Thunder Bay CEDC successful Pilot Program for Indigenous Entrepreneurs

The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) is pleased to announce the success of the pilot program Miinikaanan Badakidoon. The program was launched in December, 2021 as a new Indigenous funding stream of the Starter Company Plus program.

The pilot program successfully saw six entrepreneurs complete the program, each obtaining $5,000 in funding. The Miinikaanan Badakidoon funding will support Indigenous lead businesses and entrepreneurs across the Northwest region.

“The Thunder Bay CEDC recognizes the immense value that Indigenous owned and operated businesses bring to our local and regional economy. With support from Indigenous Affairs Ontario, the Miinikaanan Badakidoon program has allowed us the opportunity to build a program to support Indigenous Entrepreneurs directly, “states Eric Zakrewski, Chief Executive Officer, Thunder Bay CEDC. “This program was built off the foundation of the Starter Company Plus program that has a proven track record of supporting growth and prosperity for small businesses in Northwestern Ontario. We hope to support Indigenous owned businesses further and continue to provide funding, training and mentoring through the Miinikaanan Badakidoon program.”

The program is supported by the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade and Indigenous Affairs Ontario, lead locally by the Thunder Bay and District Entrepreneur Centre, part of the Thunder Bay CEDC. Additional supports for entrepreneurs participating in the program were provided by Anishinabek Employment and Training Services.

The goal of the program is to mentor and train local entrepreneurs who are looking to start up, expand or purchase an existing business. The program provided an assortment of workshops with community partners such as NADF, Superior Strategies, Ingaged Creative Productions, Causeway Insurance, Cheadles LLP, and the Thunder Bay Public Library. The training assisted the entrepreneurs in writing a business plan and applying for $5,000 in funding. A grant committee was created and comprised of business professionals in the Thunder Bay and region to provide feedback and decisions on the six applications.

The Miinikaanan Badakidoon – Starter Company Plus Program hit all of the important aspects of preparing a solid business plan that allowed me to assess my current operations and to set a course for taking my business to the next level.” States Denise Atkinson, co-founder of Tea Horse. “The tools, presentations by industry experts, and mentorship opportunities have been extremely beneficial for the continued growth of my business and my brand. The content was comprehensive yet very accessible, and well organized. I would highly recommend this Program to Indigenous entrepreneurs interested in starting or growing their business.”

The six new successful participants for the program are as follows:

  • Evolv Consulting Services
  • Sister Bear Designs
  • Big Water Beads
  • Tea Horse
  • Biigtig Consulting
  • Scout Healthcare Recruiting

Participants include three start-ups and three expansion projects.

Visit for more information about the program.

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