The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) has received a $500,000 investment from Facebook Canada, designed to establish an Indigenous business support fund, along with access to skills training and a membership program.
The investment includes access to Facebook’s Digital Skills Training Certificate Program. Along with cash grants provided by the CCAB’s support fund, training will be offered to help Indigenous business owners learn how to build their brand online while covering membership fees to ensure the program can support the participating businesses throughout 2021.
“This funding and digital training scholarships will help more Indigenous businesses get the support they need when they need it most.”
Applications for the program open on Thursday, December 3, and can be submitted online until December 12, at 5 p.m., or until the funds have been disbursed. Grants are distributed to eligible applications on a first-come-first-served basis.
“CCAB is thrilled to announce a collaboration with Facebook Canada and their support of Indigenous businesses in this rapidly changing economy,” said Tabatha Bull, president and CEO of the CCAB. “Our research shows that two thirds of Indigenous businesses do not use a traditional financial institution, increasing the burden to access capital. This funding and digital training scholarships will help more Indigenous businesses get the support they need when they need it most.”
In April, the federal government announced it was allocating $306 million to Indigenous businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the summer, the federal government made two additional commitments of $133 million and $41 million in support of Indigenous-owned businesses and projects.
In a column for Innovating Canada from June, Bull noted that the Indigenous community “has historically been under-served, under-resourced, and systemically kept out of the Canadian economy.” She argued that despite the government’s support during the pandemic, there was a delay in many programs closing the gap for Indigenous business support, leading to an increasingly negative impact.
There has been a noted lack of Indigenous representation in Canada’s tech sector. In a report from January 2019, the Brookfield Institute noted that only 1.2 percent of Canadian tech workers identified as Indigenous. A 2019 report from Minerva BC that surveyed 25 tech companies in British Columbia also found no Indigenous representation on boards or in executive positions.
Facebook Canada is not the first tech company to partner with Indigenous communities in Canada. Shopify partnered in June with four Indigenous-led organizations to explore approaches to Indigenous entrepreneurship education and learn how Shopify’s platform can better meet the needs of Indigenous entrepreneurs globally. In 2019, Blackberry and Microsoft partnered with Forrest Green to launch a project with the goal of helping Canadian Indigenous communities deploy new technology to improve their health, education, safety, and economic development.
“We know Indigenous-owned businesses are being hit hard right now, and as resilient and innovative as they are, they need all the support they can get,” said Garrick Tiplady, managing director for Facebook Canada. “We’re grateful to the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business for the opportunity to support Indigenous business owners, and we hope these grants will help as we work toward recovery.”