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Calling all Indigenous Entrepreneurs, Artists, Vendors and Businesses

Press Release

Today, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for emerging Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify, Meta and Mastercard, announced the opening of its eighth annual Pow Wow Pitch competition to Inuit, Métis and First Nations entrepreneurs across Turtle Island.

Through Pow Wow Pitch, Indigenous vendors, artists and entrepreneurs from Canada and the United States can pitch their businesses and business ideas virtually and live at pow wows and Indigenous festivals for their chance to join the Pow Wow Pitch Accelerator program and win more than $200,000 in cash prizes.

“Pow Wow is a place to meet, dance, sing, honour our culture and trade,” said Pow Wow Pitch Founder, Sunshine Tenasco. “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: Between April 6th and June 21st, Indigenous entrepreneurs can submit a 1-minute video business pitch at www.powwowpitch.org/pitch as their entry into the Pow Wow Pitch Competition, or they can sign up and pitch live on Instagram through InstaPitch. Pow Wow Pitch will shortlist the top 80 Indigenous entrepreneurs as semi-finalists to receive mentorship, pitch training and compete in the virtual semi-final broadcasts for their chance to win $60,000 cash prizes and advance to the Grand Finale in October.

In-Person: Pow Wow Pitch will also be on-site for Indigenous entrepreneurs to pitch live at the Manito Ahbee Festival in Winnipeg on May 21st, the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival in Ottawa on June 25th, and other major Indigenous powwows and festivals across Canada and the United States.  Entrepreneurs can pitch their business or idea for one minute to win cash prizes and advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Grand Finale.

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: Alumni Prize ($5,000), People’s Choice Prize ($5,000), 3rd Prize ($5,000), 2nd Prize ($10,000), and 1st Prize ($25,000).

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 2,500 customers and on the Pow Wow Pitch Marketplace launching later this year for socially-conscious customers looking to ‘Buy Indigenous.’

Last year’s Winner, Smudge the Blades, used the competition to grow awareness and forge new collaborations.

“Winning Pow Wow Pitch helped me get traction with major sports stores and distribution partners across Canada, gain coverage in news articles and Sportsnet, led to awesome collaborations with NHL Teams like the Edmonton Oilers, with new plans to work with the Shopify Build Native Team to revamp our website,” said Harlan Kingfisher, Founder of Smudge the Blades. “Through Pow Wow Pitch, I found friends and feel famous-even. People are recognizing the brand and me, which is helping us grow! It was an incredible experience and an amazing community.”

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. RBC, Shopify, Meta and Mastercard have signed on with significant multi-year support as Co-Presenting Sponsors of the initiative to allow Pow Wow Pitch to rise to its ambition to support every Indigenous entrepreneur.

“Indigenous entrepreneurs drive innovation and change in their communities and across Canada,” said Garrick Tiplady, VP and Country Director at Meta in Canada, “We are proud to continue supporting Pow Wow Pitch and their incredible community of entrepreneurs through educational resources and funding.”

For the 2022 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 and NACCA, in collaboration with Seed Sponsors Best Buy, CIRA, MITACS, MNP, Sklar Wilton & Associates and the Women Entrepreneurs Knowledge Hub.

“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, Shopify and Meta and kick-start our partnership with Mastercard as we build an ecosystem for Indigenous-owned vendors, startups and entrepreneurs.”

To learn more about the 2022 Pow Wow Pitch competition, visit www.powwowpitch.org/pitch/.

To book an interview with Pow Wow Pitch Founder Sunshine Tenaco, or for more information, please contact [email protected]

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.

About Shopify

Shopify is a leading global commerce company, providing trusted tools to start, grow, market, and manage a retail business of any size. Shopify makes commerce better for everyone with a platform and services that are engineered for reliability, while delivering a better shopping experience for consumers everywhere. Proudly founded in Ottawa, Shopify powers over 1.7 million businesses in more than 175 countries and is trusted by brands such as Manitobah Mukluks, Cheekbone Beauty, Sisters Sage, Herbraids, Tania Larsson, and many more. For more information, visit www.shopify.com.

About Meta

Meta builds technologies that help people connect, find communities, and grow businesses. When Facebook launched in 2004, it changed the way people connect. Apps like Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp further empowered billions around the world. Now, Meta is moving beyond 2D screens toward immersive experiences like augmented and virtual reality to help build the next evolution in social technology.

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.

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