Grand Challenges Canada

TORONTO, May 11, 2020 – The Indigenous Innovation Initiative, hosted at Grand Challenges Canada is excited to announce the launch of its inaugural program, Advancing Indigenous Gender Equality through Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, on May 11, 2020.

The program will provide much-needed seed funding to innovative projects that will promote gender equality in Indigenous communities across Canada. The program recognizes the additional barriers Indigenous women and gender-diverse individuals face when they enter the innovation, business and entrepreneurship space. This program will provide not only capital to innovators, but also capacity building supports and improved access to key business networks.

The Indigenous Innovation Initiative is based on the strength and the resiliency of Indigenous communities and the power of Indigenous women and LGBTQ2S leaders. By providing seed funding of up to $250,000 per innovative project, the Government of Canada and our partners will support job creation and advance Indigenous gender equality.” said Minister Maryam Monsef, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development. This program is supported in part through the Women and Gender Equality Canada Women’s Program.

This launch marks a pivotal milestone in the path to economic reconciliation. Supporting Indigenous women and gender diverse people to develop and test innovative solutions to the challenges in their communities with capital, knowledge and networks could be life changing for them, their families and our Nations.”, added Sara Wolfe, Director of the Indigenous Innovation Initiative at Grand Challenges Canada.I am so excited to see more of our Indigenous women and gender diverse innovators and entrepreneurs realize their fullest potential.”

Innovation is an Indigenous value. When considering Indigenous peoples over history, it is apparent that it took creativity and resilience for Indigenous people to not only survive but thrive.” says Jeff Cyr, Chair of the Indigenous Innovation Council at Grand Challenges Canada.In an era of reconciliation, supporting Indigenous innovations is key to creating meaningful systems change across the country. The Indigenous Innovation Initiative provides support to organizations and businesses seeking to develop or expand their Indigenous social innovation and social enterprise projects with the goal of unlocking much-needed capital for these early-stage, high potential innovations.”

For more information about the platform and the program, the Indigenous Innovation Initiative invites you to visit its website,

The Indigenous Innovation Initiative is hosted by Grand Challenges Canada with support from the department of Women and Gender Equality (Canada) (WaGE), the McConnell Foundation and the Royal Bank of Canada Foundation.

For more information, please contact:

Sara Wolfe, Director or Leyla Razeghi, Program Officer

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About the Indigenous Innovation Initiative

The Indigenous Innovation Initiative is an innovation platform, currently hosted at Grand Challenges Canada. Programs are deeply rooted in Indigenous ways of knowing and being, supported and guided by the Indigenous Innovation Council. Our goal is to empower Indigenous innovators to identify and solve their own challenges, transform lives and drive inclusive growth through innovation and social entrepreneurship.

Indigenous innovation is not necessarily something new but may also be an idea based on traditional knowledge and practices applied to a new situation or context.  Created by Indigenous leaders, the Indigenous Innovation Initiative seeks to spark a new generation of Indigenous innovation and accelerate the emerging Indigenous economic ecosystem.

Innovators are supported through a seed-funding program with grants of up to $250,000 to develop and test Bold Ideas with Big Impact®.

About Grand Challenges Canada

One of the largest impact-first investors in Canada, Grand Challenges Canada has funded over 1,250 innovations championed by innovators in 105 countries. Funded by the Government of Canada and other partners, Grand Challenges Canada funds innovators in low- and middle-income countries and Canada.

Grand Challenges Canada estimates that these innovations have the potential to save up to 1.6 million lives and improve up to 51 million lives by 2030.

About Women and Gender Equality Canada (WaGE) Women’s Program

The objective of the Women’s Program is to achieve the full participation of women in the economic, social and democratic life of Canada. Funding is provided to eligible organizations in support of projects at the local, regional and national levels that address the following three priority areas:

  • Ending violence against women and girls
  • Improving women’s and girls’ economic security and prosperity
  • Encouraging women and girls in leadership and decision-making role