Calling all Indigenous entrepreneurs

Indigenous entrepreneurs have until June 21 to submit their business ideas to the 2022 Pow Wow Pitch competition.

The event invites Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Turtle Island to pitch their best business plans for a chance to win up to $25,000 in prizes. It aims to shine a spotlight on pow wow vendors, artists, business builders and innovators from all backgrounds and industries, whether just starting or looking to grow to the next level.

This year, more than 2,500 Indigenous entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses online and in-person for a chance to win cash prizes ranging from $100 to $25,000, with a total of $200,000 in cash prizes to give away.

Open to First Nations, Inuit, Métis and Indigenous, participants of any age — startup businesses and existing enterprises looking to grow can participate.

“Our mission is to provide platforms, programs and resources to support Indigenous entrepreneurs to start and grow thriving and sustainable businesses that make a difference,” stated the organization’s website. “It’s about people. Our vision is for every Indigenous entrepreneur to feel supported by a community cheering them on as they take action on their ideas and build businesses rooted in Indigenous culture.”

Sunshine Tenasco, from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, started Pow Wow Pitch because she believes entrepreneurship is the path to self-sufficiency.

“Entrepreneurship is a big part of Indigenous heritage. We used to call it trade— we are just reawakening to entrepreneurship,” said Tenasco, a former competitor on the CBC pitch show Dragons’ Den.

“Being on Dragons Den changed my life path. When Brett Wilson and Arlene Dickinson (two very influential business people) invested and believed in me, it gave me the courage to continue my entrepreneurship journey. I hope that Pow Wow Pitch helps to give that gift to someone else. I love seeing entrepreneurs succeed,” said Tenasco.

Image from powwowpitch.org

2021 Pow Wow Pitch winners:

The first-place prize of $25,000 presented by RBC went to Harlan Wade Kingfisher, founder and CEO of Smudge The Blades, from Sturgeon Lake First Nation, Sask. Smudge The Blades is an Indigenous brand and hockey apparel company that provides hockey scholarships to Indigenous youth.

The second-place prize of $10,000 presented by Facebook went to Ecko Aleck, founder and artist at Sacred Matriarch Creative, from the Nlaka’pamux Nation and Pentlatch, B.C. Sacred Matriarch Creative provides safe spaces for sharing sacred stories and fostering creativity.

The third-place prize of $5,000 presented by Shopify went to Bernice Clarke, Inuit owner and founder of Uasau Soap Inc. from Iqaluit. Uasau Soap provides sustainably sourced Indigenous soaps made with traditional Inuit practices.

In total, $50,000 in cash prizes was awarded to Indigenous entrepreneurs.

For more information and details on how to register visit, powwowpitch.org.

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