Saskatoon

New program helps Indigenous entrepreneurs succeed in Saskatoon economy

The owners of an online marketplace for Indigenous artisans and a business serving modern Indigenous cuisine are the first two recipients of a mentorship opportunity for Aboriginal entrepreneurs in Saskatoon.

Online store and restaurant owners are first recipients

Indigenous chef Rich Francis, left, and Heather Abbey, centre, have received financial support to take part in the Raj Manek Mentorship Program. (Don Somers/CBC)

The owners of an online marketplace for Indigenous artisans and a business serving modern Indigenous cuisine are the first two recipients of a mentorship opportunity for Aboriginal entrepreneurs in Saskatoon. 

The Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority's Soar program gives Aboriginal entrepreneurs access to a range of business development services.  

On Wednesday, the new program announced it would provide financial support for two new Aboriginal business owners to take part in the Raj Manek Mentorship Program. 

Rich Francis, the owner of Seventh Fire Indigenous Cuisine, says now is an exciting time for his restaurant. (Don Somers/CBC )

Rich Francis, the owner of the Seventh Fire Indigenous Cuisine restaurant, is one of the two mentorship recipients. 

He said this was an exciting time for his new restaurant, which takes a modern approach to Indigenous cuisine.

"We're looking at ways of exploring Aboriginal issues through food, such as truth and reconciliation, missing and murdered Indigenous women," he said.

"But also, from a culinary perspective, we're also looking to leave a mark and so we're in a really exciting time."  

New business owner Heather Abbey, the founder of ShopIndig.ca, said she was grateful for the opportunity to receive mentoring through the SOAR program. (Don Somers/CBC)

Heather Abbey, the chief executive of the ShopIndig.ca online market for Indigenous designs, was the second mentorship recipient. 

She said guidance through mentorship was an important service for growing businesses. 

"It's so crucial in these first few years that we learn where to go, where not to go, and just how to successfully run our business and to move forward in a good way in the Saskatchewan economy," said Abbey. 

SREDA said the overall goal of the program was to increase Aboriginal participation in the local economy. 

With files from Don Somers

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