Indigenous Advancement of Cultural Entrepreneurship (I-ACE) receives international recognition

September 7, 2023, Victoria B.C. – The I-ACE program, Canada’s only Indigenous co-designed and community-delivered entrepreneurship program, won the 2023 EDI Community Engagement Initiative of the Year Award for the Americas at the Triple E Awards. I-ACE, an initiative of the Gustavson School of Business and Tribal Resources Investment Corporation (TRICORP), received the award on June 27 in recognition of its exceptional societal impact.

The Triple E Awards recognize entrepreneurship and engagement in higher education and emphasize the important role that universities have in their communities and ecosystems. 

“This award emphasizes the transformative power and tremendous opportunity of extending co-designed entrepreneurship to Indigenous communities worldwide,” says Brent Mainprize, co-director of I-ACE and teaching professor at Gustavson. “It highlights the powerful vision and crucial role of TRICORP and the University of Victoria in delivering exceptional entrepreneurial education and mentorship directly within communities.” 

“This recognition validates the importance of developing meaningful community partnerships and enabling customization of entrepreneurship education to not only meet the needs of Indigenous communities but also the needs of individual community members seeking personal self-determination.” says Cory Stephen, co-director of I-ACE. 

The Triple E Awards, organized by the Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities (ACEEU), stand as a global platform that acknowledges and celebrates engagement and entrepreneurship in higher education. ACEEU, the only quality assurance body dedicated to recognizing engagement and entrepreneurship, aims to lead a new era in higher education by evaluating, supporting, and fostering the potential of educational institutions on their path to third mission excellence. 

The I-ACE program’s achievement at the Triple E Awards stems from its profound impact on advancing cultural entrepreneurship among Indigenous communities. The program has played a pivotal role in supporting and fostering business development without foregoing traditional Indigenous values. I-ACE provides the skills, knowledge and mentorship that empowers entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses that bring economic benefits and strengthen their communities. Over the past 10 years, I-ACE has graduated 847 students from 59 cohorts held nationwide, and proudly announce 277 graduates have started new businesses.