For the fourth year in a row, the Penticton Indian Band is hosting the Aboriginal Business Match.
The annual business conference, which brings together First Nations groups with businesses seeking partnerships, has grown dramatically since 2012, when the first conference was held in Prince George. That first conference generated about $2 million in business deals, a number which grew to $40 million by 2014.
“ABM is unparalleled in creating profitable business deals. The participation of aboriginal businesses increases every year. This is very encouraging as aboriginal businesses and entrepreneurs are a vital catalyst for change,” said Chief Jonathan Kruger of the Penticton Indian Band.
This year’s conference brings together 290 participants, with more than 2,700 requests for meetings. Last year, the conference was renamed ABM West in light of its spread across Canada, with six conferences from here to Mi’kmaw Territory in Membertou, NS.
Gavin Domitter says his company, QM Environmental, is committed to attending the all six conferences, investing in a national partnership with ABM.
“ABM provides a one-of-a-kind national forum for diverse business interests, nurturing the development of a myriad of opportunities ranging from a few thousand dollars in purchased goods to multi-million dollar joint venture partnerships,” said Domitter, who is director for Aboriginal Relations and Business Development with QM Environmental, an environmental and industrial services provider.
Domitter said ABM is the single most effective way for them to move business relationships with Aboriginal communities and businesses forward.
“It is difficult to get the coverage on a national scale,” said Domitter. ABM, he said, is an effective way of building awareness of their company and what they do through meeting so many people.
“There are many great events, but given the format of this event, it is very unique and for us, gives a lot of reach out into the communities,” said Domitter.
ABM, he continued, is also a good learning experience. Even during the 15-minute sessions that are part of the format, Domitter said, you learn a lot about the individuals and their community.
“That helps us in our business deals as well,” said Domitter. “It is so rewarding working with aboriginal communities, it is a lot about relationships.
“In many ways, this event starts that process. It gives you an opportunity to sit down face to face. However brief it is, at least you start those conversations and as we have witnessed, you can generate some long-term relationships and some long-term business ventures.”
This isn’t Domitter’s first visit to Penticton for ABM, but as they have become more involved, he explained, they have continued to move eastward along with the event. But it was at an ABM in Penticton, he said, that they laid the groundwork for one of their larger relationships, with the Malahat First Nation on Vancouver Island.
“This would be my third event here. I always love the city, and Chief Kruger and the PIB are always so welcoming, as is the City of Penticton. They seem to have a very strong and active relationship between the nation and the community,” said Domitter.
More information about ABM is available at www.aboriginalbusinessmatch.com.