Indigenous businesses are an important part of the global economy and a source of invaluable cultural enrichment, yet many face distinct challenges due to centuries of marginalisation.
This guide explores these obstacles, provides insights on how to foster Indigenous business growth, and examines ways individuals can support Native entrepreneurs.
Recognise and highlight Indigenous businesses
One of the most important actions you can take to promote growth in First Nations businesses is to recognise and highlight them.
Create visibility for native companies through word-of-mouth, social media campaigns, or even simply patronising their products or services. Whenever possible, lend advice or use your networks to help promote the success of First Nations entrepreneurs.
Recognising them and giving them a platform, helps strengthen communities while opening up possibilities for economic advancement around the world.
- Research and identify (real) Indigenous-owned businesses in your community or industry.
- Use your platform or network to promote and showcase indigenous businesses and their products/services.
- Attend events and engage with Indigenous entrepreneurs to build relationships and learn more about their businesses.
Make grants and resources accessible to entrepreneurs
Most governments grant programs don’t make information accessible to First Nations entrepreneurs, making it difficult for them to utilise the resources necessary for growth.
By providing grant writing assistance and making resources available, you can help increase First People’s access to funding much-needed capital. Additionally, look into organisations that provide grants or support specifically to Indigenous entrepreneurs and business owners.
Support groups like these go a long way in launching businesses, in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and other countries with First Nations populations.
Promote culturally-minded enterprise education opportunities
Education is essential to First Nations’ business growth. There are plenty of enterprise education and development opportunities that are tailored specifically to Indigenous audiences.
Promote these initiatives on your website or social media profiles or use word of mouth to get the word out. You can also consider collaborating with organisations that offer these programs, like universities or Indigenous-run business advisory entities.
By working together to make education and resources available, you can foster a network of entrepreneurs and create powerful ripples of positive change.
- Offer internships or mentorship opportunities to Indigenous students to provide them with hands-on experience in entrepreneurship and business.
- Host workshops and events that highlight Indigenous entrepreneurs and their successes to inspire and educate others in the community.
Facilitate business development networks for entrepreneurs and leaders
Business networks are essential for every entrepreneur, and even more so for First Nations entrepreneurs who may not have access to the same resources as larger companies.
Encourage established business owners in your industry or community to mentor entrepreneurs and join forces with local Chambers of Commerce or small business associations to facilitate development networks. This will allow entrepreneurs access to more people, resources and contacts available to a wider audience.
Additionally, events such as conferences and workshops can help connect industry leaders and develop key relationships within the business sector.
Connect Indigenous businesses with local government and government services
Entrepreneurs often find it difficult to access government resources, such as subsidies and funding opportunities.
Identifying and connecting with the right personnel in local governments can significantly boost Indigenous businesses. Contact local officials to gauge their interest in supporting small businesses and why their support is important.
Once a connection is made, they can provide valuable information regarding government services and subsidies, along with advice on how to apply for them. This may result in more successful applications from First Nations companies who are unaware of the available resources.