Waubetek receives $2.5 million for aboriginal business

BIRCH ISLAND—The Waubetek Business Development Corporation will receive $2.5 million in funding to support aboriginal businesses and small-scale community development projects, courtesy of the provincial Aboriginal Economic Development Fund.

This follows an earlier announcement in March by the Ontario Government to invest $15 million in aboriginal organizations that promote and underwrite Aboriginal business development. Over a three-year period, the funding is expected to help generate 400 jobs and launch 100 new aboriginal-owned businesses in the province. A portion of the funds is also set-aside for community economic development projects under $10,000.

The Waubetek Business Development Corporation is an aboriginal-owned and controlled, not-for-profit organization that has delivered business financing and economic development services since 1989 to First Nations and aboriginal entrepreneurs throughout northeastern Ontario. It is also one of 61 Community Futures Development Corporations in Ontario.

“While starting or expanding a business is always a challenge for anyone, the obstacles are more extensive for aboriginal entrepreneurs and First Nations,” said Dawn Madahbee, general manager of the Waubetek Business Development Corporation, in a press release. “The lack of proper community economic infrastructure, limited availability of commercial capital and legislative barriers affecting loan security are only a few of the issues faced by aboriginal people. The Aboriginal Economic Development Fund will help to mitigate these obstacles to a great extent.”

“There are more than 9,000 entrepreneurs in Ontario who identify as First Nations, Metis or Inuit,” she continued. “Investing in aboriginal people has a very positive impact on local, regional and provincial economies: the growth in business and family incomes results in increased spending in local markets for goods and services; aboriginal businesses increase the range of choices for consumers; and local workforces grow with enhanced skills and trades. The result is growth and retention of financial and human capital in underdeveloped and/or vulnerable regions.”

The Ojibwe word “Waubetek,” means “the future” and since 1989, Waubetek has provided business services and commercial financing to the tune of nearly $62 million to 2,370 aboriginal businesses in a variety of industries.

“Aboriginal businesses and communities face unique challenges,” said Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, David Zimmer. “Aboriginal financial institutions understand those challenges and will help aboriginal communities and entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses.”