The Indian Business Corporation (IBC) has released a study centered on the Indigenous Women’s Loan Fund (IWLF) and the benefits of investing in Indigenous businesswomen. The Indigenous Business Women report finds that IWLF recipients are nearly four times less likely to default on business loans than the male clients of IBC.

Coady graduate Candace Coby Royal (Indigenous Women in Community Leadership, 2019) supported the report through her company, Sahmii Knowledge Solutions, who IBC contracted for third-party evaluation services. Additionally, as a former recipient of IWLF, Coby was one of several recipients who provided feedback about their experience with the program, which helped inform the report’s findings.

“I hope this report will highlight why more Indigenous businesswomen are worth investing in and shows that Indigenous women are resilient, resourceful, impactful, and influential,” Coby says.

“Women are the change makers in their communities.”

While the report features a number of success stories, and promising growth for Indigenous entrepreneurship in Canada, it also outlines a number of systematic barriers than Indigenous women face in trying to create and operate businesses.

The report closes with a four-point challenge to investing communities:

  1. to achieve gender parity in lending;
  2. to increase networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities that specifically support Indigenous businesswomen;
  3. to establish procurement practices that are fair to Indigenous-owned business; and
  4. to act on racism and sexism by adopting recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

In summer of 2019, Coby earned a contract to facilitate three Indigenous Women Engagement Sessions for IBC. She used that experience as the inspiration for her community initiative, the Indigenous Women in Business Network, which she designed and implemented as part of Coady’s Indigenous Women in Leadership (IWCL) program.

“The IWCL program at Coady has provided me with further exploring opportunities to give back to the women involved with IBC,” Coby says. “However, I believe my view was narrow until I was provided guidance from my two mentors, Karen McKenzie and Karri-Lynn Paul. Through many discussions, I began to see that I should be more inclusive when working with Indigenous women in Calgary.”

Looking to the future, Coby is excited for what may come next.

“I look forward to where my business will grow and expand,” she says.

“I am grateful for my husband and children who support my endeavours.”