Accelerate Okanagan partners with Westbank First Nation to Host Startup Basics Program

Blog November 14, 2017

Posted by Joanna Schlosser

Accelerate Okanagan partners with Westbank First Nation to Host Startup Basics Program Featured Image

The fall session of Startup Basics was the first time Accelerate Okanagan (AO) and Westbank First Nation (WFN) have collaborated to offer programming and the early results are promising.

‘I am very passionate about entrepreneurship training – especially for women and indigenous community – and I am very pleased to see the completion of this first series at Westbank First Nation’, says Raghwa Gopal, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan. ‘We are now planning to provide this same training to other First Nation communities across the province’.

The WFN community has grown by over 30% in the last three years and is now home to over 400 businesses. The economic impact these businesses are creating is significant. Over 100 people participated in the fall session of Startup Basics. This also speaks volumes about the growth and entrepreneurial nature of this community.

“One of our government’s key priorities is caring for our members,” Konek explained. “ Working with Accelerate Okanagan has been a successful way for us to provide programming and training that not only benefits our members but our neighbouring communities as well.”

The seven Startup Basics sessions were held at the new, state-of-the-art WFN Youth Centre that opened January 2017. The $5.5 million facility offers office space as well as a wide selection of programs and services designed to support not only the Westbank First Nations but the community as a whole.

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Developed for early-stage entrepreneurs and career-changers, the Startup Basics Program supplies participants with the tools and resources needed to accelerate their idea to the next stage. The fall edition of the Startup Basics Program was sponsored in part by The Discovery Foundation and hosted in collaboration with WFN.

“Entrepreneurship can often seem daunting or intimidating to those first starting out,” says Jenna Stasuk, Program Coordinator at AO. “Collaborating with the WFN team to bring this program to West Kelowna was an incredible opportunity to support what is already a very entrepreneurial region of our community”

Startup Basics sessions are presented by AO Staff, Mentors, Partners, and Alumni and are designed to support entrepreneurs through:




The first session of the fall edition, Lessons Learned, featured three local entrepreneurs, two of which own and operate their business within the Westbank community. This session gives participants a chance to learn from people who have been on the startup path for a while and have likely faced many of the same struggles as those attending this course.

“It was so valuable to hear from other entrepreneurs and learn from their experiences,” says Sandra Ortega, program participant. “ Sharon Bond-Hogg’s story about building a process manual for the Kekuli Cafe inspired me to do the groundwork and create one of my own.”

“Finding opportunities where we can connect and share ideas—this creates knowledge,” said Tom Konek, Councillor with WFN. “When we come together with organizations like AO and use our resources more efficiently, we can work better as a whole and grow more sustainably.” 

If this kind of training sounds like a good fit for your community, let’s connect. Looking for more program options? Right this way

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