Earlier this year Souris resident and owner-operator of Exact Shine Auto Detailing, Mia Toews, landed multiple grants through the Southwest Business Expo's business pitch initiative.  Next week Toews will take to the stage again to compete in the Dragon's Quest competition at the Vision Quest Conference and Trade Show in Winnipeg.

The 3-day annual event brings innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders together to discuss and promote Indigenous business, community and economic development across the province, this being its 26th year.

Attendees participate, network and interact through workshops, trade show exhibits, keynote motivational speakers, cultural presentations and more, all the while celebrating both Indigenous business and culture.

Dragon's Quest is the portion of the conference which showcases entrepreneurs who wish to begin or expand their business footprint in their communities. This business plan competition inspires entrepreneurship among Indigenous people, with cash prizes awarded in rural and urban categories.

Finalists will present their business ideas at Vision Quest to a panel of judges and a live audience of delegates, with the winners announced at the Gala Banquet on the final evening.  For Mia Toews, operating her home-based business for only a year, this is an exciting opportunity and one that could land her $7,400 if she wins first place.

"I got an email asking me to send them a business plan, so I got working on that, which is my very first business plan," shares Toews. "It was a little much to take in!  I can see why people get discouraged and not wanting to do it because that's a lot of work!  But yes, I put a 21-page business plan together and included my credentials to show that I am Indigenous, then sent it through and 3 weeks later I heard back saying I was one of the final 4 competitors!"

Toews says she will be using a version of her SW Business Expo PowerPoint presentation, noting that she has a shorter time frame to share her business to this panel of judges.  "Unfortunately, I only have 6 minutes to present my pitch instead of 10 minutes that I had at the Southwest Business Expo.  So, I just revamped it a little bit, firmed it up a bit, and put the key points in it."

Secrets of her success, Toews says she advertises a lot and provides professional customer service on each of her clients' vehicles.  "I like to show people my before and after photos, to show them really what your vehicle can look like when you bring it in, and then when you pick it up.... people are in awe at such a service that's offered in Souris." 

The Vision Quest Conference and Trade Show takes place May 16-18th at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg.  The Dragon's Quest competition will be held Thursday, May 18th.

Dragon's Quest is a business plan competition that inspires entrepreneurship among Indigenous people, with cash prizes awarded in rural and urban categories.  Delegates travel from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northern Ontario and Alberta. Indigenous leaders and entrepreneurs from as far away as Nunavut, NWT and the U.S. have also participated in Dragon's Quest.

Please listen to more of the interview with Exact Shine Auto Detailing, Mia Toews, and CJRB's Barry Lamb below: