Capital Corporations are key and essential players within the Indigenous business economy whose contributions help generate and cultivate innovation.
As most people know, a dynamic small business sector with strong entrepreneurship is critical to economic development. But what is the greatest barrier for Indigenous entrepreneurs to meet with success? Access to capital. More than half of Indigenous entrepreneurs rely on personal savings for business start-ups. And that’s where Aboriginal Financial Institutions come in.
In BC, the engines which are providing access to funding are the province’s Aboriginal Capital Corporations. Cliff Fregin, past CEO of New Relationship Trust and current COO of Indspire, an organization committed to investing in the education of Indigenous people, said it best, “the Aboriginal Capital Corporations are the unsung heroes of Indigenous entrepreneurship in this province.”
The National Indigenous Economic Development Board’s June 2019 Progress Report states that Indigenous businesses are increasingly becoming important and innovative contributors to the Canadian economy.
Carol Anne Hilton, 2013 Alumni of the Indigenous Business Award (IBA) program, and founder of the Indigenomics Institute, comments that the impact of these Capital Corporations is “improving lives, fueling economic growth, furthering reconciliation, and providing a growing young workforce with opportunity. Success breeds success and recognizing Indigenous organizations builds awareness of Indigenous leadership, models a path for others, and inspires further success. This is Indigenomics in action.”
New Relationship Trust (NRT) provides funding to various Capital Corporations and has been a strong and stalwart partner of the Indigenous Business Award (IBA) since its inception twelve years ago.
The IBA program is grateful to NRT for their financial support, as well as for the past and current support of Capital Corporations, such as ANTCO, NEDC, TACC and Sto:lo Community Futures who have nominated strong businesses, many of whom have become awardees and serve as models for business success. In the words of Carol Anne Hilton, “this leadership contributes to the possibility that a 100 billion-dollar Indigenous annual economy can happen in the near future.”