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BDC supports Soar Accelerator to propel Indigenous-owned businesses

Toronto, June 6, 2023 – SOAR, a grassroots initiative to support Indigenous entrepreneurs, is launching a first-of-its-kind-accelerator this month to address gaps in support for high-growth Indigenous-owned businesses in Canada. Its goal is to propel five Indigenous companies (who are all already making over $1M in revenue) to increase their revenue by at least five times over the next 12 months.

Co-presented by Square, BDC and Futurpreneur, the SOAR Accelerator is a unique 2.5 day program (June 14-16) that provides executive-level training and mentorship to build skills and capacity, organizes meetings with major buyers with the goal to create purchase orders, and creates connections between successful Indigenous business owners on a similar path. The inaugural cohort includes: Cheekbone Beauty, Indi City, MINI TIPI, Sequoia, and Wabanaki Maple.

"SOAR Accelerator fills an important gap by providing a platform for high-growth Indigenous-owned businesses in Canada” says Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of SOAR, Her Braids, Pow Wow Pitch, and Author of Nibi's Water Song. “It's about more than just financial success; it's about building confidence, opening doors, and leveraging the ecosystem to empower the Indigenous economy, one entrepreneur at a time. The caliber of selected entrepreneurs and partners like Square, BDC, and Futurpreneur highlight that SOAR Accelerator is reconciliation and reclamation in action."

According to NACCA, there are more than 50,000 Indigenous-owned businesses in Canada. The majority (68%) do not have employees, have less access to capital, and lack the mentors and networks required to grow their business. In addition, intersectionality (being Indigenous and part of another underserved group such as women or part of the LGBTQ2+ community) poses additional barriers.

The SOAR accelerator was created to help knock down such barriers. Jenn Harper, Founder and CEO of Cheekbone Beauty, one of this year’s participants, is grateful for the support of serial social entrepreneur Sunshine Tenasco.

"I am ecstatic to be a part of this extraordinary opportunity alongside other visionary Indigenous entrepreneurs,” said Harper. “Reflecting on my journey, it is humbling to see how far we have come. It is not just about my vision but also the profound healing that has shaped my path. Cheekbone Beauty is more than beauty products. It is about empowering Indigenous communities, the power of representation and uplifting voices, and creating lasting change for a better future. Through SOAR, I am recommitting to our shared vision, where Indigenous strength and resilience propels us forward."

BDC has a long history of working with Indigenous entrepreneurs. It is committed to taking actions towards reconciliation and being a more inclusive place to work in, and work with. This includes collaborating with partners to increase financial support and resources (such as the Indigenous Growth Fund), improving recruitment strategies and employee onboarding, and employee learning such as the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation training which provides education on Indigenous history, culture, and how to support truth and reconciliation in Canada. BDC is also offering the 4 Seasons training for free to Canadian entrepreneurs.

The accelerator builds on the success of the 2022 SOAR Digital Gathering that brought together more than 1,000 Indigenous entrepreneurs virtually from across Canada. The gathering creates a safe and inclusive space for sharing, learning and connecting in the spirit of encouragement, friendship and collaboration, grounded in sacred teachings. This year’s event, happening September 21, is expected to attract more than 1,500 entrepreneurs. Register today at https://soarcircles.org/.

About SOAR

SOAR is a grassroots initiative powered by Indigenous-led organizations, Indigenous entrepreneurs, and aligned industry partners working together to unite and support Indigenous entrepreneurs to build thriving businesses and grow together. We enhance, develop, and accelerate growth for current and aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs in a sustainable way through programs and resources grounded in Indigenous values and teachings. Learn more at soarcircles.org or find us on Instagram.

About BDC

As Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, BDC is a partner of choice for all entrepreneurs looking to access the financing and advice they need to build their businesses and tackle the big challenges of our time. Our investment arm, BDC Capital, offers a wide range of risk capital solutions to help grow the country’s most innovative firms. We are one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. For more information on BDC’s products and services and to consult free tools, templates and articles, visit bdc.ca or join BDC on social media.

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