Indigenous entrepreneurs invited to pitch for the continental spotlight and $50,000 in cash prizes
Today, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for emerging Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify and Facebook, announced the opening of its seventh annual Pow Wow Pitch competition to Inuit, Métis and First Nations entrepreneurs across Turtle Island.
Growing the Indigenous economy through entrepreneurship
Pow Wow Pitch Founder Sunshine Tenasco, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg entrepreneur started Pow Wow Pitch seven years ago to build a supportive community of Indigenous entrepreneurs as part of the Ottawa Summer Solstice Pow Wow.
“I started Pow Wow Pitch because I believe entrepreneurship is the path to self-sufficiency,” said Founder Sunshine Tenasco. “Being on Dragon’s Den changed my life. When Dragons Brett Wilson and Arlene Dickenson invested and believed in me, it gave me the courage to continue my entrepreneurship journey. I hope Pow Wow Pitch helps to give that gift to someone else.”
Last year, Pow Wow Pitch moved online due to pandemic cancellations of pow wows, which enabled Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Canada to participate for the first time. With the success of the move to digital, this year’s Pow Wow Pitch is open to any Indigenous entrepreneur across Canada, the United States and Mexico.
How it works
Between June 21st and July 31st, Indigenous entrepreneurs can submit a 1-minute video business pitch as their entry into the Pow Wow Pitch Competition. Indigenous (Inuit, Métis or First Nations) people living anywhere on Turtle Island of any age or gender with an idea or business at any stage and in any industry can apply.
Pow Wow Pitch will select the top 150 entrepreneurs as Regional Semi-Finalists to receive mentorship, pitch training and a chance to take the continental stage to pitch their business.
The top 25 entrepreneurs from each region — Atlantic Canada, Québec, Ontario, the Prairies, British Columbia and the Territories, and the United States and Mexico — will pitch to a panel of judges for the chance to win their Regional Title and cash prize and advance onward to the Turtle Island Grand Finale Live Broadcast to win $50,0000 in cash prizes ranging from $500 CAD to $25,000 CAD for the Grand Prize winner.
All entrepreneurs who enter the pitch competition will join the Pow Wow Pitch community, get access to a free Indigenous Startup Program, access more than $1,000 worth of free technology, tools and support, and have the chance to have their products and services featured in the Pow Wow Pitch annual Mailer Box to 500 customers and on the Pow Wow Pitch Directory for socially-conscious customers looking to ‘Buy Indigenous.’
Last year’s Winner, Sister’s Sage, used the competition to grow awareness beyond BC and fund a new space to scale product manufacturing.
“Pow Wow Pitch has made me feel connected to an amazingly supportive network of Indigenous entrepreneurs,” said Lynn-Marie Angus, Co-Founder and CEO of Sister’s Sage. “Winning was a huge confidence booster for me not only professionally, but personally too! Pow Wow Pitch helped me get Sister’s Sage more visibility, and in turn, inspire other Indigenous entrepreneurs to believe in themselves.”
Powered by Partnerships
To scale the Indigenous-led pitch competition across Turtle Island, Pow Wow Pitch is working with industry leaders who believe in the power of Indigenous entrepreneurship. Two early backers of Pow Wow Pitch, RBC and Shopify, have continued to scale their support as Co-Presenting Sponsors of the initiative to allow Pow Wow Pitch to rise to its ambition.
“Across the continent, Indigenous entrepreneurs are building fast-growing businesses, driving transformation in their communities, and leading the charge for a more sustainable and innovative future,” says Dale Sturges, National Director, Indigenous Financial Services at RBC. “Through our partnership with Pow Wow Pitch, RBC is proud to advance our shared goal of celebrating and supporting these entrepreneurs with mentorship, micro startup funds and exposure.”
“Beyond the economic contributions and employment, Indigenous entrepreneurship is important for cultural perpetuity, strengthening communities, and showcasing some of the most luminous and vibrant economy building minds,” said Toby Shannan, Chief Operating Officer of Shopify. “Shopify is committed to reducing barriers to Indigenous entrepreneurship, and is proud to continue sponsoring and empowering with Pow Wow Pitch.”
To further support the program’s growth, Facebook has also joined as a Co-Presenting Sponsor this year.
“Indigenous entrepreneurs are building incredible businesses with huge potential, and they need support to take their ideas to the next level,” said Garrick Tiplady, Managing Director at Facebook Canada. “We’re passionate about helping Indigenous businesses grow and succeed, and thrilled to partner with Pow Wow Pitch to provide Indigenous businesses with training resources and funding.”
“Entrepreneurship is an important tool supporting reconciliation, and it takes all hands on deck to support Indigenous entrepreneurs,” said Tenasco. “We are proud to continue our relationship with RBC and Shopify, and kick-start our relationship with Facebook, as we build an ecosystem for Indigenous-owned startups and entrepreneurs.”To learn more about the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch competition, visit https://www.powwowpitch.org/pitch/