Saskatoon entrepreneurs are set to take flight in the second annual SOAR Competition
- NC Raine | March 23, 2022
Fifteen Indigenous entrepreneurs are in the running to have their careers transformed with the help of $30,000 from the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA).
The money is part of the SOAR kihiw paskîyâkêwin Indigenous Entrepreneurship Competition, which received twice as many entries this year.
“This investment is really to help people take ideas to the business stage, and help those companies grow so they can become full-time employees of their business, and eventually, create jobs that hire other employees,” said Alex Fallon, CEO of SREDA. “Creating jobs supports families, and that's good for the community.”
This year’s entrepreneurs represent a diversity of sectors, including technology, restaurant and hospitality, child care, music, and entertainment. The businesses that have been shortlisted must have between one and ten employees, be at least 51 per cent Indigenous-owned and located in the Saskatoon region.
The shortlisted entrepreneurs will participate in one-on-one coaching sessions with local business experts and receive coaching on marketing, finance, legal, business strategy, and entrepreneurship.
“The award money is just one thing, it's not always the most important thing,” said Fallon. “The coaching and advice that the entrepreneurs will receive from the program, as well as the relationships we're building between Indigenous entrepreneurs and experts, is extremely valuable.
It is really about bringing the business community together, helping each other, and helping these entrepreneurs soar.”
The competition will conclude on April 21 at Dakota Dunes Casino, where the top five entrepreneurs from the coaching round will pitch their business to a panel of judges.
Fallon said judges will be looking for businesses who already have sales or traction in their sector, or are close to launching their business and have the potential to grow and create employment.
Regardless of the outcome, all of the finalists will gain something invaluable, said Fallon.
“It's important to bring these members of the business community together who have never met," he said. “There will be 150 people there, there will be media present. We really want to help create those relationships that haven't existed in the past, which can be so beneficial going forward.”
The names of the final five will be released at a later date.