The federal government is providing $500,000 to the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) to help increase the tools and resources for Indigenous entrepreneurs.
The federal investment, announced Thursday by Canada’s minister of small business Rechie Valdez, will go towards revamping CCAB’s Tools for Aboriginal Business website. The funding will also be used to help CCAB assess the new tools, funding, and training most-needed by Indigenous entrepreneurs and how the organizaiton’s existing support programs can be improved.
The new funding is also aimed to help the CCAB promote the 50-30 challenge, a federal government initiative that encourages businesses and diversity-focused organizations to increase the inclusion of diverse groups, such as Indigenous entrepreneurs, within workplaces.
CCAB has previously worked with organizations like Facebook Canada to establish an Indigenous business support fund.
“We are encouraged that the Government of Canada is taking an increased role across ministries to advance economic reconciliation and is recognizing that investments need to be made for equity to be achievable,” said president and CEO of CCAB Tabatha Bull in a statement. “This funding will not only allow Indigenous-led programs to be developed and strengthened but also government programs and policies to be built to benefit Indigenous entrepreneurs across the country.”
The 50-30 challenge encourages organizations in Canada to achieve 50% representation of women or non-binary individuals and 30% representation from other traditionally underrepresented groups, including racialized individuals, differently-abled individuals, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, in their boards or senior management.
The CCAB works to promote and strengthen business relationships between First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities and the broader Canadian business sector. In addition to providing resources, programs, and networking opportunities for Indigenous entrepreneurs, the organization has previously worked with Facebook Canada to establish an Indigenous business support fund.
In recent years, a number of reports have pointed to unique challenges faced by Indigenous entrepreneurs. A February report from the First Nations Technology Council (FNTC) examined labour market opportunities and constraints, skills development gaps, and perceptions about Indigenous employment and training across BC’s economy.
FNTC found that 23 percent of Indigenous-owned businesses in BC are technology-focused, but of those tech businesses, 80 percent employ less than 10 workers. The FNTC said that as the number of Indigenous-owned businesses in the province grows, so too will the ability to employ more First Nations, Metis, and Inuit workers.
The report identified access to capital as a barrier for these Indigenous tech firms, and called for private and public sector organizations to help address systemic, workplace, and interpersonal barriers individuals currently face.
This announcement follows Minister Valdez’s $2.7-million commitment from the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund to create free-of-charge educational programs for aspiring women entrepreneurs at the École des entrepreneurs du Québec on Monday.
Image courtesy Rechie Valdez via Twitter.