Since its establishment as a corporation in 1986, the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund has been a staple in the Indigenous business and entrepreneurial sector.
Brian Davey couldn’t be happier with the success rate of the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund. As the executive director, Davey oversees the entire operation that is the stepping-stone for Indigenous businesses.
“We’re happy with the results we’ve seen.”
NADF delivers the tools and services necessary for businesses to thrive that are wholly, or 51 per cent majority owned by Indigenous people located on and off reserve. This includes the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (Treaty 5), Treaty 9, Treaty 3 and Robinson-Superior 1850.
NADF has given $47 million to 900 businesses all over NWO, one third of them in Thunder Bay.
“This is a positive [place] for Indigenous businesses to be located, it’s got a large market,” Davey says. The largest market in Northwestern Ontario.
And the businesses are a vast array of success stories. From bus services and dental hygienists, to hair salons and retail outlets, NADF is providing funding and tools for a plethora of entrepreneurial success stories.
One such familiar one being the Haven Hostel, located in downtown Port Arthur and providing a new kind of hospitality the city was missing prior to its inception in 2017. This is just one of the success stories Davey is proud to tell.
A hard reality
Even with their successes, Davey isn’t one to minimize the loss when a business doesn’t succeed.
“Even though the number is small, we do feel when a business goes down.”
For a community as tightknit as Thunder Bay, a loss is felt throughout the community and COVID-19 made that glaringly clear. NADF has assisted with this not being so detrimental to our city.
NADF offered their businesses up to $40,000 in grant and loan money with 0 per cent interest to cover fixed costs. A saving grace during a time when businesses didn’t have a choice but to shut down for the safety of our community.
“We’re trying to help as much as we can… it’s tough to watch.”
A gain through loss
Fortunately, prior to COVID-19, NADF had already shifted into an online platform to communicate with their team and clients.
With the everchanging environment of business savvy technology, NADF grabbed onto this and began the move prior to this new normal so the move was an easy transition for client communication.
This is especially important when NADF is communicating with clients, not only for funding, but because of the workshops and business development they offer.
This is what separates them from an everyday bank just interested in the capital. NADF is involved throughout the beginning, middle and successful growth an entrepreneur goes through when making their plan come to fruition.
“It feels good to see something grow from an idea into an actual business that feeds a certain sector of the economy.”
Davey says the transition of businesses going from one to two employees when they approach NADF with their idea, to growing and adding an entire staff, is one of the best parts about assisting dreamers with their entrepreneurial goals.
Discovering what’s next
As any entrepreneur knows, it’s the daily steps that create the biggest success stories. Davey knows this more than anyone and takes pride in the work NADF is doing for the community.
“When it comes to creating wealth, the minds come together as one and that’s important.”
Through workshops that are now accessible through their website and awards that bring every face from the community together in support of local businesses, NADF will be here to supply the tools needed for Indigenous, entrepreneurial victory.