Who Are We
The POA Foundation is a private, charitable Canadian foundation that works to promote education, nurture entrepreneurship and improve governance. Aditya Jha, chairman of the POA Foundation and founder of Project Beyshick, is a successful information technology entrepreneur. In fall 2004, Mr. Jha heard Grand Chief Stan Beardy speak about the challenges facing the people of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.
Mr. Jha was inspired to proactively involve himself in a program that would be a catalyst for change in Canada’s native populations by nurturing entrepreneurship among aboriginal people. This is how Project Beyshick began.
Based on the focus areas of the POA Foundation, the primary goals of Project Beyshick are:
- To encourage Canadian aboriginals to take an active interest in the corporate world and entrepreneurship.
- To provide participants with firsthand experience in a business environment, through a job shadow engagement with a senior-level executive or business mentor.
- To demonstrate how members of different ethnic groups have participated in the success stories of corporate Canada.
- To provide insight into how Torontoâ??s dynamic marketplace can support as well as challenge business leaders and entrepreneurs from all cultural backgrounds.
- To help Canadian aboriginal communities build a network of friends with corporate Canada.
First Nations communities through the establishment of a Social Venture Capital Fund (SVCF)
The POA Foundation plans to continue nurturing entrepreneurs from.
This project will receive its seed funding from the POA Educational Foundation and other contributors who share the goal of nurturing entrepreneurship among Canadian aboriginal communities. These contributors will be successful entrepreneurs who will also commit to mentoring the prospective candidates.
The disbursement of the SVCF capital will be based on the same business principles as those used by mainstream venture capital funds. The profits from the SVCF’s investments will be returned to the fund and reinvested into Canada’s indigenous communities. This creates a self-sustaining investment vehicle for successful entrepreneurs to invest in emerging entrepreneurs from First Nations communities. Under no circumstances will the capital ever be returned to the original donors.
We expect that successful aboriginal entrepreneurs will serve as role models for their communities. This will encourage others to get involved with profitable initiatives. In turn, we also hope that these types of programs will encourage mutual respect and an understanding of interdependence between all communities in Canada.
Size and Scope
Our aim is to create, organize and run Project Beyshick so effectively and successfully that it sparks a groundswell of interest in the public and progressive organizations. We hope Project Beyshick will capture the imagination of many groups and become an ongoing, large-scale program in Canada. In subsequent years, we expect that participants will job shadow CEOs around the globe.
Project Beyshick 2005 elicited a great deal of excitement and support from participating CEOs and executives of corporate Canada. The program received extensive media coverage and volunteer support from people within different walks of life. Various levels of NAN leadership and staff were actively involved in the project. The job shadowing component of Project Beyshick provided participants with an excellent opportunity to observe the working life of a CEO or a senior executive and be exposed to the day-to-day operations of a large corporation.
Canada: The Face of Tomorrow’s World
Canada is among the eight largest economies in the world. It is also one of the most ethnically diverse countries, containing a powerful mix of recent immigrants from around the globe, descendants of earlier immigrants and First Nations people. This combination is seen as an asset by Canadians, as it provides us with an opportunity to create a pluralistic society that embraces the gifts offered by its entire people.
In order to continue strengthening this society, however, it is particularly important to be aware of how Canada relates to its First Nations people. For the last five hundred years, Canada’s native society has been weakened by economic, political, social and geographic segregation. The inequitable relationship that exists between native and non-native societies has an impact on Canada’s image, in its own eyes and in the eyes of the world. As a country that prides itself on diversity and peacefulness, it is essential that mutual respect and partnership develops between the natives and the settlers of Canada.
Change requires a combination of individual initiative from within aboriginal societies and participation in activities such as Project Beyshick. At the same time, change also requires the involvement of mainstream leaders, especially those who are the stewards of national economic prosperity. The onus is on both Canada’s native and mainstream communities to work together, to overcome our historic challenges and to bridge the gap that divides our Canadian society.
Project Beyshick is an involved process that will benefit not only Canada and Canadians, but will also provide an example to other nations of what tomorrow’s world could look like.
Such an endeavor should ensure every person in Canada is presented with the opportunity to contribute and thrive. When all sections of the population are fully engaged as active participants in the economy, we can begin to build a society characterized by:
- Social tolerance & equality
- Economic dynamism & prosperity
- Creativity through diversity