Indigenous businesses receive SREDA grants
- NC Raine | March 03, 2021
Six Indigenous-owned businesses in Saskatoon are getting a vital boost during challenging times through a micro-grant award from the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA).
The SOAR grant provides up to $5,000 to Indigenous businesses in the Saskatoon region to help the business development of feasible ideas while supporting growth.
“We are over the friggin moon,” said recipient Shannon Loutitt, CEO and co-founder of the International Indigenous Speakers Bureau (IISB).
IISB is a service that links audiences with Indigenous speakers from around the world. Their roster of speakers includes everyone from emerging speakers to experienced public speakers and knowledge keepers. As one of the top three applicants for the grant, IISB was selected to receive a second $5,000 grant.
“The additional $5,000, that just blew me out of the water. I did not expect that at all. It's really helping us step up right now to one of the biggest challenges we have, which is helping ensure our Indigenous people have a virtual opportunity to share their gifts and messages.”
Fortunately, IISB had been planning, prior to the pandemic, on developing a virtual platform for their speakers. Since pivoting to a virtual approach, Loutitt said they've been thriving. As such, the grant will be helped to cover the cost of camera and sound gear and legal business fees incurred by changes caused by the pandemic.
“What (the grant) has done is allow us to get it all right now, and get out the door and running, so we're in alignment with the current technology,” she said.
Reciving the grant is a huge validation of the importance of the Speakers Bureau, Louttit said.
The other five recipients of the SOAR award, which were announced at a virtual ceremony on January 29th are:
Stardust Clothing and Accessories, owned by Natasha Seeseequasis, a member of Beardy's and Okemasis' Cree Nation, who hand-makes a wide variety of products, including tie-die clothing, handbags, and even teepees. She has also recently started screen printing and vinyl printing. The grant will go towards helping her establish a storefront in Saskatoon in the coming months.
Ernest Plumbing, Heating, and Full Home Service is owned by Métis journeyman Patrick Fleury, from Saskatoon, who started his own business in 2020. Ernest offers services from carpentry and general contracting to repair and maintenance of furnaces. The grant will help Fleury outfit and brand a work van.
Glassworks 360 creates and teaches glasswork. Owner Loretta Brost, a Métis from Prince Albert, has been working with stained glass for 25 years but just started the business last year. The $5,000 will go towards tools, computer and website, and business licence expenses.
Laserology Skin Clinic, owned by Raelene Perlitz, a Métis from Saskatoon, is a custom skincare solutions clinic that Perlitz began in March 2019. Laserology's services include laser hair removal, skin tightening, removal of skin irregularities, and many other skincare services. The grant will go towards print, social media, and radio advertising that she hopes to help grow her business.
SymmetryPR is a public relations firm owned by Ben Borne a member of Yellow Quill First Nation, and Melody Lynch. The pair began the business in June 2020, working predominately with non-profits and Indigenous communities on research, public communications, marketing strategies, and Indigenous engagement. The grant will serve a wide variety of needs, including video equipment costs, legal fees, and marketing.
“With all of the finalists, we had a great mix of businesses,” said Alex Fallon, SREDA President and CEO.
“That's one of the reasons those companies made the top six, because they are emerging sectors and have the potential to grow within those sectors.”
The prize includes membership to the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, which is a great way for businesses to learn, network, and get support from other entrepreneurs, said Fallon.
SREDA will continue to track these businesses over the next months and years, said Fallon.
“It's not about the initial prize, it's about helping these businesses over the long term.”