First Nations business has taken giant steps in the last 15 years, Native entrepreneurs such as Clarence Louie and David Tuccaro have shown the business acumen to turn investments into successful projects. They and leaders like them have made the most of what opportunity prevailed and are inspiring a new generation of First Nations entrepreneurs. An interest free $500,000 loan has been given to the Indian Business Corporation from AltaGas to fund First Nations business projects.
It is the first time a company from the private sector has donated such a generous sum of money strictly for Native entrepreneurs, and it was the brainchild of AltaGas CEO David Cornhill. “I know firsthand how important it was to have financial support when we started AltaGas twenty years ago, and we wanted to be able to do the same, but specifically for First Nations entrepreneurs.” AltaGas started with $37,000 in funding, and now they are worth $10 billion.
The Indian Business Corporation (IBC) was founded in 1987 and has supported 2,500 Native businesses with loans totalling $70,000,000. The funding from AltaGas will boost IBC’s capacity to finance viable First Nations entrepreneurs in Alberta, as demand for IBC’s lending service outstrips its capital. The General Manager of IBC Rob Rollingson understands that lack of access to capital can be a challenge for First Nation people when starting a business. “We know this kind of of investment helps companies deepen their community relationships, while increasing individual self-sufficiency, and will create positive social outcomes. This contribution demonstrated that AltaGas is a leader and social innovator in advancing opportunities for First Nations entrepreneurs.”
The objective of this agreement is to develop long-term relationships and to provide sustainable benefits to the First Nation communities in which AltaGas operates. Together AltaGas and IBC have developed the AltaGas First Nations Development Fund to support the creation and growth of sources of revenue for First Nations communities. “We are really proud to be affiliated with AltaGas,” IBC’s Rollingson stated gratefully. “From the very beginning of our conversations with AltaGas, they’ve been trailblazers. Mr Cornhill is so socially innovative, and they recognized what IBC does and some of the outcomes that we can achieve.”
AltaGas has made a remarkable contribution, and they are hoping more companies follow their example and invest in First Nations entrepreneurs and businesses. Neil Mackie the Manager of Government Affairs for AltaGas stated that they are considering doing the same thing in British Columbia. Another major boost for First Nations entrepreneurs. “AltaGas is always seeking new opportunities to create sustainable social value,” David Cornhill said, and he has already shown that he is someone who backs up his promises and believes in the future of First Nations.