SAP Working in Tandem with Indigenous-Owned Business Leaders

Over the last few years, companies of all sizes have had to reconsider how parts, or the entirety, of their business operates. SAP’s Pro Bono for Economic Equity (PBEE) program is dedicated to supporting systemically under-resourced businesses in our communities. In its inaugural year in Canada, the team focused on supporting Indigenous-owned businesses who were faced with transforming digitally and could use support in driving their growth journey.

The program focused on five companies that turned to SAP to help them address various business challenges. Twenty SAP employees worked over six weeks to address the identified critical business challenges these entrepreneurs were facing. Overall, the program was a huge success with all the companies feeling confident in their business’ future growth and we congratulate you all on your hard work and dedication.

Here are their stories:

Chims Guest House

In Port Alberni, British Columbia, the owners of Chims Guest House are offering a unique experience through Indigenous-designed guest house accommodations. Naomi Nicholson came to SAP with many challenges, such as building an online presence, improving the booking system, and IT Application Controls (ITAC) certifications. The SAP team started with an analysis of the entire business to build a structured approach and worked to update the website by defining the target customer profile, connecting the website to the new Reservation Management Systems (RMS) booking engine, offered web search optimization and messaging for local self-promotion, and much more.

“Building an online presence is understandably challenging and I could not have done it without the help of the SAP PBEE team. I am filled with gratitude as I now feel I have a more equitable chance to compete in this market,” said Naomi Nicholson, Co-Owner Chims Guest House.

Totem Design House

Totem Design House specializes in Native designed apparel, jewelry, home décor and fine art, and works to give back to their community as a social enterprise. Totem was at a standstill in their growth strategy. With a retail and e-commerce business, their plan was to expand their B2B wholesale program and order management, production, and processing, and payment methods to reduce fees with high volume, but didn’t have backend operations established.

The SAP team finalized a solution to digitize operations by implementing a small Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, for manufacturing, workflow, efficiencies, and cost purposes.

“The way I was doing work on the wholesale side of the business before this program was all manual and I did not have an efficient system in order to expand our wholesale operations. The SAP PBEE team found a suitable solution that I can now implement to improve and streamline by business operations,” said Erin Brillon, Owner Totem Design House.

Red Rebel Armour

Designing and making sustainable and authentic Indigenous streetwear, Red Rebel Armour works hard to represent Indigenous culture in Canada. Their goal was to seek support on a 2023 growth plan and develop a transformation roadmap to focus on their social mission of amplifying cultural awareness and support the healing path of relatives returning from the criminal justice system.

After conversations with owner Sean Rayland-Boubar, the SAP team needed to implement a market analysis for 2023, with a complete repositioning process that changes the way services are delivered within an institution.

“As a hands-on and very involved owner, I commend the SAP team for being able to let me step back so they could immerse themselves into my business to support me. I now have a clearer vision for where I want my business to go, along with being equipped with the skills to make it happen,” said Sean Rayland-Boubar, Owner Red Rebel Armour.

Aurora Heat

Aurora Heat provides hand-crafted hand, foot, and body warmers made from sustainably sourced beaver fur. Expanding on the sensory properties of this material, they recently created a new product designed to cater to those experiencing depression, anxiety and stress. They sought SAP expertise to break into this trillion-dollar market, while preserving brand values and identity.

The SAP team planned to categorize the product under something more niche such as sensory mental health wellness, but by conducting extensive market research and helping the small business segment the market, they discovered a larger market could be addressed. This was an amazing opportunity for the SAP team to strengthen collaboration and for Aurora Heat expand market research capacity.

Sean Myomi Hougan from Aurora Heat shared, “Our growing social enterprise operates with a small and nimble team. We are grateful that we were able to benefit from the market research expertise of SAP marketing consultants and look forward to further analyzing the ideas they brought forward for a successful market launch.”

Jelly Academy

The SAP PBEE team conducted two projects for Jelly Academy, a digital marketing company focused on supporting individuals reskill and upskill to land promotions and new jobs in digital marketing.

The first project helped Jelly Academy to create a regulatory Non-Profit Organization (NPO) body to ensure quality control of their digital marketing bootcamps. The SAP team worked with the owners to brainstorm and design working files, conducted interviews to assess the grading system and drafted an NPO checklist.

The second project was focused on supporting Jelly Academy with tactics on what structures and systems they needed to navigate an anticipated growth trajectory, while increasing outreach in order to partner with organizations. This will enable Jelly Academy to remove the barriers of accessibility to Indigenous people and be able to integrate their trainings into university curriculums.

“Working with SAP felt like a supercharger boost into our business. They came alongside us and brought the people power to take our business to the next level with a project that we were needing to bring to life. It was a huge gift and I’m so thankful for the team. I’m so excited for the months to come as we roll out this work and see the fruit of their labour,” said Darian Kovacs, Jelly Academy.

Programs like PBEE strengthen ties with under-resourced communities by supporting entrepreneurs in building capacity for long-term economic opportunity through pro bono volunteering. At the end of the six-week program, participating business owners receive a toolkit to tackle their strategic challenges, knowledge share with participants about life as Indigenous entrepreneurs, and develop business skills that will carry them forward.

“I’m blown away by the success of this program and am proud that this also allows SAP Canada to continue its reconciliation journey by supporting Indigenous-owned businesses,” said Brian Moore, Chief Operating Office, SAP Canada.