Report calls for action to increase access to capital for Indigenous entrepreneurs

Taking Steps report released at TMX Indigenous Investor Day aims to break down barriers and unlock capital for Indigenous enterprises in Canada

6 min readOct 19, 2023
Taking Steps report by Impact United/SVX, image of stone steps progressing upward on cliff overlooking expanse


TORONTO, ONTARIO, October 24th, 2023 — Today, SVX officially launched the report “Taking Steps — Addressing Capital Needs for Indigenous-Led Enterprises’’ at the Toronto Stock Exchange. This report was the culmination of an engagement effort supported by a set of cross-sectoral partners in philanthropy and financial services including First Nations Bank of Canada, Grand Challenges Canada, Lawson Foundation, Mastercard Foundation, McConnell Foundation, Ontario Trillium Foundation and TMX Group.

The report was informed by a yearlong effort of roundtables and one-on-one meetings with a diverse network of impact investors, mainstream institutions, and Indigenous entrepreneurs and intermediaries, to identify specific collective actions that could address key challenges that Indigenous-led enterprises face in raising private capital in Canada.

SVX launched this report in conjunction with the inaugural in-person TSX Indigenous Investor Day hosted by Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange. The event aims to promote the organizations’ shared commitment to economic reconciliation and highlighted Indigenous businesses to potential investors.

Taking Steps follows an interim publication, Pathways Forward, released in March 2023. The Pathways Forward report highlighted insights and action items that can help advance Indigenous access to investment capital. Enabling greater access to investment capital is a critical step to supporting the Indigenous economy and advancing economic reconciliation.

The Taking Steps report consolidates insights from the entire stakeholder engagement process and shares key recommendations on strategic initiatives that could tangibly increase Indigenous access to investment capital. The report aims to provide a deeper understanding of capital gaps, identify solutions to help finance Indigenous entrepreneurs and business owners, and influence and inform investors and asset owners across Canada.

Core questions that stakeholders sought to address included:

  • Challenging Current Perceptions: What perceptions and attitudes among Indigenous-led business owners and non-Indigenous investors are preventing the flow of more capital to this sector of the economy?
  • Building Bridges: How can more trust and understanding be established to encourage more support among investors and reduce trepidation among entrepreneurs in engaging with non-Indigenous stakeholders?
  • Re-Imagining Processes and Principles: What new thinking needs to be done and shared to break through the current barriers?
  • Developing new models: Are there existing or new approaches that can offer potential ways to move forward and unlock more catalytic capital for Indigenous-led businesses?

The report outlines ten (10) key actions to foster innovation, build relationships, and change narratives, including a call for Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders in philanthropy, financial services, and government to:

  • Develop an Indigenous-led Training and Mentorship program and circle;
  • Convene a national “Capital Skills Symposium” to bring together various providers of education targeted at Indigenous entrepreneurs and business owners;
  • Develop partnerships and programs to increase the number of Indigenous Directors in decision-making capacities for major corporations and investors;
  • Launch an Indigenous Finance Research Institute to develop solutions, provide data, insights and resources, and provide a place for Indigenous entrepreneurs to connect;
  • Convene and call business school leaders to action on the integration of Two-eyed seeing approaches to curriculum, recruiting Indigenous students, and forming partnerships with Indigenous organizations and communities;
  • Develop financing solutions and mobilize capital from Indigenous communities and institutions to finance Indigenous entrepreneurs and business owners; and
  • Organize an Indigenous and non-Indigenous policy consortium to advocate for policy change to support Indigenous entrepreneurs in areas from tax incentives to regulatory change allowing foundations to more easily finance Indigenous-led enterprises.

The next phase of this initiative will be to press for change and to identify current and new stakeholders who could lend support to the calls for action.

Heading into 2024, SVX will be focused on sharing and promoting this report to drive action and further engagement by other Indigenous and non-Indigenous actors in government, philanthropy, financial services, and beyond.

