Indigenous-led businesses eligible for grant support

By Sandi Krasowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Chronicle-Journal

The Community Economic Development Commission is calling on Indigenous entrepreneurs in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario who are looking to start, expand or buy an existing business, to apply for their Miinikaanan Badakidoon program.

Kirsten Kabernick, program co-ordinator with the commission’s Thunder Bay and District Entrepreneur Centre, said participants are eligible to complete business training, develop a business plan, and have a mentor.

“The program is an Indigenous funding program that we have available for entrepreneurs that are in the region including, Atikokan, Greenstone and Marathon,” she said.

“They can apply for $5,000 to help them either start up, expand or purchase an existing business.”

Started in December of 2021, the Miinikaanan Badakidoon program is aimed at businesses that are majority Indigenous-led. It is a spinoff of the Community Economic Development Commission’s Starter Company Plus program, which is available for everybody. Kabernick says they saw their first nine participants complete the program in the spring of 2022.

Applications are open for a fall group of Indigenous entrepreneurs.

“We have a handful of grants to hopefully issue and we have applications open now until September,” she said.

“They’ll do their training in October and November and then hopefully be approved for the grants in early December.”

Kabernick noted that there are criteria to qualify for the program.

“The business does have to fall into one of the categories of either being a startup, which means within a year of opening an expansion beyond their existing operations, or purchasing an existing business,” she said.

“They would also have to be a full-time business that is running year-round and it has to be majority Indigenous-led. That could mean one Indigenous entrepreneur or a partnership that’s majority led by an Indigenous entrepreneur.”

To be eligible for the grant money, participants have to complete the activities in the program, including a training day that they have to come to where they learn about completing market research, business insurance, marketing, operations or human resources.

They write a business plan, and then they use that business plan to apply for the $5,000 grant.