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The BEST in Aboriginal business

Owner Lisa Bowe won the Aboriginal BEST title for the Kootenays and took third overall in B.C. for her presentation on East Kootenay Cleaners. - Kerstin Renner
Owner Lisa Bowe won the Aboriginal BEST title for the Kootenays and took third overall in B.C. for her presentation on East Kootenay Cleaners.
— image credit: Kerstin Renner

The organization might have a new name, but Kootenay Aboriginal Business Development Agency (KABDA) is delivering the same proven programs to Aboriginal entrepreneurs in the region. Recently, ten individuals graduated from the third Aboriginal BEST program in the Kootenays.

“It creates a real awareness for people just starting their business as to what it really entails,” says KABDA manager Patti Phillips about the value of the program. Entrepreneurs who are already in business, she adds, are given the tools to shape their direction in moving forward.

After twelve day-long sessions, prizes were awarded to the top three business presentations. Lisa Bowe of East Kootenay Cleaners took the top spot with Misty St Peter of Mysticangel Web Design and Robert Williams of Tipi Mountain Native Plants taking the other spots.

As the winner, Bowe got the opportunity to compete in the provincial Best of BEST event in Vancouver where she took third place. “Of course you go there, going for first,” admits the competitive former rodeo rider. “After watching all the presentations, I was amazed I placed third.”

Beside a cash prize to invest in her business and the experiences from the trip, Bowe says the program gave her the ability to take control of her business.

Bowe started East Kootenay Cleaners in 2008 and the BEST program came with good timing for her as she was ready to expand. BEST, Bowe believes, helped her take it to the next level. “They helped me tweak the business I have and turn it into the one a want to have,” she states.

Next, KABDA is putting the finishing touches on the third Aboriginal Business Showcase, hosted at the Heritage Inn in Cranbrook on Friday evening and all day Saturday. Phillips says there will be a great variety of Aboriginal businesses presenting their products and services.

Phillips hopes the event will give businesses a chance to build partnerships and the community to see what Aboriginal entrepreneurs are up to. There will also be cultural entertainment throughout the day on Saturday and admission to the showcase is free.

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