For more information and to access the full report, please visit:


“As a Canadian chartered bank primarily focused on providing financial services to the Indigenous marketplace, First Nations Bank of Canada has seen first-hand the challenges Indigenous entrepreneurs face in accessing other types of capital they need to grow. We are pleased to join with a group of like-minded organizations to explore why this gap exists and how it can be narrowed. This project was meant to start a dialogue with capital providers and Indigenous-led enterprises that will enlighten us all to find solutions that bridge the gap.” — Bill Lomax, President and CEO, First Nations Bank of Canada

“It was a wonderful opportunity to share our needs as Indigenous entrepreneurs, and I hope that our knowledge will bring the effective change that is required for entrepreneurs. We have provided our insights and used our voices and now it is time to match the needs.” — Denyse Nadon, Founder & COO, Tribalure Cosmetics & Skincare

“When you are the first at anything, breaking ground can be daunting. Stay true to yourself and your vision. This is what will define you and separate you from everyone else. No one is you, that is your strength.” — Bobbie Racette, Founder, Virtual Gurus and VG OnDemand

‘’Indigenous-led businesses face specific challenges when it comes to accessing capital, and overcoming these challenges presents an exciting economic opportunity for Indigenous entrepreneurs and their communities, investors, and all Canadians who ultimately benefit from economic growth. TMX Group is pleased to partner with SVX to further this important dialogue.’’ — Robert Peterman, Vice President, Global Business Development, Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture, and Director, SVX Board of Directors

“I am profoundly inspired by the collaborative efforts and dedication of all the stakeholders involved. This report is a testament to the power of collective action in addressing key challenges in the social finance sector. We believe it will serve as a guiding light for investors and asset owners across Canada, ushering in a new era of economic reconciliation and greater support for Indigenous businesses. Together, we aim to challenge perceptions, build trust, reimagine processes, and develop new models that will unlock catalytic capital for Indigenous-led enterprises, promoting a more inclusive and prosperous economic landscape.” — Richard Muller, Senior Advisor and Peer Leader, SVX

Quick Facts

  • Capital barriers facing Indigenous entrepreneurs date back to the Indian Act — a historic legislation first enacted in 1876 that introduced the reserve system in Canada and other policies designed to promote the assimilation of Indigenous communities. The Indian Act and other factors make it difficult for Indigenous nations to participate fully in the economy as owners of assets and from having access to capital.
  • The current gap in access to capital for Indigenous entrepreneurs compared to the level serving mainstream Canada is $83 billion, according to PayPal’s “The Power of Indigenous Entrepreneurship in Canada” report from 2021.
  • According to Export Development Canada (EDC), there are over 50,000 Indigenous-owned enterprises in Canada.
  • According to the Business Council of Canada, Indigenous enterprises significantly contribute over $30 billion to our national economy. Projections forecast this number to grow to $100 billion within the next five years.
  • The number of Indigenous business owners is growing at five times the rate of self-employed Canadians, according to The National Indigenous Economic Development Board.

Media Contacts

Paula Sahyoun

Manager, Systems Change and Social Finance | SVX

Gabriella Yapp

Communications Associate | SVX

Richard Muller

Senior Advisor and Peer Leader | SVX

About SVX Canada

SVX is a nonprofit, diversified financial services firm driving impact for investors, organizations, funds, and enterprises. We provide knowledge and insights, design strategies and products, manage funds, and operate a platform for raising impact capital and making impact investments. We work across sectors that deliver meaningful impact: climate, food, equity, housing, and community real estate, helping investors find and make impact investments and issuers raise impact capital. SVX is regulated by the Ontario Securities Commission and is registered as an Exempt Market Dealer (EMD) in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec. We have partners and operations across Canada, as well as in the US and Mexico. Since 2013, SVX has worked with over 500 funds, enterprises and organizations, clients have mobilized over $350 million in capital, and we maintain a network of over 1,200 impact investors. For more information, please visit




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