Vancouver's newest business incubator will target aboriginal entrepreneurs

Donovan Woollard, ventures director for Radius at SFU's Beedie School of Business | Supplied

Simon Fraser University is starting a new business incubator program designed for aboriginal entrepreneurs, the first program of its kind in Canada.

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) will donate $100,000 a year for 10 years to establish the program, and $30,000 a year over 10 years to award scholarships to aboriginal students who are interested in pursuing entrepreneurships.

The accelerator will be run through SFU’s Radius social venture incubator program, said Donovan Woollard, ventures director with Radius. Radius is affiliated with SFU’s Beedie School of Business.

The program will be designed for aboriginal entrepreneurs who already have a business they are interested in growing, or a well-developed business plan. The participant don’t need to be enrolled at SFU, Woollard said.

“We’ll spend the next five or six months doing some market testing to get a sense of where we can use the funds to most effectively serve the needs of aboriginal entrepreneurs, and we expect the first cohort to start this winter,” Woollard said.

“We want to make sure that we’re targeting communities, possibly sectors and individual entrepreneurs to make sure we can add value to what’s already in place.”

RBC, which has a well-developed aboriginal banking arm, may partner with Radius to provide information about financing for businesses, but the details haven’t been worked out yet, Woollard said.

Read: BIV Aboriginal Business Match: Special focus feature explores the rising tide of First Nations business initiatives