Alberta’s $1-billion Indigenous Opportunities Fund may widen gap between rich and poor First Nations groups – by Geoffrey Morgan (October 15, 2019)

CALGARY – The inspiration for Alberta’s new $1 billion fund for Indigenous business investments came from the successes of real-world First Nations business ventures, but some of those Indigenous groups are warning the provincial government to look closely at the details in their plan to ensure widespread participation in the initiative.

The intent of the recently announced Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corp., a $1-billion fund from the province for Indigenous business investments, is “so good” but the law creating the fund needs to be more focused and some details clarified, said Paul Poscente, CEO and chair of Backwoods Energy Services, an oilfield services company owned by the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation west of Edmonton.

“One of the biggest constraints in Indigenous business is access to capital and I think the intent of the fund is to address this but I think they need to be very careful that they’re not going to actually create a wider gap,” said Poscente said, adding that there are a handful of wealthy First Nations communities in the province that will have the business acumen to access the funds.

“Those few communities that have real business teams and have real capacity to access this corporation, it’s going to be their bank, and the gap between those and the have-nots are actually going to get wider,” Poscente said, adding that the Alexis Nation, which purchased Backwoods in 2015, is among the First Nations in the province with business teams and expertise in place to leverage the fund.

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