Indigenous Entrepreneur

Find out the Funding Sources for Indigenous Entrepreneurs

Indigenous people in Canada have a number of funding opportunities to tap into for starting businesses, but ironically many of these grants and funds are under-utilized largely because they are not well-known and not widely marketed. Many of such funding sources are often difficult to find, even with an online search. 

Sharp Business Plans benefits its clients by having the resources to dig out these opportunities and the experience to provide valuable assistance to Indigenous communities, as we’ve done many times before. However, as anyone who has applied for business funding will know, a key requirement for a successful funding bid is with a substantial and well composed business plan.

Even if an applicant has a great idea for a business with the skill and experience to make the business take off, they may be denied the opportunity to make it work because they did not have the skills or the resources to put together a strong business plan. 

It seems like a chicken and egg conundrum. You need funding to start a business, but lack the funding to build a business plan that you will need, in order to get the funding. So, you may end up feeling stuck before you even start.

Fortunately, it is possible to pay for the business plan retroactively, once funding has been granted. So much for the chicken and the egg problem.

It should be encouraging to know that the cost of a business plan is marginal relative to the costs of launching a business. And there are some organizations that will fund the cost of hiring a business plan expert. Two of these funding sources worth noting are outlined here, albeit there are very specific requirements for eligibility.

The Clarence Campeau Development Fund (CCDF) assists Saskatchewan Metis entrepreneurs specifically. Among its offerings is a Business Plan Program that allows entrepreneurs to engage the services of professional consultants to do the research and planning necessary to develop a business plan and attract the appropriate financing. CCDF can consider funding up to 75% of the costs up to $10,000.

In addition, the Metis Entrepreneur Equity Program Fund assists Metis entrepreneurs by providing equity through a non-repayable contribution up to $100,000. 

A Business Development Program Fund provides equity through an interest-free loan of up to $300,000. 

A Major Business Development Program Fund assists Metis entrepreneurs in the energy and resources sectors and other large-scale business initiatives, that fund between $300,000 and $1 million. 

The Women’s Business Development Program Fund assists Saskatchewan Metis women by providing an interest-free loan up to $100,000.

One province over in Manitoba, the First Peoples Economic Growth Fund (FPEGF) also offers financial support to hire business plan experts. The FPEGF is a joint economic development initiative between the Manitoba government and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

Its Business Plan Assistance program gives support to Manitoba First Nation individuals or First Nation-based enterprises that the Fund believes have a strong business concept and demonstrate a need for financial assistance to hire a professional business plan consultant.

Funding for the business plan is available up to 75% of the costs to a maximum of $20,000. The funding is non-repayable. However, the applicant is expected to pay the first 25% of costs of the business plan fees.

In addition, the FPEGF has other programs to support Indigenous business entrepreneurs whose projects align with the fund’s goals.

The Joint Venture Program supports large-scale First Nations enterprises from $200,000 to $1million.

The Entrepreneur Loan Program provides up to $200, capital and/or working capital through subordinated interest-free  loans to enhance the applicant’s ability to leverage financing from other institutions and agencies. 

The Community Economic Expansion Program will fund up to $300,000 to community-owned First Nation businesses for start-up, expansions or acquisitions. The intent is that these viable businesses will provide for the creation of wealth and jobs for First Nations.

Here are more programs that support Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program: Access to Capital promotes entrepreneurship in Indigenous communities and seeks to increase the number of viable Indigenous-owned businesses. The program has two components: access to capital and business opportunities.

Metis Voyageur Development Fund This is a Métis owned and controlled economic development agency that finances up to $1.5 million. The fund is flexible with few restrictions and access to financing is offered where commercial lenders may not. The fund works with Metis people who reside in Ontario and whose business is in Ontario.

Metis Economic Development Fund is a financing program to assist businesses that are owned or controlled by Metis in Manitoba and provides loans for start-up, growth, acquisition, or expansion purposes from $20,000 to $500,000.

Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation(SIEF): Contribution Program is a program designed to support business start-ups, business acquisitions, or expansions to existing businesses. The Contribution Program is a conditional non-repayable financial contribution up to a maximum of $99,999.00 of total projects costs for individual applications and up to a maximum of $250,000.00 of total project costs for community or band-owned enterprise applications.

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) – Indigenous Entrepreneur Loan offers financing of up to $350,000 to grow or scale a business. It works with partners that support the Indigenous business community across Canada.

First Citizens’ Fund provides financial awards to Indigenous students enrolled in post-secondary education. Bursaries between $700-$1,200 are awarded to students who meet all eligibility requirements and who demonstrate significant financial need.