The six recipients of this year’s SOAR grants were announced on Friday, January 29th at a virtual event held by the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) in partnership with the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce. The SOAR program provides grants of up to $5,000 to promising Indigenous entrepreneurs starting or growing their business in the Saskatoon Region. This year’s three top finalists were also given an additional $5,000 grant.
“The SREDA SOAR program is all about supporting talented Indigenous entrepreneurs who are chasing their dreams of launching and growing their businesses right here in the Saskatoon Region,” said Alex Fallon, SREDA President and CEO. “During these challenging economic times, it is even more remarkable that these businesses aren’t giving up – they are striving to grow and that’s what entrepreneurship is all about. Congratulations to the extraordinary finalists; they are all helping to create jobs and ensuring that dreams do come true.”
SOAR is intended to accelerate the business development of feasible ideas while supporting the growth of the founding entrepreneurs. Applicants to the program participated in one-on-one strategy development sessions with SREDA’s Business Growth team before being evaluated and ranked as part of the final pitch round. The final round took place the week of January 25th, with virtual pitches delivered to a panel of judges consisting of representatives from the SREDA Indigenous Committee, the Chamber’s Indigenous Economic Growth Committee, the Saskatchewan Indigenous Economic Development Network (SIEDN) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).
This year’s winners own businesses representing varied sectors across the Saskatoon Region:
- Stardust Clothing and Accessories, a fashion design business creating clothing and accessories,
- The International Indigenous Speakers Bureau (IISB), a service linking global audiences with Indigenous knowledge from emerging speakers and knowledge keepers,
- Ernest Plumbing, Heating and Full Home Service, a plumbing, heating and home services business,
- Glassworks 360,an artist and teaching studio that creates stained and fused glass pieces and offers classes to the public,
- Laserology Skin Clinic, a personal services clinic delivering customized skin solutions, and
- SymmetryPR, a public relations consultancy offering strategic communications advice with a focus on helping businesses navigate COVID.
SOAR is delivered in partnership with the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce (Chamber). In addition to the grant, winners are given a 2021 Chamber membership, the opportunity to participate in SREDA’s Learning Together mentoring program, a profile in the Chamber’s Business Voice Magazine and networking opportunities through complimentary tickets to 2021 SREDA and Chamber events.
Indigenous entrepreneurs interested in the next intake for the SOAR program should contact SREDA at firstname.lastname@example.org.