Why reconciliation means supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs
Indigenous-led businesses help combat economic marginalization — but they face many barriers. TVO.org spoke with three organizations about how to foster entrepreneurship and keep money in communities.
From 2003 to 2011, the estimated number of Indigenous entrepreneurs across the country increased from 27,195 to 38,000. According to a countrywide survey from the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, more than 43,000 Indigenous people were self-employed in 2016 — 10,320 of them were based in Ontario.
But, as the Conference Board of Canada notes, research shows that Indigenous people continue to “face significant barriers to accessing various forms of support (e.g., capital, equity, business training, business planning) for their start-ups.” One of the most commonly referenced issues, it says, is locational — would-be business owners simply don’t have access to financial services.
And even when they can access such services, loans can be difficult to obtain: Indigenous entrepreneurs are sometimes seen as “high-risk,” says Shannin Metatawabin, CEO of the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association.
“We have policies that the Indian Act put in place that say we can’t put up security on our communities,” he says. “We’re not close to the market. We don't have any equity. Our families are not rich.”
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