Three Indigenous entrepreneurs from the Territories advance to the Finals
On Saturday evening, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify and Facebook, announced Bernice Clarke, Inuk Owner and Founder of Uasau Soap Inc. from Iqaluit, Nunavut as the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch Territories Winner.
Bernice has won $500 and has advanced to the Finals along with Emily Joanasie, Iqaluit Owner of Miqsuqta! and Joella Hogan, Founder and CEO of The Yukon Soaps Co. from the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun. The three entrepreneurs are advancing to the Finals for a chance to win $25,000 to grow their businesses.
This Summer, 1,642 Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Turtle Island (Canada, the United States and Mexico) submitted one-minute video pitches of their businesses to win funds and support. In August, Pow Wow Pitch announced the Semi-Finalists and paired them with mentors to refine their business pitches in preparation for their presentation to the judges.
On Saturday, Indigenous entrepreneurs from the Territories pitched to a panel of judges, including RBC Vice President of Real Estate and Construction Services Carla Woodward; Shopify Senior Lead of Community and Underrepresented Entrepreneurs Brandon Davenport; NACCA National Program Manager Kevin Rose, Square Small Business and Community Advocate Martin Guerrero; and, Pow Wow Pitch Alumni and Owner of Sequoia Soaps Michaelee Lazore.
Pow Wow Pitch’s Founder Sunshine Tenasco announced the judges’ selection of the entrepreneurs advancing to the Finals and the Territories Winner.
Bernice Clarke, Owner and Founder of Uasau Soap Inc., is the 2021 Winner of the Territories Pow Wow Pitch Semi-Final. Located on the coast of the Arctic Ocean in Nunavut, Uasau Soap (pronounced ooh-ah-sow) provides small-batch, handmade products that draw inspiration from prehistoric Inuit tradition and the Nuna. In Inuktitut, Nuna means everything found on the land and in the sea: water, ice, animals, plants, rocks, even the spirits and memories of our ancestors.
“As Inuit, we are reclaiming our traditional wisdom and strength and reconnecting with our ancestors in the modern world,” said Bernice Clarke. “Healing ourselves includes sharing our story and ways of life others, so winning the prize funds would contribute to our growth and our efforts to provide outreach programs for at-risk youth and young Intuit.”
Also moving onto the Finals is Emily Joanasie, Owner of Miqsuqta!, a fabric store located in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Emily started the business in 2019, inspired to support fellow Inuit seamstresses.
“We offer a wide selection in textiles, sewing notions and crafting items, specializing in fabrics ideal for our Northern communities,” said Emily Joanasie. “Prize funds from Pow Wow Pitch would support me to invest in an e-commerce store online and to grow my team.”
The final Territories entrepreneur advancing to the Finals is Joella Hogan, Founder and CEO of The Yukon Soaps Co. YSC creates natural soaps and products that honour indigenous ways of knowing and being, using plants from the local boreal forest while supporting its community in the process.
“I applied to Pow Wow Pitch to be a part of a movement of amplifying indigenous businesses across Turtle Island,” said Joella Hogan. “Winning Pow Wow Pitch would go towards research and development into reducing waste in a way that is grounded with the ecological values of Northerners and which further positions Yukon Soaps as a leader in sustainable business practices and management.”
“Congratulations to Bernice, Emily and Joella on advancing to the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch Finals,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “Your resilience, creativity and commitment to celebrating and sharing our diverse Indigenous culture while making an impact is a testament to how our unique style of business can and will create a better future for us all.”
“Pow Wow Pitch is a tremendous showcase of Indigenous innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Dale Sturges, National Director for Indigenous Financial Services at RBC. “Indigenous entrepreneurs play a critical role in creating innovative solutions, sustainable communities, economic prosperity. It’s an honour for RBC to be part of the Pow Wow Pitch this year as we play our part to put a spotlight on Indigenous innovations and share their inspiring entrepreneurial stories with Canadians at large. We’re so proud of all of our participants, finalists and winners, and we will continue to support their growth and success in the future.”
“We’re honoured to be a part of the Pow Wow Pitch competition and play a role in supporting these incredibly innovative entrepreneurs as they start and scale their businesses,” said Garrick Tiplady, Vice President and Country Director, Facebook & Instagram Canada, “Congratulations to the semi-finalists and we wish them the best of luck in the next round!”
Click here to watch the Territories Semi-Finals.
Bernice, Emily and Joella are advancing to the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch Final set to air on October 20, 2021. The entrepreneurs are pitching to win one of the following prizes: $3,000 for the Alumni Choice Prize, $5,000 for 3rd place, $10,000 for 2nd place, and $25,000 for 1st place.
Everyone can also register for free to watch the Pow Wow Pitch Finals to watch the youth pitch for the big prizes, airing on October 20. Click here to register now.