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RBC Backs Pow Wow Pitch Expansion

May 26, 2021

Developing Canada’s $100B Indigenous economy through entrepreneurship

Today, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for emerging Indigenous entrepreneurs, announced the renewal of RBC as its frontrunning co-presenting sponsor, supporting its 2021 plans to scale education, mentorship and recognition of Indigenous entrepreneurs.

According to a 2020 RBC Report, Indigenous Canadians are starting businesses at twice the rate as non-Indigenous Canadians and Indigenous women are starting businesses at five times the rate as non-Indigenous women. However, support for Indigenous creators, makers, artists and entrepreneurs has yet to keep pace with what the Indigenomics Institute projects will be a $100B economy by 2030.

Pow Wow Pitch launched seven years ago as a grassroots pitch contest for vendors at the Ottawa Summer Solstice Pow Wow. RBC sponsored the competition from its early days and has grown its support each year as the competition expanded to support more entrepreneurs.

Last year, pandemic lockdowns forced Pow Wow cancellations across Canada, necessitating Pow Wow Pitch to move online. This created an opportunity to take Pow Wow Pitch across Canada digitally, seeing participation from every province and territory.

With increased demand and participation in Pow Wow Pitch, its Founder, Sunshine Tenasco, recognized the need to deepen support by including education resources, providing mentorship, and sharing the stories of experienced Indigenous entrepreneurs across and beyond Canada.

“I want Pow Wow Pitch to be as well-known as Dragons’ Den, but by and for Indigenous entrepreneurs,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “Our vision is to provide a trusted platform for Indigenous entrepreneurs to share their ideas, products and services with each other and the world. Moving the program online allows us to reach more Indigenous people and showcase the diversity of the businesses we are creating infused with our unique culture.”

This year, Pow Wow Pitch has expanded with an Indigenous Startup Program, a Podcast Series and Awards to complement the Pitch competition. RBC has renewed its support for 2021, making it the longest-standing partner of the competition.

“Entrepreneurship and innovation have always been an integral part of Indigenous ways of life, and today, this is inspiring sustainable and transformational solutions not only for Indigenous nations, but for Canada as a whole,” says Dale Sturges, National Director, Indigenous Financial Services at RBC. “Now in its seventh year, we are thrilled to partner with Pow Wow Pitch, a First Nations-owned enterprise, to provide a supportive, collaborative and empowering environment for Indigenous entrepreneurs.”

Aaron Martyniw, RBC Vice President Commercial Markets, Winnipeg, will join the Pow Wow Pitch Advisory Board and support Pow Wow Pitch by providing webinars, engaging its employees as mentors, adjudicating the pitch competition, and contributing prize dollars for winning entrepreneurs.

“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 as we build an ecosystem for Indigenous-owned startups and entrepreneurs.”

To learn more about the partnership between Pow Wow Pitch and RBC, visit