Sunshine Tenasco is a social entrepreneur, an author, and the mother of four who believes that business is an exciting place where people can create positive change.
Sunshine has initiated all her businesses as socially responsible ones that bring societal change. Her enterprise, Her Braids, was launched in 2015 as a business that aims to create awareness about the issue of clean drinking water in First Nations communities. She executed the initiative through beaded pendants, workshops, and her children’s book, “Nibi’s Water Song.” In addition, Her Braids has committed to donating 10% of its profits to the David Suzuki Foundation and the Blue Dot movement.
Sunshine Quem Tenasco is an Anishinabe from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Quebec. Kitigan Zibi is an area that has gone without clean drinking water for a total of 15 years. So when Sunshine started Her Braids, she considered it a means to advocate clean drinking water and empower indigenous entrepreneurs virtually.
On seeing a drawing of an Indigenous child on a book cover, Sunshine wrote her own children’s story, highlighting the lack of clean and safe drinking water facing many First Nations communities. Sunshine’s first book is Nibi’s Water Song, a book that narrates the story with a hopeful tone and lyrical read-aloud quality. The gentle allegorical tale opens the door to conversations aimed at young children, whether they are living with access to clean water or not.
Nibi’s Water Song is about Nibi, an Indigenous girl on the search for clean water to drink. The community, the nation, and the government unite behind Nibi to support her in her mission to provide everyone with access to clean drinking water despite the numerous challenges she faces.
The story’s overarching theme is that no issue is too huge to tackle, that every contribution matters, and that staying idle is not an option.
Coming from the firm belief that entrepreneurship is the path to self-sufficiency, Sunshine’s next initiative to change was the Pow Wow Pitch. Entrepreneurship is a big part of Indigenous heritage, which they called trade, and Sunshine is trying to reawaken her community to entrepreneurship.
Sunshine’s participation in Dragons’ Den was a life changer for her. It gave her the courage to continue her entrepreneurial journey when two influential business people, Brett Wilson and Arlene Dickinson, invested and believed in her. It is this opportunity that she tries to gift someone else with her Pow Wow Pitch.
As the CEO of Pow Wow Pitch, which offers Indigenous entrepreneurs a venue to display their business ventures and the chance to win funding and mentorship, Sunshine aspires to promote the entrepreneurial culture in Indigenous communities. Pow Wow Pitch is a grassroots community of Indigenous entrepreneurs across Turtle Island whose purpose is to provide a safe, collaborative, supportive, and empowering platform for inspiration, education, mentorship, celebration, and reconciliation through entrepreneurship.
Since its launch, Pow Wow Pitch has received enthusiastic support from sponsors and partners committed to the success of Indigenous entrepreneurs. Through corporate leadership, financial support, and employee volunteerism, they work together with their partners to create a lasting impact on the communities they serve. In addition, through programs and resources, they work to enhance, develop, and accelerate growth for current and aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs sustainably.
Their programs are founded on volunteerism and community leadership as a sign of reciprocity and respect. Pow Wow Pitch is thus about people, and it hopes that every Indigenous entrepreneur will feel encouraged by a community as they act on their ideas and establish enterprises rooted in Indigenous culture.
Pow Wow seeks to empower Indigenous entrepreneurs to start and grow successful, sustainable enterprises that make a difference. They offer platforms, initiatives, and resources for trade while celebrating their culture through dance and singing. Indigenous people have the ideas and ability to make a difference in their communities across Turtle Island and the world.
Sunshine Tenaco is a bright and powerful voice from the Indigenous community who inspires through her humanitarian initiatives and her passion for entrepreneurship. Her Braide is committed to bringing awareness and helping to make clean drinking water in first nation communities a reality, one pendant at a time. Pow Wow Pitch is a platform to grow the social impact and support one another as a community.
Sunshine represents the tenacity and strength of the Indigenous women driving social change. To know more about her initiatives, visit her website, https://www.powwowpitch.org/.
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