SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN – Earlier this month, the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) launched a new Aboriginal entrepreneurship support program called SOAR. Through this program, Aboriginal entrepreneurs have access to a variety of business development support services to learn, launch and soar.
“The SOAR program is an example of SREDA’s commitment to supporting Aboriginal entrepreneurs and helping them grow their businesses in the Saskatoon Region,” said Alex Fallon, President and CEO of SREDA. “The program is aimed at ensuring local Aboriginal entrepreneurs have access to the tools necessary for their business to succeed. The goal of the program is to increase Aboriginal participation in the Saskatoon Region economy.”
This year, SREDA provided financial support to two local Aboriginal business owners to partake in the Raj Manek Mentorship Program as a protégé for one year. The mentorship program offers personalized mentorship matching services, educational seminars and webinars, networking opportunities, and a business information toolkit with access to experienced advisors.
“As Aboriginal entrepreneurship continues to grow within our community, we believe it is vital to provide continuous support to these young entrepreneurs,” said Kanchan Manek, Raj Manek Secretary of the Board of Directors and Mentorship Program Coordinator. “Offering guidance, support and knowledge to Aboriginal entrepreneurs will ensure sustainability and growth of their businesses and health of the Saskatchewan business community. Furthermore, it will encourage other Aboriginal youth to consider entrepreneurship as a career-path.”
This year’s recipients are: Heather Abbey, CEO and Founder of ShopIndig.ca, an online marketplace where Indigenous Artisans can post their authentically made designs and creations and sell to a global market; and Rich Francis, owner of Seventh Fire Indigenous Cuisine, a modern take on Indigenous cuisine. The recipients were selected through a Facebook contest whereby Aboriginal business owners described how they would benefit from mentorship.
“Having a mentor with proven experience and insight will greatly help me to grow my business. I am looking forward to the vast learning opportunities for growth and business development,” said Abbey.
“With SREDA’s support and the Raj Manek Mentorship Program, I am looking forward to learning from experienced entrepreneurs on how to execute and deliver a new product to consumers in Saskatoon,” said Francis.
SREDA plans to further develop this program in the future, along with similar initiatives for entrepreneurs in the Saskatoon Region.
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