May 3, 2023 | Pow Wow Pitch, the premier pitch competition for emerging Indigenous entrepreneurs, has announced the opening of its eighth annual competition to Indigenous entrepreneurs across Turtle Island. The competition is presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify, and Mastercard and offers more than $200,000 in cash prizes.
Indigenous vendors, artists and entrepreneurs from Canada and the United States can pitch their businesses and business ideas virtually and live at powwows and Indigenous festivals for their chance to join the Pow Wow Pitch training and mentorship program and win cash prizes.
Pow Wow Pitch founder Sunshine Tenasco said, “Indigenous people have the ideas to make a difference in their communities, and Pow Wow Pitch is our platform to support one another as a community.”
How it works
Virtual Pitch: To enter the virtual competition, Indigenous entrepreneurs can submit a one-minute video business pitch virtually between April 17th and June 21st at powwowpitch.org/pitch. Pow Wow Pitch will shortlist the top 100 Indigenous entrepreneurs as semi-finalists to receive mentorship, pitch training, and compete in the virtual semi-finals for their chance to win cash prizes and advance to the finals.
In-Person: Pow Wow Pitch will also be on-site for Indigenous entrepreneurs to pitch live at Gathering of Nations on April 29 in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Manito Ahbee on May 20, 2023, in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Ottawa Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival on June 24, 2023, in Ottawa, Ontario; Kamloopa Powwow on August 5th and 6th in Kamloops, British Columbia; and, the Taste of the Atlantic Indigenous Festival Powwow on April 26th in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Entrepreneurs can pitch their business or idea for one minute to win cash prizes and receive a golden ticket to the finals.
The Finals: On October 19th, the top entrepreneurs from the virtual and live semi-finals will pitch to a panel of judges at the Grand Finale for the chance to win the top prizes: an Alumni Prize of $5,000, a People’s Choice Prize of $5,000, 3rd Prize of $5,000, 2nd Prize of $10,000, and 1st Prize of $25,000.
Participating entrepreneurs in the Pow Wow Pitch competition will join a thriving community of Indigenous entrepreneurs and gain access to free training and support to start and grow their businesses. They will also receive a free .CA domain from CIRA and a 60-day free Shopify trial to help establish their online presence.
Last year’s winner, Erica Daniels, Founder of Kejic Productions, used the competition to connect with new customers, purchase equipment and grow her team.
“It’s been such an honour to be an alumnus and the winner of Pow Wow Pitch 2022,” said Erica. “Pow Wow Pitch has provided so many growth opportunities, such as expanding my network and gaining clientele across Canada. The funding support has allowed us to purchase additional high-grade video production equipment and, most importantly, has allowed us to expand our team by hiring an emerging Indigenous filmmaker to train and be mentored in the media industry.”
Those entrepreneurs who advance to the semi-finals will also benefit from specialized pitch training and receive mentorship support, and those who move on to the finals will participate in a Finalist Bootcamp and unlock additional opportunities and have the chance to win the grand prize of $25,000.
Powered by partnerships
Pow Wow Pitch is proud to work with industry leaders who believe in the power of Indigenous entrepreneurship. RBC, Shopify, and Mastercard are co-presenting sponsors and are providing significant multi-year support to empower Indigenous entrepreneurs across Turtle Island. Together, they are working to create a supportive ecosystem that enables Indigenous entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, access training and support, and connect with a community of like-minded individuals.
“As part of our longstanding collaboration with Pow Wow Pitch, RBC is committed to creating meaningful opportunities for Indigenous entrepreneurs to thrive,” said Michael Ferencich, Senior Vice President, Business Financial Services, RBC. “We’re proud to support this competition, which celebrates Indigenous innovation and success, and puts reconciliation into action. We look forward to working with this year’s cohort of inspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs to provide start-up funds and mentorship as they navigate the business landscape and build their dreams.”
“Shopify proudly supports Pow Wow Pitch, empowering a vibrant and diverse community of visionaries to shape the future of commerce,” said Kyle St-Amour-Brennan, Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program Manager at Shopify. “Through collaboration and innovation, we are committed to fostering a thriving ecosystem where Indigenous entrepreneurs can flourish and make a lasting impact on the global market.”
“At Mastercard, we recognize the responsibility we have to create a more inclusive economy that benefits everyone,” said Sasha Krstic, president of Mastercard in Canada. “We are proud to partner with Pow Wow Pitch to address unique barriers and challenges that Indigenous entrepreneurs face and to amplify their success across the country. We are grateful to be part of such an important initiative and look forward to continuing to support Indigenous entrepreneurship through Pow Wow Pitch and other programs that empower communities to build a brighter future together.”
For the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch Season, Pow Wow Pitch is also supported by Silver Sponsors BDC, Canada Post, Export Development Canada, Futurpreneur, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, Jelly Academy, NACCA, Meta, Raven Indigenous Capital Partners, Aritzia and the National Association of Friendship Centres in collaboration with Seed Sponsors Best Buy, CIRA, MITACS, MNP, Sklar Wilton & Associates, Invest Ottawa, Rakuten Advertising, JEDI, T’Kemlups Business and Economic Development Corporation and the Women Entrepreneurs Knowledge Hub.
With so much support and resources available, Indigenous entrepreneurs across Turtle Island are encouraged to pitch their businesses or ideas and join the Pow Wow Pitch community to help bring their visions to life.
“Pow Wow Pitch would not be possible without the support and generosity of our industry partners,” said Sunshine Tenasco. “RBC, Shopify and Mastercard have been our trusted allies in promoting Indigenous entrepreneurship and making our dream a reality. We couldn’t be more grateful for their unwavering commitment to our cause, and we’re excited to see what the future holds!”
To learn more about the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch competition, visit powwowpitch.org/pitch.
About Pow Wow Pitch
Pow Wow Pitch is an entrepreneurship program for emerging Indigenous entrepreneurs, which provides a safe, supportive, collaborative, empowering and culturally supportive environment that addresses the challenges of Indigenous entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs. Pow Wow Pitch enhances growth through programs and resources. Community leadership through volunteerism is promoted as a reflection of respect and reciprocity. For more information, visit www.powwowpitch.org.
About RBC Indigenous Financial Services Group
For more than 100 years, RBC has been building relationships with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities across Canada. We are committed to serving Indigenous governments, communities, organizations, businesses and individuals by creating opportunities for sustainable economic development through access to banking and capital, and individuals. RBC also provides donations and grants that support Indigenous interests. More information at rbcroyalbank.com/indigenous.
Shopify powers millions of businesses worldwide. The all-in-one commerce platform to start, run, and grow a business. Shopify believes the future of commerce has more voices, not fewer, so we’re reducing the barriers to business ownership to make commerce better for everyone.
We are trusted by Indigenous brands such as Cheekbone Beauty, Indigenous Box, Sisters Sage, SECTION 35, Tania Larsson, and many many more. For more information, visit www.shopify.com or visit our specific Indigenous Entrepreneurship initiative Build Native at www.buildnative.shop.
About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)
Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.