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Indigenous Growth Fund makes first investment of $10 million

Ay Lelum

Aunalee Boyd-Good and Sophia Seward-Good of Ay Lelum, The Good House of Design, at Vancouver Fashion Week, October 25, 2021. Photo courtesy of Ay LelumPhoto credit: Arun Nevader

OTTAWA, March 07, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — IGF Inc. is pleased to announce the first $10 million Indigenous Growth Fund portfolio investment. The Aboriginal Growth Fund, a $150 million fund managed by the National Association of Aboriginal Capital Corporationsis delivered by Aboriginal Financial Institutions Across the country. The IGF advanced the first funds to the Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation (NEDC), an Aboriginal Financial Institution (AFI) located on Vancouver Island, to provide loans to small and medium Aboriginal businesses.

Jean Vincent is Chairman of the Board of IGF Inc. “Aboriginal businesses are hungry for capital,” he says, “and many of our business owners have great potential. This is why our network lobbied for the creation of the IGF. The Fund’s initial investors are the Business Development Bank of Canada, the Government of Canada, Export Development Canada and Farm Credit Canada.

Al Little, CEO of NEDC, agrees. “The whole island has a lot of opportunity,” says Al. Founded by the fourteen Nuu-chah-nulth tribes in 1984, NEDC is one of the most active members of the network of indigenous financial institutions. Additional capital from the IGF will allow NEDC to provide financing to small business clients, while serving First Nations clients with much larger capital needs.

“In our case, we are building a facility,” says Aunalee Boyd-Good, co-owner with her sister Sophia of Ay Lelum, hul’q’nmi’num for “good house”. Located in Snuneymuxw First Nation, Ay Lelum’s fashion design business now operates out of family members’ homes. “This building is going to be a game-changer for us,” says Aunalee, “a space where our family can create, craft, host customers, do workshops, layouts, everything.” Although the business has been successful for years, the sisters have found it impossible to obtain financing from conventional lenders because the business is located on a reserve.

Lyndsey Bell, a returning NEDC customer, owns Bigfoot Donuts in the town of Courtenay on Vancouver Island. She and her co-owner husband are also using their loan to purchase new space. Their business is in foodservice, a sector that lenders consider high risk. A former banker with a degree in finance and First Nations studies, Lyndsey knows that a conventional lender would not have provided financing – despite her business being so successful. A bank would require personal property, usually a house, as collateral to cover the loan from a business such as Bigfoot Donuts. The NEDC, on the other hand, “completely agreed and they were able to make it possible for us”.

It’s a similar story for the HFN Group of Companies, the trading arm of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. Whether it’s a tourism and hospitality, retail, forestry, construction or gravel project, CEO Patrick Schmidt says NEDC is their lender of choice. Autonomous since 2011, the First Nation’s latest venture is oyster seeding, a joint project with a local expert in Bamfeild.

“We currently have about a million oysters in the water, next year we want three million, and the following year we plan to have up to 10 million,” says Patrick. The new venture aims to produce high-quality seafood as efficiently as possible and eventually export it to the world. NEDC provided a large line of credit to help refine and scale up their production process. “It would be really difficult to use a conventional lender,” says Patrick. “In NEDC’s case, I was able to take the loan officer to the farm and spend a day going through every step of the production process and business model.”

What enables NEDC to accept clients that other lenders would not accept? Like all Aboriginal Financial Institutions, the NEDC has a specific Aboriginal business development lending mandate. He uses his knowledge of the region and individual contractors to assess the risk of a project. “We’re sort of a mix of different things,” Al explains, “we don’t operate like a bank, we’re not prepared to compete with a bank in any way. But many practices can be similar. And their default rate is testament to their success. “Our 30-year default rate to First Nations themselves is zero,” says Al. “We haven’t lost a dime.

Another benefit: IGF is nationally managed by NACCA, the same Indigenous-led organization that Indigenous Financial Institutions founded to represent them in 1997. NACCA also understands the unique nature and values ​​of business. indigenous. With the IGF now investing in AFIs across the country, more Indigenous businesses will get the capital they need to realize their visions.

As for Vancouver Island, the benefits are already coming. Bigfoot Donuts plans to double its current staff of six and expand its savory offerings to the Comox Valley. As the number of oysters increases, the company plans to regularly add new positions to its current staff of six. The HFN group of companies hopes to create not just jobs, but “careers of a certain caliber” for graduates of the local college’s aquaculture program, Patrick says. Ay Lelum is a source of pride for the Snuneymuxw community. With the full support of their First Nation, the sisters present Coast Salish stories and local role models to show off their fashions. “We’re pushing our culture forward and we’re there in a great way to show that our culture is very much alive,” says co-owner Sophia Seward-Good. “It really is a miracle to show what we are doing.”

About the Indigenous Growth Fund

The Indigenous Growth Fund (IGF) is a new $150 million investment fund, led by the National Association of Aboriginal Capital Corporations (NACC), that will provide access to long-held capital for small and Aboriginal medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). wanted and missed. Indigenous entrepreneurs in all sectors will be able to access the Fund through business loans from a network of Indigenous Financial Institutions (AFIs) across the country.

Major investments in the IGF come from the Government of Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), with further commitments from Export Development Canada (EDC) and Farm Credit Canada (FCC). The structure is based on the ability of AFIs to deploy capital based on their unique understanding of the communities they serve and their connection to them.

For more information on the Aboriginal Growth Fund, please visit our webpage at

Media Contact
Sarah McNeil
Partnerships and operations
Indigenous Growth Fund
613-688-0894 ext. 511
[email protected]

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