Indigenous Women Entrepreneurs

To understand the current landscape of Indigenous women business owners, this preliminary report approaches CCAB’s 2016 Promise and Prosperity survey from a gendered perspective. Gaining insights into the differences between women-owned and men-owned businesses is a key part of understanding the unique experiences of Indigenous businesses in the Canadian economy and contributes to data-driven reconciliation strategies.

Indigenous entrepreneurs in general face systemic disadvantages, such as access to services, financing, information, and basic infrastructure; for Indigenous women entrepreneurs in particular, these barriers are multiplied. For example, the Indian Act prevents those on reserve from securing loans from financial institutions using property owned by a band; the funding that is available is from Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFI), which often have limited financing and are not designed for Indigenous women. There is also anecdotal evidence that points toward involvement in the informal economy by Indigenous entrepreneurs, which disqualifies them from access to programs.

This report presents an overview of business characteristics, demographics, trends, successes, and challenges of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women entrepreneurs.

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