Current Problems

Business and Reconciliation (92)

Lack of access to capital for Indigenous business

May 1, 2019

“Evening the Odds: Giving Indigenous ventures access to the full financial toolkit

Restricted access to capital impedes indigenous entrepreneurs from developing business opportunities. Some First Nations have unlocked greater economic development on reserve lands by opting out of the Indian Act system of lands management in favour of the First Nations Land Management Act. Those First Nations operating within the regime have witnessed a dramatic increase in new businesses, internal investment, and employment opportunities on reserve. These communities also use their revenues to invest back into the community, which in turn strengthens education and employment outcomes and reduces dependence on social programs.


  • The Government of Canada should continue to expand investments in and support for Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs).
  • The Government of Canada should make a substantive effort to renew the fiscal relationship and to make fiscal fairness and affordable borrowing a reality for Indigenous peoples and communities. This includes addressing current legal and regulatory barriers to accessing capital, as well as exploring and supporting new and alternative lending options.
    • Indian Act restrictions on land ownership and restrictions on accessing the funds in Indigenous trusts are areas for reform
  • Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) should continue to work with Indigenous peoples, nations and governments to expand investments in communities and to enhance the investment climate.
    • Future economic development programming should emulate the approach that led to the creation of the Native Economic Development Program (NEDP) in the mid-1980s.
  • INAC should enhance the relevance, quality and availability of information to Indigenous households, businesses and communities through a commitment to transparency and openness, as well as supporting Indigenous-led research and data governance
    • An area of particular concern is a requirement for community guarantees for private home ownership, a liability no other local order of government in Canada could shoulder alone. These requirements result in individuals’ access to housing being contingent on the financial health and fortune of their community.