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New Initiative Supports Indigenous Entrepreneurs

Global Affairs Canada and Trade and Invest British Columbia (BC) recently partnered with the NW Innovation Resource Center (NWIRC) to establish the Canadian Indigenous Business Accelerator Initiative. The NWIRC is an organization that helps develop successful entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest through providing educational programs, mentorship, expert talks and networking opportunities. Ultimately, the center’s aim is to enhance the economic diversity of the region.

The Canadian Indigenous Business Accelerator initiative’s purpose is to accelerate the growth of Indigenous-owned businesses. This outcome is being achieved by providing participants with entrepreneurial skills training and practical guidance in expanding internationally into United States (U.S.) markets – particularly in the Pacific Northwest.

This program provides indigenous-owned businesses with unique support to help them access U.S. markets and leverage the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) which came into effect in June of 2020.  Participants receive expert guidance in navigating the complexities of the international trade ecosystem and in expediting their market validation into the United States. Market validation is a critical process for any entrepreneur(s) as it refers to getting direct feedback from a potential market to establish demand for your product or service. This process provides invaluable insights into key business functions such as business model formulation, marketing strategy and funding management.

Additionally, participants receive online skills training over the program’s 12-week duration.  This training is delivered using a variety of methods, including interactive sessions with expert guests, presentations, demonstrations, discussions and both individual and group hands-on activities. In addition, participants will be provided with a mentor to provide specialized support for their individual needs.

Program content includes:

  • Hands-on practice with innovation and design
  • How to conduct research and market analysis
  • Strategies for market validation, gathering feedback, intellectual property, business models, financial planning for investment and operations, sales and marketing, and business presentation and communication

Global Invest Canada and Trade and Invest BC’s partnership with the NWIRC was facilitated by Trade and Invest British Columbia’s Seattle office. This office is part of Trade and Invest BC’s global network of representatives which includes representation in China, Japan, Korea, SE Asia, India, Europe and the United States. These international representatives play key roles in facilitating international trade with B.C.

In this case, the Seattle office’s key functions included identifying the NWIRC as suitable partners to run the initiative and working with the Consulate General of Canada in Seattle to evaluate program candidates and select the ideal participating companies. Additionally, Seattle representatives conducted 1-on-1 meetings with participants to set expectations and learn about their goals and priorities to better tailor the program to their needs. This allowed them to provide orientation with the NWIRC to create this tailor-made initiative which considers the needs and priorities of participating companies.

Trade and Invest BC will continue to work with the NWIRC and the Consulate to identify opportunities for the participating companies.

To learn more about the Canadian Indigenous Business Accelerator Initiative or about the work that Trade and Invest BC’s offices do, please visit: https://nwirc.com/empowering-innovative-entrepreneurs/programs/c-indiginous-business-accelerator/ and https://www.britishcolumbia.ca/about-trade-and-invest-bc/

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