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Stories that Inspire a Nation

What's in Store for Indigenous Businesses in 2024

by Steven McCoy
January 5, 2024


Back in 2012 when I started combing the Internet for positive news stories about successful Indigenous entrepreneurs to share on my social media platforms with the intent of inspiring a nation into celebrating and supporting Indigenous people in business, the hunt was as elusive as spotting a sacred white moose while driving through Northern Ontario.  Back then, mainstream media wasn’t too interested in publishing news stories about us Indigenous people unless we were murdered, missing or protesting.


Fast forward 12 years later, and my Google Alerts are filled with daily news stories about other successful Indigenous entrepreneurs who are grinding and thriving in the business world.  Finding positive stories about Indigenous entrepreneurs on the internet today is about as common as finding an Indian Taco at a powwow!


So, what's in store for Indigenous entrepreneurs in Canada for 2024 and beyond?  Here are my thoughts.


We are entering a new era for Indigenous-owned businesses and entrepreneurs where the Canadian markets and governments are waking up to the fact that Indigenous businesses are more than capable, and sometimes better apt than their non-Indigenous counterparts, in not only running and managing a successful business, but making the community around them a better place for everyone to live in.


Indigenous business owners tend to have social aspects almost intrinsically built into their business models, which are designed to give back to the community in ways that go beyond just making a monetary donation to a local charity or sponsoring a community event.  These social aspects include such things as hiring disadvantaged and marginalized people like prison convicts re-entering society or people with disabilities.  Furthermore, most Indigenous businesses tend to recruit and employ other Indigenous people, which creates more job opportunities for our people to succeed, grow and thrive which makes us healthy contributing members of the local community.


Another example of our intrinsic cultural desire to live as part of mother nature is how Indigenous businesses thrive to be more eco-friendly.  I personally know many Indigenous businesses in the food and beverage industry that use more sustainable products that are biodegradable as opposed to plastics, despite the extra costs, and will only buy their products from reputable suppliers who share the same social vision as they do. Many Indigenous entrepreneurs not only want to make money in the marketplace, but they want to make a difference in their surrounding communities and afar.  Watch for more Indigenous businesses that have social aspects woven into the fabric of their business operations moving into 2024 and beyond.


Rewind back to 2012 to when I was seeking out positive news stories about Indigenous people on the internet, I was also attending university earning my bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in marketing.  From my own personal observation, I noticed a distinct lack of Indigenous students enrolled in major professional fields such as business, law and politics despite there being a large population of Indigenous students on campus.


Back to present day, we now have abundantly more Indigenous people with educational designations in professional fields like business, law, and politics, who are committed to supporting and contributing to the betterment of their own First Nation community and fellow Indigenous people in general.


As more of our people become educated in the fields of business, law and politics, we demand the same level of knowledge, experience and education from our leadership and band administrators and we call upon them to provide environments that support local entrepreneurship amongst their membership as opposed to Indian Act policies that pervade poverty and reliance on governmental assistance.


Through collective pressure internally from band members demanding leaders who are dedicated to the betterment of their people and pressure externally from the general Canadian public who want to see Indigenous people thrive, First Nation politicians and administrators are being subjugated into the actual roles that governing bodies should be doing, such as building and maintaining proper infrastructure to support both residential, commercial and industrial development and managing social programs, like health, education and public works instead of operating for-profit businesses like gas stations, retail stores and hospitality venues.


Beyond critical infrastructure like energy and communications, First Nation owned enterprises should not be operating for-profit businesses that of which can be operated by entrepreneurs from the community.  I know this is not always possible due to different factors such as minuscule population size, dire social issues, remote location and proximity to a viable market, but in places where entrepreneurs have developed out of the community, band-owned entities may view these individuals as competitors and create hostile environments towards their own entrepreneurial members.


So, as our people become more prosperous in the economic arena and designated Indigenous professionals return to their motherland armed with altruistic and educated views and opinions driven by inherent traditional Indigenous knowledge and wisdom, watch for old guards of the past to fall and new progressive, experienced and educated leaders to rise in their place as we move into 2024 and beyond.


Successful Indigenous entrepreneurship stories have now become common place in the media and look for that trend to build more momentum into the new year as Indigenous entrepreneurs continue to;


  1. reclaim their rightful place on the economic playing field, 

  2. exert their traditional Indigenous views onto the business world and, 

  3. become fierce professionals who demand no less than full support and respect from their community leaders and administrators. 


Our resilience as a people to not only survive, but thrive within societal structures that were designed to repress and eliminate us, has contributed to the creation of savvy Indigenous entrepreneurs who can pivot and change direction when needed.  


In a time when many businesses across Canada are currently struggling to adapt to today’s rapidly changing and challenging marketplace, Indigenous business owners will continue building prosperity for themselves and their communities moving into 2024 and beyond!


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Steven McCoy is an Ojibwe from Garden River First Nation in Northern Ontario and life-long resident of Sault Ste. Marie in the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850 territory.  He is the founder of Indigenbiz where he publishes his journalistic work highlighting Indigenous people in business.  ​


He is also a successful businessman who specializes in communications, marketing, public relations, events management and Indigenous liaison through another company he founded called Gencity Inc.​  In addition, Steven is a skilled public and motivational speaker with a unique ability to capture the audience's attention through descriptive story telling and draws upon his life experiences growing up in the city while overcoming poverty, abandonment and racism to achieve success.

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