Opportunity for a road trip will serve to document life after COVID while promoting an Indigenous business
“We really want to highlight the communities that are coming back to life after COVID. We really want them to talk about how things have been so shut down, how hard it is to come together as a community to celebrate’
As the darkness of the pandemic begins to lift, communities across Canada are coming back to life.
This new light is something Steven Vanloffeld, Founder and CEO of eSupply Canada, wants to capture through a new initiative his company is undertaking.
Until April 29, eSupply will be accepting applications from Indigenous people for two positions on an all-expenses-paid trip across Canada. Individuals will walk the Powwow Trail during the summer of 2022, visiting communities of their choosing. Additionally, individuals will receive $10,000 each upon completion of the project.
The idea is for the team to report on celebrations and events taking place across the country as pandemic restrictions are lifted.
And “the winners will promote the business and the franchise opportunity as another model of community prosperity, while documenting the return to life of our communities,” Vanloffeld explained.
Officially launched in 2020, eSupply provides industrial products, office supplies and personal protective equipment.
In his role as band councillor, Vanloffeld said he was amazed at how much money his community had left over from the purchase of these products.
“When I served on the council of my First Nation, Saugeen First Nation, I basically saw resources leaving our community going to big box retailers, to local towns, many of whom take our business for granted. “, explained Vanloffeld.
He decided he wanted to provide an alternative for purchasing supplies that would put funds back into each community’s budget.
“Communities can start buying themselves. It’s a way to keep capital in communities, to employ people,” he explained. “So the indigenous communities own this business, so they can start sourcing office, janitorial and industrial supplies. Keep these revenues in the community.
During the road trip, contest winners will set up booths at each event to showcase eSupply and create brand awareness.
“One of the challenges I face is brand recognition within communities. Like it or not, people have a long-standing relationship with big business,” Vanloffeld said, adding that this is an opportunity for communities to put a face to the eSupply name.
“eSupply was created for the community and is meant to be within the community,” said Emma Givens, project marketing manager.
In order to spread the information about his franchise opportunity in the many territories of Canada, Vanloffeld felt that the most effective way was to organize this contest.
During the road trip, contest winners will sit down with elders, youth and other members of each community to document how the nation is being brought back to life after COVID through celebrations.
“In addition to learning more about the local community, about the traditions, about the local powwow itself, we really want to hear more personal stories (and) what it really means for everyone to reunite,” Givens said.
“We really want to highlight the communities that are coming back to life after COVID. We really want them to talk about how things got so shut down, how hard it was to come together as a community to celebrate.
These stories will then be shared on social media and the eSupply website.
For this endeavor to be successful, the winning candidates will undergo various trainings provided by the eSupply team.
“They will learn all the best practices,” Givens explained, saying people will be trained in three main areas: journalism, marketing and entrepreneurship.
Journalism training will include interview techniques, photography and video, and what to look for to reach a target audience.
Marketing will include various strategies for social media, copywriting and graphic design.
In the entrepreneurship category, Vanloffeld will coach individuals on how eSupply is franchised, how to run pop-up kiosks, and strategies related to networking.
All training will be conducted virtually, Givens explained, adding that training will continue throughout the summer to ensure the most valuable outcome.
“We’re going to refine that exact content strategy working with them and taking their perspective as well,” Givens said. “Each week during the road trip, they will have a check-in call with me and our founder Steve.”
Vanloffeld said the winners will also decide their own path through Canada based on their own history and connections. This could include points of interest to them regarding developments or their home town.
“It’s entirely up to them, wherever they want to start, they will set the plan for how they want to travel for the two-month period,” he said, adding that flights, gas, food and accommodation costs will all be covered by eSupply.
Vanloffeld hopes he can provide a memorable experience for contest winners, while raising awareness of the franchise opportunity with eSupply.
The finalists will be announced on April 29, 2022.
Crystal St. Pierre is a Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) reporter for Windspeaker.com. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.