Indigenous entrepreneur from Collingwood, ON wins $1,000 and advances to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals.
On September 6, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify, and Mastercard, announced Rachael Hunt, the Cape Croker, Chippewa of Nawash Founder of Freedom School Co. from Collingwood, Ontario, as the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch Knowledge Winner. Rachael Hunt has won $1,000 and is advancing to the Finals for a chance to win $25,000 to grow her business.
More than 2,000 Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Canada and the United States applied to Pow Wow Pitch this year for their chance to win cash prizes and advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals. From the 2,000 applicants, 130 were selected as Semi-Finalists and provided with training and mentorship to prepare for their semi-final pitch to the Judges.
Tonight, Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch, emceed the action-packed program, where the seven Knowledge Semi-Finalists had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas and businesses in one minute for their chance to win.
Judges included Herb Zobell, Vice President of Commercial Financial Services of Indigenous Markets at RBC; Moreshwar Datye, Director of Platform Services at Mastercard; Gina Soparlo, Senior Advisor of Strategic Partnerships and Global Markets at Mitacs; Magnolia Perron, Indigenous Women and Youth Program Manager at NACCA; and Amy Jackson, Social Media Coordinator at Manitobah.
“Winning Pow Wow Pitch will allow me to create a scholarship fund for Indigenous Women to enroll in my signature program, Freedom Business School,” said Rachael Hunt. “The program works to heal intergenerational and ancestral wounds we are carrying.”
Freedom School Co. is a personal growth program that takes an unconventional approach to coaching and wellness by supporting individuals to build self worth and confidence. Rachael has also developed her initiative to support Indigenous women that struggle with generational trauma to break cycles and to be fostered by a community of support.
Rachael shared in her pitch that she dreams of making Freedom School Co. more accessible to reach more women through funding and scholarships. “Winning Pow Wow Pitch will allow me to supplement this scholarship, grow an Indigenous team, integrate key partners and expand the vision even further,” shared Rachael.
The Runner Up for the Knowledge Services Category was Ninaatig Staats Pangowish, Founder of Ninaatigoons Learning, recognized for his work in language preservation and innovative learning concept.
In addition, Skyler Sanderson, Founder of Young Visionary, received an Honourable Mention as a role model for Indigenous youth.
“Congratulations to Rachael Hunt on her advancement to the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch Finals,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “Rachael, your work to break generational cycles is inspirational and we are so proud to support you in uplifting Indigenous women. We look forward to spotlighting Freedom School Co. to build confidence amongst Indigenous people.”
“Pow Wow Pitch is a tremendous showcase of Indigenous innovation and entrepreneurship, and the stories and achievements of this year’s semi-finalists are a testament to their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Michael Ferencich, Senior Vice President, Business Financial Services, RBC. “We’re so proud of all our participants and semi-finalists, and we will continue to support their growth and success in the future.”
“Being involved in Pow Wow Pitch is not just an honor, it’s a privilege to witness the creativity and innovation of Indigenous entrepreneurs,” said Kyle Brennan Shàwinipinesì, Build Native Program Manager at Shopify. “It’s a reminder of the resilience and strength of our communities and the power of entrepreneurship to create positive change. Shopify has played a proud role in supporting Pow Wow Pitch, so it is exciting to see how things have grown over the years. What an incredible opportunity for Indigenous entrepreneurs!”
“At Mastercard, we’ve been inspired by the innovative thinking and solutions brought forward by all the Indigenous entrepreneurs involved in this year’s Pow Wow Pitch,” said Sasha Krstic, President of Mastercard in Canada. “The future is brighter when Indigenous entrepreneurship is recognized, supported and celebrated, and we are honoured to play a role in continued success and growth of these entrepreneurs. Congratulations to all the pitchers and congratulations to Rachael Hunt on advancing to the next round.”
Rachael will now advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals to pitch for the Grand Prize of $25,000, which broadcasts online on October 19th. Visit www.powwowpitch.org for more information.