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$450,000 donation to CapU helps Indigenous businesses bridge the digital divide

TD Bank grant to CapU's Indigenous Digital Accelerator program will "help Indigenous entrepreneurs break through barriers and succeed in the tech, digital-creative and cultural sectors"
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As the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic continues unabated, Indigenous businesses have been particularly hard hit.

The Indigenous Business and Investment Council says that approximately 85 per cent of Indigenous-owned business are having difficulties shifting to virtual or digital service delivery.

A $450,000 donation from TD Bank will help them make the transition.

The grant will strengthen Capilano University’s Indigenous Digital Accelerator program, which was first launched in April 2019.

“[IDA] bridges gaps in digital skills and business training to help Indigenous entrepreneurs break through barriers and succeed in the tech, digital-creative and cultural sectors,” says Doreen Manuel, director of the Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film and Animation at CapU and a key member of the IDA team. “Fostering successful Indigenous-led businesses leads to vibrant and healthy Indigenous communities.”

Over the next three years, the IDA will work with 10 to 20 Indigenous businesses or organizations. The aim is to help them “scale up” and grow to create 100 new jobs for Indigenous peoples in the next five years. It will also provide hundreds of student employment opportunities.

Manuel says the program focuses on supporting Indigenous start-ups and companies with high growth, commercialization and technological potential to increase participation of Indigenous peoples in the digital-creative and cultural sectors, including film, TV, games, digital media and communications.

Andy Cribb, TD Pacific region’s senior vice-president, says the funding affirms TD’s commitment to encourage Indigenous participation in the economy. “As we look to the future,” he said in a press release, “we know part of our economic success will be predicated on the growth and sustainability of businesses and organizations in the province, including those that are Indigenous-led.”

CapU is working in partnership with Indigenext on the program.

Martha Perkins is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.