Skip to main content

$10 million in funding for Indigenous community-owned businesses in 2024 budget

Lettuce being grown at the Akamihk Fresh greenhouse in Maskwacis. (Source: Akamihk Fresh/Instagram) Lettuce being grown at the Akamihk Fresh greenhouse in Maskwacis. (Source: Akamihk Fresh/Instagram)

The Alberta government is increasing the Aboriginal Business Investment Fund (ABIF) to $10 million annually for the 2024-25 fiscal year.

The fund is used to partially or fully cover capital costs for Indigenous community-owned economic development projects.

"Often Indigenous communities have not been able to raise the funding for capital assets through bank loans or other traditional sources because of land ownership, legalities related to reserve lands, and usually at very high interest rates," said Rick Wilson, the minister of Indigenous relations.

"So the Aboriginal business fund is breaking this barrier down and it's providing funding for projects."

The ABIF is being increased by $2.5 million in Budget 2024 for the second year in a row.

Businesses can get up to $750,000 to develop and grow, create jobs and enhance or purchase infrastructure and equipment.

The fund was launched 10 years ago and has provided grants to more than 86 Indigenous businesses and helped create more than 800 permanent jobs, according to the government.

"The projects ABIF supports are having a significant impact on Indigenous communities, and I’m excited for the future of this program," Wilson said.

"Supporting Indigenous business development is a key part of Alberta’s commitment to economic reconciliation."

Businesses in agriculture, construction, retail, tourism and oil and gas have accessed the fund in the past.

"If you go down to Piikani First Nation in southern Alberta, we've helped them with the service centre down there and that's employing a lot of young people, start some of that business acumen, learning how to run a business and that type of thing," Wilson said.

"Up north, we've got a lot of First Nations that are into the logging business… In Fort Chipewyan there's a little store we got started up there."

Another business is the Akamihk Fresh greenhouse run by the Montana First Nation in Maskwacis. In 2021, the nation received $500,000 in funding to support the development of the greenhouse.

Now, the business provides fresh vegetables and freeze-dried herbs to markets and restaurants in central Alberta, Edmonton and Calgary.

"They're working on expanding the greenhouse this summer and when complete it's going to employ up to 16 staff, and it's going to bring in about $330,000 revenue," Wilson said. "For a small business, that's amazing."

Grants from the ABIF have allowed some businesses to expand to the international stage, such as the Blood Tribe’s Kainai Forage operation, which ships hay across the world.

In the 2023-24 fiscal year, 10 First Nations businesses and three Métis settlements received ABIF funding. Top Stories

Stay Connected