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REPORT: More Indigenous entrepreneurs in B.C. are finding success, recording profits

December 6, 2018, Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – Indigenous entrepreneurs in B.C. say their annual business revenues are increasing while their relationships with non-Indigenous counterparts are improving, according to a new Vancity report.

A survey of B.C.-based Indigenous entrepreneurs, commissioned by Vancity and conducted by the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business (CCAB), also shows that despite persistent challenges, most respondents expect additional growth in the next two years. To ensure this happens, barriers cited by Indigenous entrepreneurs in the province must be addressed. Common obstacles include inadequate local infrastructure and government red tape.

The report, First Peoples, First Business: Indigenous entrepreneurs and Reconciliation in B.C., points to positive impacts from Reconciliation efforts, as well. Of those surveyed, 48% say they experienced systemic barriers when dealing with non-Indigenous business relationships five years ago, compared with 21% who experience them now.

Most 2018 survey results compare favourably with responses to a landmark 2016 CCAB survey. The report also found:

  • B.C. has more than 11,000 self-employed Indigenous workers in Canada, or 21% of the national total and second only to Ontario.
  • Of those surveyed in 2018, 58% say their operations have been “extremely” or “very” successful to date, compared with 51% of B.C.-based respondents in 2016.
  • 78% said their business was profitable in their last fiscal year, compared with 74% of B.C.-based respondents in 2016.
  • More than 40% of those surveyed in 2018 say their business had clients in other Canadian provinces and territories during the past year, while 20% say they had clients outside Canada and the United States.

“Our report demonstrates the emergence of a strong, increasingly stable and more profitable Indigenous private economy,” says Stewart Anderson, manager of Vancity’s Indigenous partnerships. “Relationships among Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities are improving. So is access to financing. But long-standing barriers still need to come down.”

Survey respondents were most likely to identify government red tape, employee retention and access to reliable Internet, phone and IT systems as key business challenges. To overcome those and other obstacles, the Vancity report makes a number of recommendations to governments, non-Indigenous businesses, individuals and financial institutions.

Additional information:

2018 Report: First Peoples, First Business: Indigenous entrepreneurs and Reconciliation in B.C.

Backgrounder: Vancity’s investment in Indigenous communities

About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 525,000 member-owners and their communities in the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw territories, with 59 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay. With $26.4 billion in assets plus assets under administration, Vancity is Canada’s largest community credit union. Vancity uses its assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

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For more information:

Brent Shearer | Vancity
T: 778-837-0394


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