NAABA Announces New Pilot Program to Support the Growth of Indigenous Business

The Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA) is designing a Shared Services Pilot Program that aims to grow the position and competitiveness of Indigenous businesses in the local, provincial, and national economy.

With program development funding supported by the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, and Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development and Tourism, the project aims to create shared professional support services and resources for NAABA full member businesses.

“Our organization’s mandate centers around the creation of business development opportunities for Indigenous entrepreneurs,” said Jaime Harpe, President, Board of Directors, NAABA.  “We take great pride in our ability to bring the business community together through various engagement activities, and we see this project as a natural complement to what NAABA has to offer its full members.”

NAABA is in the process of conducting extensive engagement (focus groups, interviews, surveys) with Indigenous businesses to understand their business support needs.  The research will be used to develop a custom program that aims to assist Indigenous businesses as they enhance their administrative functions, while at the same time helping them redirect their valuable resources towards operating their core business.

“We are excited to launch a business support pilot program designed by Indigenous businesses, for Indigenous businesses,” said Michelle Toner, Executive Director, NAABA. “Many already look to NAABA for business support services, and this pilot program allows us to formalize our support and explore those needs in more depth.”

This pilot program comes at a time when the local economic recovery journey is in full swing following a number of setbacks over the years, with the pandemic being the most recent. Indigenous entrepreneurs have never stopped looking for ways to expand their businesses and create greater efficiency, and with this program, NAABA can now help them navigate their goals with more ease.

“The Government of Canada recognizes that Indigenous businesses throughout Fort McMurray and the surrounding region have faced many challenges over the past year. This is why we are proud to be part of a business support pilot project that will provide direct assistance to Indigenous entrepreneurs,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan). “Whether it’s pivoting to an online presence and connecting with new customers or receiving help with administrative processes and recruitment, Indigenous entrepreneurs will get the opportunity to access a full suite of business services thanks to this collaboration between the Government of Canada and the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association.”

The support and subsequent growth of Indigenous business adds tremendous value to our local economy.  The region is home to some of Canada’s most successful and highly sought-after Indigenous entrepreneurs. They are not only leaders in business, but also major contributors to the socioeconomic fabric of our region through local job creation for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, environmental stewardship, and community philanthropy.

“Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo is a world-leader in Indigenous enterprise and economic participation,” said Kevin Weidlich, President and CEO of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development & Tourism. “As stewards of the local economy, we are delighted to support NAABA and its full member businesses as they work through economic recovery and increase their impact in the local and national marketplace.”

The program is currently in its design phase, with plans to move into the pilot stage by the end of this year. The pilot stage will run to the end 2023, with aspirations to transition in 2024 to a sustainable signature program NAABA offers its full members on an ongoing basis.

Media Contact

Michelle Toner, Executive Director

Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA)
Phone: (780) 791-0478