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Business and Reconciliation (92)

eSupply Canada’s Report Maps First Nations Multi-million Dollar Growth Potential by ‘Buying Indigenous’

April 9, 2024
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eSupply Canada’s Report Maps First Nations Multi-million Dollar Growth Potential by ‘Buying Indigenous’

If just five per cent of materials and supplies expenditures shifted to First Nations’ suppliers, income in the First Nation’s economy could increase by as much as 1.5 – 2 times. 

NationTalk: (SAUGEEN FIRST NATION, ON) – New research from national Indigenous-owned distributor of business and industrial supplies, eSupply Canada, reveals that First Nations’ economy could grow up to two times by implementing a ‘Buy Indigenous’ strategy on materials and supplies (M&S).

Governments of First Nations spend hundreds of millions of dollars on M&S each year. In 2023, 396 First Nations in Canada spent a total of $504 million on M&S, with the average expenditure at $1.3M. However, the bulk of those M&S are purchased from non-Indigenous businesses and big box stores, driving economic leakage in First Nations that disrupt their growth. For some First Nation economies, leakage can be as high as 90 per cent, meaning that 90 cents of every dollar spent by First Nations on M&S is lost to non-Indigenous businesses.

“When I served as an elected member of council at my First Nation, I saw millions of dollars leave the community to big box retailers,” said Steven Vanloffeld, Founder and CEO of eSupply Canada. “The ‘Buy Indigenous’ strategy aims to recapture that loss of capital by empowering First Nations to source their M&S from fellow community members, enabling their territory to generate and maintain income within the community.”

Every dollar spent locally on First Nations-sourced M&S has a multiplier effect that raises First Nations income exponentially. When First Nations’ income is spent on other First Nations’ businesses, this creates a multiplier effect that creates accelerated growth for their local economy. By diverting spending away from external suppliers and toward First Nations suppliers, First Nations can increase their own source revenue, strengthen their economies, and build internal capacity.

Purchasing M&S through eSupply Canada enables revenue sharing benefiting First Nation purchasers. At eSupply Canada, First Nations purchasers net back 10 per cent from each order. For instance, a $907K purchase could result in $90.7K back, empowering investments in vital sectors like education and healthcare. Scaling this model across regions could significantly boost First Nations’ income and fuel economic growth. If just one large First Nation in each region were to spend the regional median amount in this way, First Nations total income would increase by $7.1M in one year. If 10 per cent of First Nations in each region did the same, the corresponding effect would be $26.5M. Through a multiplier effect on income and revenue-sharing practices of Indigenous-owned businesses, the potential for economic growth and development would be even greater.

The opportunity presented by this data report shows exactly the full potential of corporations buying Indigenous so that communities are able to reinvest. Such cooperation across First Nations will offer the greatest opportunity to raise the economic wellbeing of the largest number of First Nations peoples.

Highlights Based on Regions: 

  • The average per cent of revenues spent on M&S by region shows much higher averages in Ontario (8.67%), Nova Scotia (9.96%), and the Northwest Territories (9.06%). Where most regions average about 4% of total revenues spent on M&S, Nova Scotia, for example, averages almost 10%.
  • The average percent of revenues spent on M&S by region shows the lowest averages in Manitoba (3.35%), Quebec (3.72%), and New Brunswick (3.77%).
  • 129 First Nation Nation communities were sampled in British Columbia and the average revenue spent was the lowest (68.05%) in comparison to other provinces.
  • In 2023 the mean per cent of revenue spent on materials and supplies was an average low of $5.6K to the 129 communities in BC to a high of $207.1K to the 7 communities in Nova Scotia.
  • In Ontario, the smallest per capita spending in one community is just $2K and the largest spending in another is $31.4M ($31,360K). Standardized differences around the average per capita spending in each region, (i.e., the standard deviation) varies from a low of $418K in Saskatchewan and a high of $2824K in Nova Scotia.
  • The total M&S expenditures in the sample of 396 First Nations is $503M, mostly on goods and services produced in the non-First Nations economy.

For more information, the Buying Indigenous Report can be downloaded for free HERE.

To learn more about eSupply Canada, go to


We analyzed total revenue, total expenditure, and total spending on M&S by community across 9 regions for which there are adequate data. The data were extracted from the publicly available First Nations Profiles on the Indigenous Services Canada website. Dollar values are adjusted to 2023$ using the Consumer Price Index. Our sample of 396 First Nations, or just under 63% of all First Nations, is the largest sample available. Every First Nation for which information of M&S expenditure is available has been included in the sample.


About eSupply

eSupply Canada is a national Indigenous-owned distributor of business and industrial supplies. We streamline the purchase of goods across multiple product categories through a convenient one-stop-shop e-commerce portal, providing industries, governments and Canadians with an Indigenous alternative to big-box retailers.

Bianca Lopez
Talk Shop Media
+1 (905) 914 0860