The federal government moved to help protect Indigenous-owned small and microbusinesses in Atlantic Canada through the Indigenous Community Business Fund, allowing them to step in and give support to businesses that might not have any other options for funding and investment.
Through the ICBF, the government will kick in $ 117 million to help support Indigenous microbusinesses and community- or collectively-owned businesses across the country that do not qualify for other existing business supports, and whose revenues have been affected by COVID-19.
It’s a pretty big deal, and it includes about $ 13 million in non-repayable financial contributions designed to help Indigenous community- or collectively-owned businesses to strengthen operations, support their viability and position them for recovery.
One such stipend, for example, went to the Membertou Mi’kmaq First Nation in Nova Scotia. The government contributed $ 1.5 million to small, collectively- or community-owned and microbusinesses in the community.
Membertou First Nation Chief Terry Paul said the COVID-19 pandemic gutted businesses in his community and that this support is an excellent partnership with the federal government.
“Like many Canadians, our community felt the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “With our operations halted, the Indigenous Community Business Fund provided significant relief and support for us during stressful days. The support of the fund will greatly improve our path to recovery following the pandemic,” he added.
The ICBF was renewed officially by the federal government in June.
Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said the ICBF will be an important tool in economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The renewal of the Indigenous Community Business Fund will help community-or collectively-owned businesses and microbusinesses to continue taking steps toward full economic recovery,” he said, adding Indigenous-owned businesses make up a significant part of the economy. “This funding will strengthen economies in Indigenous communities, which will in turn contribute to a more resilient and inclusive economy in Atlantic Canada.”
It’s but one of the many devices built into the 2021 federal budget designed to promote and develop Indigenous-owned businesses, including $ 22 million over three years to support the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association’s (NACCA), Indigenous Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative by providing tools, services and resources to increase the number of Indigenous women entrepreneurs, $ 33.4 million this year to support the First Nations Finance Authority pooled borrowing regime and $ 42 million over three years to expand the Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program.