First private investment in fund to provide capital to Indigenous entrepreneurs who are expected to inspire others

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A precedent has been set.

And Shannin Metatawabin, CEO of the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA), believes others will follow now that the first private investment has been made in the Indigenous Growth Fund (IGF).

The IGF, which is managed by NACCA, was introduced as a new $150 million indigenous investment fund earlier this year. It was launched to help provide access to capital that some Aboriginal businesses have been unable to obtain.

It was announced on June 16 that Block, a technology company specializing in financial services and expanding economic access for all, is investing $3 million (CAD) in the fund.

“I think this first investment is a catalyst,” Metatawabin said.

Block’s investment means more Indigenous entrepreneurs will be able to get loans to start or grow their business. These loans will go through various Aboriginal financial institutions across the country.

Block, formerly known as Square Inc., was launched in 2005. It changed its name to Block last December.

Courtney Robinson, global head of financial inclusion at Block, said last week’s announcement was the first of its kind.

“This is our first international investment as a company,” said Robinson, who works from an office in Washington DC Block’s headquarters, however, are based in San Francisco.

Block’s investment in the IGF is part of his company’s $100 million (US) social investment fund, Robinson said.

“Our team has been working on this for a year,” she said. “It was inspiring to hear purpose-driven stories. We knew it was a perfect fit for us.”

Now that Block has announced its support for the IGF, Robinson thinks other private companies won’t be far behind.

“I hope so,” she said. “But we are not in a position to give financial advice to others.”

The Canadian government and the Business Development Bank of Canada provided the main investments for the FMI.

Export Development Canada and Farm Credit Canada also provided support.

Nicole McLaren, Founder and CEO of Raven Reads, said that while some Indigenous businesses are successful in Canada and abroad, accessing capital can be difficult and this acts as a barrier to their growth.

Raven Reads is a subscription service that offers a curated gift box of Indigenous literature and products from across Canada and the United States.

McLaren was delighted to learn of Block’s investment in the IGF.

“It’s exciting to see consumers and investors supporting the growth of sustainable Indigenous businesses and seeing families build wealth that will benefit Indigenous communities for generations,” she said.

Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, also welcomed last week’s investment.

Ng said that when the federal government invested in the IGF, NACCA officials also asked other partners to join.

“Block has answered that call, joining NACCA and our government in advancing a societal effort toward reconciliation,” Ng said.

Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, also welcomed the news.

“Block’s investment in the Indigenous Growth Fund is a big step forward in ensuring Indigenous businesses can continue to contribute to their vibrant communities and local economies,” Hajdu said.

“By helping to further unleash the creative and entrepreneurial spirit in Indigenous communities, Block is positioning itself as a new partner on the federal government’s common path to economic reconciliation.

Metatawabin said Block’s investment is proof that the concerns of Indigenous peoples in Canada are also well known beyond the country’s borders.

“We all need to work together to contribute to economic reconciliation, and by investing in Indigenous investment vehicles, we are putting reconciliation into action,” he said. “Private investors like Block are essential to ensuring the prosperity of the IGF as a sustainable and scalable fund, providing a continuous flow of capital to Indigenous Financial Institutions to support future generations of Indigenous entrepreneurs. »

Metatawabin thinks it won’t be long before the IGF is backed by other private investors.

“We know this investment will spark and inspire other businesses to contribute to economic reconciliation as well,” he said.

NACCA is a network of more than 50 Indigenous Financial Institutions across the country dedicated to driving Indigenous economic growth.

Windspeaker.com

By Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com

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