Skip to the main content.

2 min read

Survey Results Show Strong Support for Indigenous Entrepreneurs

Survey Results Show Strong Support for Indigenous Entrepreneurs
Songhees catering trucks
The Songhees Food Trucks feature West Coast cuisine & traditional Indigenous flavours.

There has been a massive jump in Indigenous-owned and operated businesses in Canada since the 1990s when it was estimated there were just 6,000. That number grew to 27,000 in 2001 and according to the 2006 census the number of self-employed Indigenous people had grown to 37,000 - a growth rate five times that of self-employed non-Indigenous Canadians. By 2016, according to the Sodexo Canada Indigenous Business Survey, the number of Indigenous entrepreneurs had grown to 43,000. While we have not been able to determine what that means in terms of total contribution to Canada’s gross domestic product, we did find that the Indigenous tourism industry alone produces $1.4 billion of Canada’s annual GDP, and employs more than 33,000 people.

The survey highlighted some interesting results regarding how non-Indigenous Canadians view Indigenous organizations. Some really positive findings here that seem to indicate a growing recognition and understanding of the economic contributions and economic value of a thriving Indigenous business sector:

  • Eight-in-ten Canadians recognize Indigenous businesses strengthen the country’s social fabric

  • 77% of Canadians recognize the importance of thriving Indigenous enterprises to the creation of sustainable economic opportunities for Indigenous peoples

  • Three-quarters of Canadians (77%) also believe supporting strong Indigenous businesses is an important pathway to healing Canada’s relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

  • 81% agree that Canadian corporations should include Indigenous-owned and operated businesses in their supplier networks whenever possible.

  • 73% think Canadian corporations should help Indigenous entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.

  • Seven-in-ten Canadians (71%) believe that ongoing support for Indigenous companies, such as training and mentoring, should be a long-term strategy for Canadian corporations.

  • 69% think companies doing business on or near First Nations, Inuit and Métis lands should obtain services from Indigenous businesses whenever possible.

  • 73% agree that Indigenous businesses have much to offer the Canadian economy. [1]

“The success of Indigenous businesses clearly matters to Canadians,” says JP Gladu, president and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB). “The fact that Canadians expect the private sector to step up with action to help Indigenous entrepreneurs sends a powerful message to decision makers. This broad public support will also fuel the optimism of Indigenous business owners. The role that procurement can play in offering a hand up could incentivize businesses to champion and encourage Indigenous business inclusion at all levels of business interaction and participation.” [2]

Indigenous-owned and operated organizations are in every region of the country and range in size from mom-and-pop shops to organizations that operate on an international scale. If you or your organization wants to connect with Indigenous-owned companies, here are a couple of sources:

  • Government of Canada: Aboriginal Business Directory lists companies by sector, and provides a company profile and contact info.

  • Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business maintains a list of member companies; it has a handy search box with filters to refine your search to sector and province/territory.

Here are two articles on entrepreneurship from the perspective of Indigenous women:

And one on the challenges faced by many Indigenous entrepreneurs

It’s really encouraging to see recognition of the importance of a strong Indigenous entrepreneur sector.

[1] Indigenous participation in economy strengthens Canada’s social fabric: Survey

[2] ibid

Sign up for our Working Effectively With Indigenous Peoples Training

  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.
The Importance of Indigenous Radio

The Importance of Indigenous Radio

By Olivia Marie Golosky When we think of the radio landscape in Canada, especially in the mainstream context, the Canadian Broadcasting Company...

Read More
Why Is It Important to Protect & Revitalize Indigenous Languages?

Why Is It Important to Protect & Revitalize Indigenous Languages?

Of the most spoken languages in the world, English is third after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. But English is the most commonly spoken second...

Read More
What Does Indigenous Awareness Mean?

What Does Indigenous Awareness Mean?

Indigenous awareness is a broad term – I know because my onsite and public workshops are dedicated to helping people understand the full extent of...

Read More