Starting and running a business is always challenging, but if you’re a First Nation or Indigenous citizen of Canada, it can be even more difficult. To help you out, Canadian government agencies and private enterprises offer a range of grants and funding opportunities. These funds can help to defray start-up costs, and if you’re ready to grow, there are also grants to help with expansion expenses.
BDC Indigenous Entrepreneur Loan
The Business Development Bank of Canada has specific loan programs earmarked just for Indigenous people in Canada. As of 2017, the bank has committed $289 million to over 500 Indigenous clients throughout the country. Loans are worth up to $250,000, and there are nine account managers dedicated exclusively to this product. If you qualify, you can use loan funds to purchase business assets, cover start up capital, or pay for franchise fees. Whether you want to start your own dream or launch your own Tim Horton’s franchise, you may want to check out these loans.
You can also use these loans to start exporting or to top up your working capital. Best of all, these loans offer flexible repayment terms, and BDC gives a portion of the interest you pay back to your community. That’s a win-win for everyone.
Aboriginal Tourism Development Funding Support Program
If you own a tourism business, you may be able to access up to $10,000 in funding to expand. To qualify, your business must be at least 51 percent owned by Aboriginal people. The grant is available throughout the country, and annually, between 10 and 15 businesses receive this grant. Typically, this program only accepts applications once a year in the fall.
Indigenous Economic Development Fund
Based in Ontario, the Indigenous Economic Development Fund offers funding through three different programs: The Business and Community Fund Program, the Economic Diversification Grants Program, and the Regional Partnership Grants Program. Each of these programs offers grants to promising businesses, organizations, and projects run by Indigenous people in Ontario.
For the Business and Community Fund, startups, early stage, and expanding businesses can apply for grants and loans. You must apply through an Aboriginal Financial Institution, such as Two Rivers Community Development Centre. If you have an organization doing a project that diversifies your local economy, such as marketing to external investors or setting up a co-op, you may be able to qualify for up to a $100,000 grant through the diversification program. Finally, the partnership grants program covers half of costs up to $250,000 per year on approved projects. This fund is designed to help business owners who are trying to help their communities in general.
Aboriginal Initiatives Fund III
Based in Quebec, the Aboriginal Initiatives Fund III provides loan guarantees to qualifying Indigenous business owners. Launched in 2017, the program has earmarked $135 million in funding to be distributed over a five-year period. In particular, the project is looking for applicants whose businesses promise to boost economic and social growth within their communities. The program is divided into several different categories. For instance, there is a specific channel for Aboriginal people in urban environments. To qualify for funding from that particular program, your organization must be a nonprofit, headquartered in an urban environment, and providing direct services such as health or education to Aboriginal people. If you’re finding it difficult to get funding from a traditional bank, this guarantee may help.
JEDI Aboriginal Development Fund
If you want to start a business in New Brunswick, you may want to check out the JEDI Aboriginal Development Fund. This fund is just for people who are in the very initial stages of starting their business, and it offers a grant to cover half of start up costs up to $2,500. To qualify, you must be a First Nation resident of New Brunswick. The funds should be used for business plans, marketing plans, training management, seminars related to your industry, or entrepreneurship development.
Loans and Grants From the Kakivak Association
The Kakivak Association is devoted to helping Inuit people in the Baffin region. The association’s Makigiaqvik Loans are secured loans worth up to $50,000, and you can take up to seven years to repay the funds. Sivummut Grants offer qualifying business between $5,000 and $25,000 for startup and expansion. Because it’s a grant, you don’t ever have to pay it back! If you’re an artist or a crafts person, you can apply for a $1,000 grant to buy carving tools or a $2,500 grant to get a sewing machine. That may be just the kickstart you need to start a successful business based on your talents.
Clarence Campeau Development Fund
If you’re a business owner of Metis ancestry located in Saskatchewan, check out the Clarence Campeau Development Fund. You can apply to cover up to 65 percent of a project costing up to $10,000. If you’re a youth between the ages of 18 and 35, you can also qualify for special funding. This is a great way to get a leg up while pursuing your dreams.
Housing Internship Initiative for First Nations and Inuit Youth
Hiring new employees can be expensive, but this program helps to offset those costs. If you own a construction firm, renovation company, or another type of housing-related company operated on a First Nation reserve or in an Inuit community, you can get a grant to cover the cost of hiring First nation or Inuit youth. Youths must be between 15 and 30. To qualify, you must pay for the youth’s travel and accommodation and agree to hire them for at least two months. This helps you and youths in the area.
To find out about more opportunities, check out the Canada Business Network. The website has countless opportunities for all types of business owners. It includes grants, loans, and other types of financial assistance, and using the options on the side of the page, you can narrow your search so it only shows opportunities for Indigenous people.