Upstart online retailer from Nunavut wins entrepreneurship award
Arctic Fresh Inc. now moves on to Startup Canada’s national competition
An Igloolik-based online food retailer that launched less than two years ago is already winning accolades far beyond the boundaries of Nunavut.
Arctic Fresh Inc., which now serves 12 Baffin communities, as well as Kuujjuaq in Nunavik, won Startup Canada’s north region Social Enterprise Award last week, at a ceremony in Whitehorse.
The web-based business, which Arctic Fresh CEO Rhoda Angutimarik and her partner Merlyn Recinos started in September 2017, uses the Nutrition North Canada food subsidy system to supply its customers with lower-priced store-bought food.
“When I was a kid, we had a hard time; we had to skip meals because of food insecurity. I am also a teacher in Igloolik and I still see it today,” Angutimarik said in a news release.
“I knew we had to do something about it and help people get access to affordable and fresh food,” she said.
Arctic Fresh uses an online shopping interface, with a back end designed by Shopify, to offer simplified online grocery shopping for Baffin residents.
The price listed for each item in its online store represents its landed cost: retail price plus the cost of packing and shipping it.
Nutrition North Canada subsidies, which can vary from community to community, are worked into the online prices posted for all NNC-eligible products.
On their website, customers can find meats, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, frozen foods, beverages and numerous non-food items, such as cleaning and personal care products, disposable diapers, and small electronic products for the kitchen, like coffee makers and toasters.
Customers must spend a minimum of $150 per online order. Using a team in Ottawa to put each order together, Arctic Fresh ships directly to communities via First Air cargo.
Having won the regional Social Enterprise Award for the North, Arctic Fresh Inc. will now move on to Startup Canada’s national competition.
The national winners will be announced at a “grand finale” event to be held in Toronto this October.
Uasau Soap Inc. of Iqaluit also took home an award from Whitehorse: the Entrepreneur’s Choice Award.
“Startup Canada is proud to celebrate excellence and enduring impact across Canada’s territories by celebrating the entrepreneurs, innovators and support ecosystem that are making it happen in the North,” Victoria Lennox, the president of Startup Canada, said in the release.
Startup Canada represents about 200,000 entrepreneurs across Canada. It describes its annual awards as the “Oscars” of the Canadian entrepreneurship community.