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Indigenous businesses at risk of failing without support: survey

Indigenous Business COVID-19 Response Taskforce calls for financing, support services to keep Indigenous businesses afloat
(Adobe stock photo)

Results of a new survey indicate more financing and support services are needed to prevent Indigenous businesses from going under in the wake of COVID-19.

The Indigenous Business COVID-19 Response Taskforce released the results of the survey on June 26.

According to the figures, 44 per cent of Indigenous businesses said they were at risk of closing in three to six months.

Ten per cent of businesses said operations would not last beyond a month without support, while two per cent said their businesses had already closed.

The survey of 838 Indigenous business owners and executives was conducted between April and May 2020.

“Sound research is crucial to ensuring that Indigenous businesses get the resources they need to continue to support their families, communities and the broader Canadian economy,” said Samantha Morton, director of research for the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, in a news release reporting the findings.

“As the economy continues to evolve and we move towards economic recovery, we recommend further study to understand the shifting impacts and needs of Indigenous businesses across Canada.”

Additional survey data shows that 61 per cent of Indigenous women-owned businesses report a ‘very negative’ outcome compared to 53 per cent of businesses owned by men.

Among Inuit-owned businesses, 38 per cent experienced a revenue drop of 50 per cent or more, compared to 27 per cent of Métis and 31 per cent of First Nations-owned businesses. 

But there is opportunity for growth.

Acosys Consulting Services has developed a national database of Indigenous businesses that are able to supply COVID-19-related goods for Government of Canada buyers. The database is overseen by the taskforce.

Data shows that 12 per cent of Indigenous businesses surveyed can provide supplies or equipment that could meet Canada’s medical needs, while eight per cent said they could rapidly scale up or pivot production to provide personal protective equipment (PPE). 

The Indigenous Business COVID-19 Response Taskforce is comprised of the following organizations: Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB), Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (CANDO), Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA), National Indigenous Economic Development Board (NIEDB), and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada.