Aboriginal entrepreneurship is burgeoning, with more businesses than ever before, growing and profiting, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) reported on April 5.
Beyond the bottom line, “despite the challenges of business ownership, 70 percent of aboriginal business owners are clearly optimistic about future revenue growth,” the CCAB said in its press release announcing its report, Promise and Prosperity: The Aboriginal Business Survey. “The number of aboriginal business owners and entrepreneurs is growing at five times the rate of self-employed Canadians overall.”
Businesses are diverse and straddle many regions, industry sectors and markets, the group said. According to the 2006 census, more than 37,000 aboriginal people in Canada are self-employed, a 38 percent increase from 27,000 in 2001.
“The results of the Aboriginal Business Survey shatter the myth that aboriginal people are a drain on Canadian taxpayers,” said CCAB CEO Clint Davis in a statement. “The majority of aboriginal businesses are profitable and are experiencing stability or growth. Many aboriginal businesses are hiring and training other aboriginal people. Overall aboriginal business owners see themselves as successful and are positive about the future.”
This rang true for business owners such as Janice Larocque, who runs Spirit Staffing & Consulting Inc. in Calgary. The Métis entrepreneur and 2011 winner of the aboriginal woman entrepreneur award from the Alberta Chamber of Commerce told the Calgary Herald that she is one of those optimistic business people.
Her award, she told the newspaper, drew attention.
"We're recognized as a leader in promoting diversity, and we've been approached by many companies to see if there is potential to help them diversify their workplace,” she said in the Herald. "We've even had other staffing agencies approach us to see if we want to work with them. I think it's a growing trend that people are trying to include aboriginal people in their workplace."
Of the industries represented, 18 percent are in construction, and 13 percent are in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, mining, and oil and gas extraction. The service sector is also represented, with 28 percent of the businesses in areas such as education, scientific and technical services, or health and social services, the CCAB said.
Geographically, prosperous self-employed aboriginals were all over Canada, with 23 percnet in Ontario, 22 percent in British Columbia, 18 percent in Alberta, 10 percent each in Quebec and Manitoba, 8 percent in Saskatchewan, 5 percent in the Atlantic provinces and 3 percent in the Territories.