Facebook backs #WeThrive campaign to help Indigenous businesses

Facebook is providing free shoppable ads to Indigenous-owned businesses as part of a new campaign called #WeThrive.

The campaign was developed with Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB), EntrepreNorth, Pow Wow Pitch, and Raven Indigenous Capital, along with Shopify.

“To celebrate Indigenous owned businesses, we’re creating #WeThrive, which is an Indigenous buying guide,” said Garrick Tiplady, managing director of Facebook Canada. “Think of it as a shoppable ad campaign, both Facebook and Instagram, featuring products from Indigenous businesses across Canada.”

In development for several months, the campaign was created in part because Indigenous entrepreneurs have been hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic, said Tiplady. According to a recent report from CCAB, 73% of Indigenous-owned businesses were hurt by the pandemic, with 37% facing temporary closure. Most (72%) need financial support, but many are hesitant to take on additional debt.

The good news, he said, is that many Canadians want to support those businesses, with most (76%) believing that shopping Indigenous businesses is “an important pathway to start the healing process with Canada’s relationship with the First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.”

Any Indigenous-owned business is eligible, as long as it has a Facebook or Instagram presence, a Shopify ecommerce site, and a physical product that can be shipped anywhere in Canada. Businesses can apply until July 30, with the campaign launching shortly afterwards and running for three weeks.

“Now is the time to reflect on how we can lift each other up in a more collaborative way by contributing to the Indigenous economy,” said Tabatha Bull, president and CEO of Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, in a release introducing the campaign. “#WeThrive provides the opportunity and platform to buy Indigenous and foster economic growth that benefits all Canadians. Spend your money where it can create a positive impact and start your own path toward reconciliation.”

“One way that reconciliation happens is through trade—when we buy products from and support Indigenous entrepreneurs,” said Sunshine Tenasco, CEO of Pow Wow Pitch, a grassroots community by and for Indigenous entrepreneurs. “The power of this program to help Indigenous entrepreneurs reach an audience at the scale of Facebook and Shopify is a fantastic opportunity for Indigenous businesses and those who want to support Indigenous communities.”

Creative for the campaign uses the artwork of Alanah Astehtsi Otsistohkwa (Morningstar) Jewell, a mixed French-First Nations artist. “‘We Thrive’ encapsulates growth, resilience and beauty,” said Jewell, who is Bear Clan from Oneida Nation of the Thames. “The sunflower—representing self and individuality—grows tall and strong, reaching towards the sunlight. The sunflower is supported by other forms of creation, including birds, plants, flowers and berries, all of which are growing out and around the sunflower.”

Her creative is being used as the feature art for the shoppable ads. Users on Instagram and Facebook feed will first see that creative, with four of featured products under it, said Tiplady. “Those are going to be delivered dynamically, meaning Canadians are going to see different products based on their personal interests,” he said.

Once someone clicks or taps the product, a catalogue opens up and the user sees products across a number of different categories that are personalized to the user. If they want to purchase, they click on that product and go directly to the Shopify site.

“It highlights not only the ability for Canadians to discover Indigenous products but then also directly purchase, and so hopefully we’re driving economic activity,” said Tiplady.

David Brown