TRADE HEROES: Indigenous Box

Published On
April 12, 2024

The “Trade Heroes” series highlights Edmonton region companies who have ‘exportitude’ — the mindset and commitment to think globally when it comes to their business. 

Indigenous Box, an Edmonton-based corporate gifting startup, represents a beacon of innovation and social impact in the retail sector. Founded by Mallory and Kham Yawnghwe, the company is on a mission to drive economic reconciliation and promote Indigenous entrepreneurship globally. Over three years, Indigenous Box has grown to serve more than 600 clients.

Indigenous Box founder Mallory Yawnghwe said her growing company services airports across Canada and the United States. (Supplied)

“We procure products from Indigenous-owned businesses and do our best to champion them in spaces where corporations are looking for impactful, meaningful gifts,” Yawnghwe said, noting that her clientele includes major accounting firms, and tech giants such as Facebook and Amazon, in addition to institutional buyers.

“We’re serving all three levels of government, a variety of municipalities, and almost every airport across Canada, some in the United States,” Yawnghwe said.

The company’s corporate gifting solutions emphasize quality, utility, and cultural significance. It also offers seasonal subscription boxes, which ship quarterly and feature new products and vendors. It has an online marketplace as well as a retail space at the Edmonton International Airport, near Gate 64.

Indigenous Box has reached customers in 27 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Japan. This requires meticulous research into duties, taxes, customs, and other legislation that the business might run into while operating globally. And it requires a spirit of cooperation and reciprocity between suppliers, customers, and partners.

“We’re in the business of reconfiguring the Indigenous supply network, and part of that is having partners in these positions that already know the landscape,” she said.

Yawnghwe studied supply chain management at MacEwan University, graduating in 2018. She went on to earn her Supply Chain Management Professional Designation and worked with Alberta Infrastructure. This experience helped her “properly transition from intern to suddenly CEO,” she said.

Indigenous Box has fewer than 10 people on its team, but through their hard work and the network of partnerships the company has built up over the past three years, the company has been able to grow quickly. Edmonton Global, Explore Edmonton, and the City of Edmonton are just some of the organizations that Yawnghwe says have been instrumental in making introductions with people who want to support the business.

As Indigenous Box looks to the future, it remains committed to expanding its network of Indigenous entrepreneurs, with a goal of reaching 1,000 vendors by 2025. This ambition, coupled with ongoing support from their partners, positions Indigenous Box as a leader in the movement toward a more inclusive, culturally aware global economy.

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Christobelle Boily