Indigenous communities face significant barriers when trying to access funding from traditional financial institutions. Supporting the development of Indigenous businesses is a key part of Alberta’s commitment to economic reconciliation. Alberta’s government is collaborating with Indigenous businesses as partners in prosperity to ensure the success and sustainability of Indigenous communities across the province. 

Alberta’s government is increasing the Aboriginal Business Investment Fund (ABIF) by $2.5 million for the second year in a row, doubling it from $5 million in Budget 2022 to $10 million in the 2024-2025 fiscal year. Since it was launched 10 years ago, the ABIF program has provided capital grants to more than 85 Indigenous businesses and helped create more than 800 permanent jobs for Indigenous people in Alberta.

“What better way to celebrate 10 years of the Aboriginal Business Investment Fund than by increasing it to $10 million in annual funding. The projects ABIF supports are having a significant impact on Indigenous communities, and I’m excited for the future of this program. Supporting Indigenous business development is a key part of Alberta’s commitment to economic reconciliation.”

Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations

The ABIF provides capital grants of up to $750,000 to help Indigenous-owned businesses develop and grow. It gives them the means to build, enhance or purchase the infrastructure and equipment they need to increase revenue, create jobs and contribute even more to their communities.

The ABIF program has supported businesses in construction, agriculture, oil and gas, retail, tourism and many other industries. These businesses have had a profound impact on local communities while also supporting broader economic growth.

Montana First Nation, one of four First Nations in Maskwacis, is one success story that has led to government increasing the total program funding. In 2021-22, Montana First Nation received a $500,000 ABIF grant to support the development of Akamihk Fresh greenhouse, which is now providing fresh vegetables and freeze-dried herbs to markets and restaurants in central Alberta and the Edmonton area.

“The Aboriginal Business Investment Fund has been an amazing tool for bringing an economic boost to Indigenous communities across the province, and I’m grateful to see Alberta’s government continuing to honour their commitment towards reconciliation with this increase in funding. This increase will provide even more communities with opportunities to pursue business ventures that will create jobs and drive economic prosperity.”

Ralph Cattleman, Chief, Montana First Nation

The greenhouse also supplies many schools in Maskwacis with fresh food for their students. Montana First Nation is working to expand the greenhouse this summer, and when complete, it will provide up to 16 permanent jobs for Indigenous people, as well as helping address food security for the community.

In many cases, ABIF grants have allowed Indigenous businesses to take the next step in their development, growing beyond their borders to bid on regional projects and employ people outside their community, in some cases becoming international leaders in their sectors. For example, the Blood Tribe’s Kainai Forage operation received multiple rounds of ABIF funding and now exports premium hay across the world.

In 2023-24, Alberta’s government provided ABIF grants to 10 First Nations businesses and three Metis Settlement businesses. This program is an important part of a suite of Alberta government initiatives focused on economic reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.  

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