Aboriginal Business Match is looking to make a few hookups when the annual conference arrives in Penticton next year.
Using techniques borrowed from dating services and speed dating clubs, attendees will be matched up with business counterparts based on profiles filed in the months leading up to the February 2013 conference at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
ABM 2013 will bring leaders from well over half of First Nations in B.C. in contact with the broader business community to develop economic opportunities.
Delegates are able to choose one-on-one, 20-minute appointments based on detailed e-profiles, developed by all participants and hosted on the ABM website in preparation for the event. Business interests and opportunities are then computer-matched to make the best connections.
“As a result, we have 9,000 individual delegate meetings over four days,” said Katrin Harry, managing partner at Raven Events, the company putting on the show, which will be co-hosted by the Penticton Indian Band.
Chief Jonathan Kruger is looking forward to the arrival of more than 150 private sector companies interested in partnering with First Nations.
“I am hoping it will be an opportunity for some of these developers to come right out on our Penticton Indian Reserve lands and look at the area for themselves to see if maybe we can spark some interest or some kind of future investment for the PIB,” said Kruger.
Harry said developers are only part of the picture.
“There will be service providers, such as engineering firms, there will be technology companies looking for places to do business, manufacturers looking for workforce,” she said. “It’s a gamut of business opportunities and the private sector increasingly understands that First Nations can provide answers to their business development questions, such as the workforce, such as places to do business and so forth.”
Harry said there will also be a number of aboriginally owned companies at the event so there will be the opportunity for cross-pollination.
“It’s also an opportunity for us to network with each other. Some of our business models, we can definitely use help in and I see us helping others as well,” said Kruger. “I see this as an opportunity for all of us to learn and grow. I think it is going to be a very educational experience.”
Besides the business matching, Harry said, there will also be a series of workshops designed to facilitate that kind of knowledge exchange.
While similar trade shows have take place over the last six years, this is only the second one to incorporate the business matching event.
Harry said that with people rotating through a series of 20-minute appointments, it makes for a very energetic event.
“It’s very intense. If you are well prepared, you can accomplish a lot in 20 minutes,” she said. “This is designed to create business relationships that then are investigated further.”
Penticton, she said, was chosen for a couple of reasons, including space to accommodate the large conference.
“We need a lot of space. We need 15,000 square feet of meeting space. In B.C. there are only three locations that can provide that space. There is Vancouver, there is Victoria and there is Penticton, because Penticton has the second largest trade and convention centre in the province,” said Harry. “That was one of the factors. The fact that the Penticton Indian Band is one of the economic development leaders amongst First Nations in B.C. was just a phenomenal bonus for us.
“And to have a very energetic team, the Penticton Indian Band Development Corporation team, to work with us. It was just one of those things that just worked out, really well.”
“There’s lots of stuff going on, it’s going to be a really exciting event,” said Kruger.
“I am looking forward to this event and I am hoping it sparks some opportunities for business in First Nations communities, right across B.C.,” he continued. “It’s going to spark some new beginnings for a lot of people.”