June 16th, 2024

Investment fund giving boost to Indigenous businesses

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on March 1, 2023.

Fourteen Indigenous community-owned businesses are receiving an economic boost through the Aboriginal Business Investment Fund (ABIF).

By providing $5 million in grants through ABIF, Alberta’s government is supporting the growth of Indigenous communities, community-led job creation, and economic development. Grants will go toward capital costs like equipment purchases and infrastructure builds.

“Alberta’s government is proud to partner with Indigenous community-owned businesses across Alberta on this initiative. It’s one of the ways our government is working towards economic reconciliation by removing financial barriers and strengthening local economies,” said Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations in a press release.

Since 2014, ABIF has supported 75 Indigenous businesses with $40.5 million and has created more than 646 permanent jobs for Indigenous people.

Kainai Forage LP will be receiving funds to assist with construction-related costs for a storage facility for their timothy hay product.

The business expects to create 20 new jobs for community members, adding to the 49 current positions. Kainai Forage’s exports will help support community programs and an internship program.

“Despite COVID-19, Kainai Forage has grown over 300 per cent in three years and is an example of how the right partnerships empower Indigenous communities to turn world-class opportunities into world-class businesses. Our partnership with Indigena Capital and the Alberta government has helped our community build Kainai Forage into one of Canada’s leading forage businesses,” said Chief Roy Fox, Kainai Blood Tribe in the release.

ABIF is helping Fort Chipewyan Metis by providing $500,000 towards capital construction costs of the Elders’ Housing and Rental Suites Project, which will meet two critical community needs.

The project will include six independent, affordable housing units for Elders and short-term accommodations for visitors, as well as a common gathering area. It is expected to create 50 construction jobs with 15 of the positions being filled by Indigenous Peoples.

“The groundwork for the site is already underway and trucks, loaded with supplies, are rolling into the community. The excitement around this new project in the heart of Fort Chip is building,” said Kendrick Cardinal, President, For Chipewyan Metis.

Alberta’s government is committed to reconciliation. Supporting Indigenous businesses with funding that will benefit not only their communities, but the rest of the province, is an important part of the pathway to economic reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Alberta. Indigenous-led solutions that result in meaningful change will lead to a better future for all.

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