If Clint Davis is right, First Nations businesses are about to soar. Davis, president and CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, talks of “a huge blossoming of activity.”
The aboriginal population is growing faster than other segments of Canadian society; land claims settlements have given aboriginals access to capital for investment and, because of that, more aboriginals have gone entrepreneurial. A federal study in 2002 concluded that aboriginals were starting small companies at a rate nine times faster than in the general population. A new generation of business stars has also grown up. Here are five of the most prominent:
Blaine Favel, president and CEO, One Earth Resources Corp: A Harvard MBA and former Grand Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, develops resource projects with aboriginal partners. Favel also chairs One Earth Farms Corp., which is investing $27.5 million in corporate farming on aboriginal lands.
Clarence Louie, CEO, Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corp: A straight talker who believes First Nations people should concentrate on creating jobs, the Osoyoos B.C. Band chief has built eight businesses involved in construction, forestry, vineyards, retail and golf.
Keith Martell, executive chair, First Nations Bank of Canada: Martell has headed the 13-year bank since its inception, tailoring services for the aboriginal market through six branches and three community banking centres. Assets have more than doubled to $253 million.
Mike Metatawabin, president, Five Nations Energy Inc: Metatawabin runs Canada’s only First Nations-owned electricity transmission company.
Allan McLeod, president and CEO, Tribal Councils Investment Group of Manitoba: TCIG’s investments on behalf of 55 First Nations include Arctic Beverages Ltd., a Pepsi/Frito Lay franchise and a health claims processing system, First Canadian Health Management Corp. McLeod oversees annual sales of more than $61 million.