he launched his company, Neechie Gear – a lifestyle apparel brand that empowers youth through sports. A percentage of all Neechie Gear profits go toward funding sports programs for underprivileged youth.
While finishing two degrees from the University of Saskatchewan, Kendal worked on growing the brand, which was initially based out of Kendal’s small, one-bedroom apartment. After graduation, Kendal opened several pop-up stores and then eventually, an official headquarters for the company, in Saskatoon, SK. The brand is now sold to consumers across North America through exclusive retail partners and online.
To date, Kendal has founded and invested in 5 businesses, and won over 25 business awards, including runner-up at the YBI Global Entrepreneur of the Year. Kendal speaks professionally to thousands of people every year about motivation, leadership and the power of telling your story.
He lives with his wife and two children in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where he continues to run his company and provide mentoring and inspiration to others in the business community.
Kendal is on a mission to empower entrepreneurs and leaders around the globe by demonstrating that regardless of where you come from and what you have gone through in your life, you have the power to enact change. Become who you were born to be!
- 2010 1st Place in the Aboriginal Youth Idea Challenge Business Plan Competition
- 2011 B.Ed and B.A from the University of Saskatchewan
- 2011 $1500 winner in the Progress2Capital Business Plan Competition.
- 2011 NSBA Young Promising Entrepreneur Finalist
- 2011 One of thirty entrepreneurs selected to represent Canada at the G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit
- 2011 ACE (Enactus Canada) Saskatchewan Student Entrepreneur Provincial Champion
- 2011 Wilson Centre i3 Idea Challenge – $10,000 Winner
- 2011 CANDO Economic Developer of the Year – Aboriginal Private Sector Business Award
- 2012 Saskatoon’s Finest Entrepreneur Award
- 2012 Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce Abex Award – Community Involvement
- 2012 Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce Abex Award – Aboriginal Partnership
- 2013 Better Business Bureau Torch Award – Retail Category
- 2013 CBC Future 40 Recipient
- 2013 Mclean’s Magazine Future Leaders 25 Under List
- 2013 Sype Volta Award – Saskatchewan Young Entrepreneur of the Year
- 2013 NCAIED Res Arizona $20,000 Business Plan Competition Winner
- 2013-2016 Nominee in the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce Sabex Awards
- 2014 University of Saskatchewan Alumni of Influence Award Recipient
- 2014 Featured Case Study in the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education – Entrepreneurship, The Spirit of Adventure
- 2014 Selected Entrepreneur to represent Canada at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Moscow, Russia.
- 2015 Indspire Award – Youth First Nation Category
- 2015 CCAB National Youth Aboriginal Entrepreneur Award
- 2015 Runner-up – Youth Business International Entrepreneur of the Year
- 2015 Saskatchewan RedCross Young Humanitarian of the Year
- 2015 University of Saskatchewan College of Education Wall of Honour
- 2016 Canadian Business Change Agents – One of Canada’s future business leaders
- 2016 Published Case Study in the Ivey School of Business
- 2017 StartUp Canada Social Enterprise of the Year Award – Prairies
- 2018 Better Business Bureau of Saskatchewan Torch Award for Aboriginal Business
- 2018 Keyano College – Distinguished Alumni Award