Member Highlight

Waubetek Business Development Corporation

Waubetek Business Development Corporation, located in northeastern Ontario, is an Aboriginal-owned and controlled organization that provides funding to First Nations and Aboriginal entrepreneurs. It is one of 61 Community Futures Development Corporations in Ontario. Its service area includes 27 First Nations communities in northeastern and southern Ontario along with Aboriginal entrepreneurs off-reserve.

Waubetek was incorporated on August 29, 1989. Its office officially opened on October 2, 1989, with four staff in place, including Dawn Madahbee-Leach as general manager. Later, Dawn participated in the AFI task force that created NACCA.

Waubetek offers business loans, the Aboriginal Business Financing Program (ABFP), community economic grants, and the Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund (SEDF). For more information about the application process, visit

For fiscal year 2015-16, Waubetek received $2.5 million through the Aboriginal Economic Development Fund. This was part of a $15 million investment by the Ontario Government in organizations that support Aboriginal business development.

Since 1989, Waubetek has provided approximately $62 million in financing and business support services to 2,370 Aboriginal entrepreneurs in a variety of industries.

Waubetek has a robust youth outreach program that has trained approximately 440 youth over six years through the Youth Job Connect Program. This program is for Aboriginal youth ages 19-29 who are out of school and unemployed. It provides up to 60 hours of job training as well as mentoring and coaching.

Waubetek contributes to educational opportunities for Aboriginal youth through the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Student Bursary Fund. Post-secondary students who attend a business-related program can receive a $500 scholarship to use for program expenses. Waubetek hosts the Annual Charity Golf Classic each August to raise funds for this program.

Waubetek supports Aboriginal women entrepreneurs through its Annual Aboriginal Women Business Day. This training provides opportunities for Aboriginal women to develop leadership skills.

Every two years, Waubetek hosts the Business Awards Gala to honor the accomplishments of Aboriginal entrepreneurs within the Waubetek service area. At the event, four business owners are recognized for their achievements and ability to overcome challenges and barriers. All Aboriginal businesses are celebrated, and entrepreneurs have an opportunity for networking and developing partnerships.

Waubetek hosts the Annual Economic Forum, which provides opportunities for First Nations leadership, economic development staff, and Aboriginal entrepreneurs to learn from experts in financing and management. Waubetek also hosts the Annual Economic Development Officers Session to present workshops on topics such as proposal writing and board governance to local economic development officers.

Waubetek is successful because its board members participate in community outreach and know the communities they serve. They understand the culture, and stakeholders have a vested interest in seeing economic progress. Loans provided reflect the needs of the communities and impact the entire economy.

Video from Nationtalk - Dawn Madahbee-Leach, Interim Chair, National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, GM Waubetek Business Development Corporation

Contact Information:

Waubetek Business Development Corporation
6 Rainbow Valley Road
P.O. Box 209
Birch Island, ON
P0P 1A0

Phone: (705) 285-4275
Fax: (705) 285-4584

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