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Addressing the funding gap for Indigenous entrepreneurs in Canada – Policy Options

March 12, 2024

Indigenous entrepreneurs still face a growth cliff caused by a lack of access to capital, despite a surging Indigenous economy.

Indigenous people were the first entrepreneurs to ply their trades on this land – as voyageurs, translators, trappers and traders.

Today, they create businesses at nine times the rate of non-Indigenous Canadians. Overall, the Indigenous economy in Canada is surging toward $100 billion per year.

However, despite these successes, Indigenous-led businesses often encounter a cliff when it comes to growth opportunities due to barriers to accessing capital.

Since I began working with Indigenous entrepreneurs more than a decade ago, one issue has consistently been raised by nearly every one of them: financing and funding.

My experience aligns with a study prepared by the Fraser Institute showing that even as the level of market capital available to Indigenous businesses in Canada grew between 2003 and 2013 to $5.9 billion from $2.8 billion, the gap in the amount of capital available to Indigenous businesses versus non-Indigenous businesses grew even faster.

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