PHOTO: Pitch Winners at the 2022 Kamloopa Pow Wow sponsored by RBC

Breaking Barriers: Pow Wow Pitch and RBC Drive Economic Growth in Indigenous Communities

April 20, 2023

April 20, 2023 – Pow Wow Pitch, an entrepreneurship program for emerging Indigenous entrepreneurs, and RBC, a global financial institution, have teamed up to address the unique challenges faced by Indigenous entrepreneurs and aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs in Canada. Through their collaboration, Pow Wow Pitch and RBC are breaking down barriers to Indigenous entrepreneurship and driving long-term economic growth in Indigenous communities across the country.

Indigenous entrepreneurs often face unique challenges that can make it difficult to access the resources and support needed to start and grow successful businesses. These challenges include systemic barriers such as limited access to capital and financial services, a lack of business knowledge and mentorship opportunities, and historical and ongoing discrimination. In fact, a report by the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association found that Indigenous entrepreneurs are three times more likely to be denied funding than non-Indigenous entrepreneurs.

In the face of these challenges, RBC and Pow Wow Pitch are working to break down barriers and pave the way for Indigenous entrepreneurship and economic growth. Through their involvement as judges for the pitch competition, RBC employees have been able to share their expertise and knowledge with Indigenous entrepreneurs and help them build their businesses. The collaboration has also expanded to new initiatives such as the Indigenous Entrepreneur Awards and Startup Program, which aim to deepen the impact of Pow Wow Pitch and create more opportunities for Indigenous entrepreneurship.

By creating these opportunities and resources for Indigenous entrepreneurs, RBC and Pow Wow Pitch are setting an example for others to follow and contribute to a more equitable and just society for all.

Since 2016, RBC has been a proud sponsor of Pow Wow Pitch, providing financial support and mentorship to emerging Indigenous entrepreneurs. Through their involvement as judges for the competition, RBC employees have also been able to share their expertise and knowledge with Indigenous entrepreneurs and help them build their businesses.

As Pow Wow Pitch has grown from a local pitch competition to a nationwide movement, RBC has remained a committed partner, supporting the program’s expansion and integration of new initiatives such as the Indigenous Entrepreneur Awards, Indigenous Startup Program and the Pow Wow Pitch Box. RBC’s involvement has been instrumental in creating a reliable and sustainable pathway for Pow Wow Pitch to evolve and meet the needs of Indigenous entrepreneurs.

“Pow Wow Pitch is a shining example of the brighter future that can be collectively built when Indigenous entrepreneurs are supported and recognized, and RBC is incredibly proud to support this shared mission,” said Michael Ferencich, Senior Vice President, Business Financial Services, RBC. “It’s our privilege to work directly with the next generation of Indigenous leaders and trailblazers on the ground at powwows and events across Canada. We look forward to another year of uncovering their inspiring stories and supporting their journeys with mentorship, micro startup funds and exposure.”

“RBC has been with us since day one, and we’ve seen some amazing change thanks to their support,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder and Chair of Pow Wow Pitch. “When RBC employees show up at powwows to work with Indigenous entrepreneurs, it’s magic. They bring positive energy and form connections with the entrepreneurs as mentors and judges. As we have expanded across Canada, local RBC offices across Canada have also shown pride in supporting Indigenous entrepreneurship and contributing to economic growth. It’s all about truth and reconciliation actions, healing, and building the Indigenous economy, and with RBC by our side, we are able to take bold steps toward more sustainable impact.”

To learn more about the collaboration between Pow Wow Pitch and RBC, including the impact they have had on Indigenous entrepreneurship, please visit