Connections are key to the success of indigenous women entrepreneurs


Inuujaq Leslie Fredlund, a customer of the Kivalliq Business Development Center and participant in the NACCA model campaign for indigenous women, stands next to her boutique store Maybe Somewhere in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. The mobile store offers a range of Inuit, Nunavummiut and indigenous products from jewelry and clothing to cosmetics, skin care and music. (Photo by Fred Cattroll)

For many indigenous women, entrepreneurship offers a path to fulfillment, personal freedom and financial independence.

As innate leaders and viewed as such in their communities, indigenous women are sources of inspiration and pride for future generations. This influence is the key to healing from the painful story and finding a new way forward that the whole country will ponder during the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation observed on September 30th.

When starting their own business, Indigenous women encounter unique challenges and achievements. CPA Canada spoke to CPA Relay Tangie and Magnolia Perron of the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) to learn more about the experience.

As a network of over 50 Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs), NACCA is tasked with stimulating economic growth for all of Canada’s indigenous peoples. With its extensive training in financial skills, NACCA supports indigenous women entrepreneurs, an important part of the path to economic reconciliation.

Here Tangie, an African-Canadian of Cameroonian descent, and Perron, who hails from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and is a proud member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, share how the entrepreneurial skills of indigenous women give them a head start and how the bespoke training offered by NACCA programs create a strong framework for success.

CPA CANADA: Indigenous women play an important role in their communities. How does this help prepare them for entrepreneurship?
Magnolia platform (MP):
Indigenous women have always been at the center of the family and participated in the development of our communities.

Leadership and entrepreneurial qualities are innate to indigenous women. If you look at lobbying in our communities, it is often indigenous women who literally put their bodies first.

Indigenous entrepreneurs, especially women, often incorporate cultural values ​​into their business based on the needs of their community, be it supporting work in progress or creating jobs.

Their businesses often have an emphasis on sustainability and that seven generations.

CPA CANADA: What common experiences have indigenous women entrepreneurs shared with you?
One of the biggest challenges facing indigenous women entrepreneurs is access to capital, and that has a lot to do with eligibility criteria.

Many indigenous women do not want to incur any further debts, so they seek financial support in the form of grants or non-repayable contributions.

When trying to get funding through incumbent financial institutions, they need collateral. Section 89 of the Indian act prevents banks from using property in reserve as collateral, which can be an obstacle for indigenous women trying to gain access to capital. In addition, a credit rating can prevent this as some indigenous communities do not have access to financial institutions.

We also heard that access to finance is necessary [the women to] Be in their business full time. Many entrepreneurs start out with home or part-time businesses, which also hinders eligibility.

Another shared experience is trying to balance business and family commitments. Indigenous women tend to have more family and community responsibilities. With access to entrepreneurial programs, including workshops and training, the logistics of childcare and transportation can be difficult.

Despite these hurdles, Indigenous women often start businesses with their own personal savings as well Research shows that the number of independent indigenous women is growing faster than that of independent indigenous men.

Although fewer indigenous women are self-employed than men, their growth rate between 2011 and 2016 was 46 percent. This is higher than for indigenous self-employed men, which was just 37 percent.

Image collage of Staffel Tangie and Magnolia PerronTangie (left) serves as Finance Manager for NACCA and Perron is NACCA’s Indigenous Women and Youth Program Officer (Credit Relay: Fred Cattroll, Credit Magnolia: Laura Dimitroff)

CPA CANADA: You will be discussing the latest NACCA survey on indigenous women entrepreneurship at the Mastering Money virtual conference. What insights can you share with us?
From the indigenous women entrepreneurs in Canada opinion poll, the main reason indigenous women enter the economy is passion for a product or service; the second is for more flexibility and freedom; and the third is to generate income for their families.

It is important that we provide targeted support to women, including training on how to run, start and run a business, access to finance, and budget. This training should make arrangements for things like childcare and transportation, and create safe environments for Indigenous women to share.

The programming must also reflect the culture and circumstances of Indigenous women in Canada and capture this diversity among the indigenous peoples, whether you are a First Nations woman living on the reservation or a Métis woman living in an urban area lives.

CPA CANADA: What financial skills and business acumen are developed through the NACCA’s financial literacy training?
Relay Tangie (RT):
We know that financial literacy is a key component of business acumen. Entrepreneurs need to be prepared for how well they are financially in order to make informed business decisions and to know and understand the ramifications of any financial decision.

One skill gap identified in our research is practical skills, such as creating a business plan and managing cash flow, profit versus cash, and our tax systems, both at the provincial and federal levels.

Trust is also an important factor. The knowledge that they can because they saw it. It’s part of who they were and it’s part of who Indigenous women are. One thing that builds confidence is the role model, and part of that is mentoring. You always need a mentor no matter how successful you are.

CPA CANADA: You have developed a number of financial performance workbooks for aspiring entrepreneurs. How do they help put indigenous women on the path to financial and business success?
We did a lot of research before developing the training material. We found that the financial literacy material for entrepreneurs is somewhat advanced for those just starting out.

The workbooks are designed to serve as a stepping stone for new entrepreneurs to understand the importance of building strong, personal financial character to business success.

From a theoretical point of view, the workbooks cover three main areas: goal setting, mindset and savings; Income, expenses and budgets; Banking and credit.

From a practical point of view, these workshops are held in an AFI environment, which facilitates the early-stage relationship with a financial institution. It offers women a chance to expand their network in a safe space because we all know you can’t do business on your own.

Finally, the workbooks are tailored to meet the needs of our diverse coast-to-coast-to-coast indigenous communities. This relevance and context are very important in terms of how the material is received and perceived.

CPA CANADA: How are these women impacting their communities and the next generation of indigenous entrepreneurs?
Role models are visual evidence that your ambitions are achievable.

This representation in business encourages other indigenous women [to see] that there are no limits to them and that they can learn to navigate successfully through the system even with existing restrictions.

This support reaches their communities. As more Indigenous women participate in business, we are seeing an increase in employment resulting in less dependence on welfare. Culturally, it comes back to the way of thinking of the seven generations; As you share your skills and knowledge, you will make sure that these good traditions are passed on.

CPA CANADA: This year marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. What role does entrepreneurship play in healing indigenous peoples?
Entrepreneurship has always been around in indigenous communities and can be a source of pride and healing. It offers indigenous people the opportunity to participate in their communities. Additionally, it enables those who did not grow up in an indigenous community or close to their culture to safely learn and reconnect. Language can be a powerful tool for indigenous entrepreneurs to incorporate indigenous values ​​and forms of knowledge into their businesses.

Entrepreneurship also plays a key role in restoring respect in the way Indigenous people are perceived and perceived. There is a great educational post for Canadians who want to learn more about indigenous culture and indigenous contributions to the economy. In business, we see that where we share our stories and our history. It represents a great learning opportunity.


Sign up to see how NACCA’s Relay Tangie and Magnolia Perron will be released on Nov.

If you’re looking for a glimpse into the prospects of the next generation of Indigenous CPAs, check out CPA Canada’s Introduction to Indigenous Cultures course. Plus, read about the CPA fighting for indigenous housing and learn about the indigenous wineries that are thriving.

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