OTTAWA — Sept. 22, 2022: The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) and participating Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs) are pleased to announce the establishment of a new $5-million Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund
AFIs across the country are now delivering the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund on behalf of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED). First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women entrepreneurs from across the nation are now able to access loans up to $50,000 to start or grow their business.
“Indigenous women are smart, resilient and driven, but they continue to face systemic barriers when starting or growing their businesses,” said the Honourable Mary Ng, minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development. “That is why we ensured the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund provides targeted support for Indigenous women so they can reach their full potential, create local jobs, and drive economic growth in their communities.”
In 2020, NACCA set a goal to increase the number of Indigenous women entrepreneurs accessing financing through the AFIs by 50 percent by 2025. Currently, about 30 per cent of the businesses supported by the network are owned or co-owned by women. The new Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund will help NACCA and the network reach its goal of serving more Indigenous women entrepreneurs.
“Indigenous women often have difficulty accessing financing due to barriers like requirements for equity, full-time participation in their business, and more. The Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund addresses these barriers by providing Indigenous women with access to micro-financing to help them achieve the success they deserve,” says NACCAs chief executive officer, Shannin Metatawabin.
The Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund builds on NACCA’s existing Indigenous Women Entrepreneurship Program, which launched across 32 AFIs in spring 2022. The program currently includes training and workshops for Indigenous women entrepreneurs, as well as a micro-loan fund that provides up to $20,000 in loan funds for Indigenous women entrepreneurs.
Now, with the additional $5 million committed from ISED, AFIs will have additional resources to offer micro-lending to an increased number of Indigenous women. The new funding will enhance the program by making more capital available to Indigenous women entrepreneurs. AFIs have committed nearly $2 million in additional dollars to the fund to support Indigenous women entrepreneurs.
“We have experienced significant uptake in the micro-loan program and welcome additional funds to finance more Métis women entrepreneurs. The Women’s Entrepreneurship Loan Fund will allow us to provide more capital and opportunities to our clients.” said Pam Larson, CEO of Clarence Campeau Development Fund.
Indigenous women entrepreneurs can apply for the Indigenous Women Entrepreneur Program and the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund through their regional AFI. Eligible business must be over 50 per cent owned by Indigenous women.
Rachelle Baird is the owner and operator of Superior Remote Catering, a remote catering business which specializes in working with logging camps on Vancouver Island. Working with the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Economic Development Corporation (NEDC) and their dedicated staff, Baird received a loan from the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund to help with the costs of reopening her business.
“The amazing support from NEDC and the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund enabled me to relaunch my company, Superior Remote Catering, after the recent downturn many companies experienced. I am so honoured to be the first Indigenous woman entrepreneur to have received the funding to successfully move forward with my business and encourage others who need this kind of support to reach out to their local AFI,” says Baird.
About NACCA: NACCA is a network of over 50 Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs) dedicated to stimulating economic growth for all Indigenous people in Canada.