UVic Aboriginal business education program receive $1-million gift

A UVic Aboriginal business education group has received a $1-million gift from the BMO Financial Group.

The Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneur (ACE) program provides “culturally appropriate” business education to communities in B.C.. The gift will allow the program to expand further into B.C. and across Canada.

One graduate from the program, Lianna Spence, said the program helped her start her business.

“When I started the ACE program I didn’t know much about business. I just carved silver and gold jewelry for a living as a single mom to help my daughter, to raise my daughter as culturally as possible in a local city away from the reserve,” Spence said.

“When the ACE program started it taught me so many things that I can do to alter my life. I didn’t know anything about marketing, networking and writing a business plan but everything I learned in this course has changed my life drastically.”

The program has had more than 275 graduates from 26 Indigenous communities since it began in 2013. Several businesses are in planning stages, and there have been 72 launched.

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