Supporting the growth and success of Indigenous small businesses

  • Recipient: Biskane Inc. and eSupply Canada
  • Region: Simcoe County
  • Most recent funding allocated: $1.6 million

With our platform, Indigenous peoples will be better equipped to take full advantage of the government's and industry's commitments to economic reconciliation and supply chain diversity.

Steven Vanloffeld,
Founder and CEO, eSupply Canada

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, but operating a small business comes with a number of challenges including reaching national markets and establishing an effective online presence. Here are two FedDev Ontario supported Indigenous companies that are finding solutions for today's business challenges.

Nearly 60 years ago, social justice activist Dr. Art Solomon recognized the difficulty that northern Indigenous artists faced in transporting their goods to southern consumers. Seeing this challenge, Dr. Solomon established the World Art Council to provide Indigenous artists with the opportunity to sell their art on a nationwide scale. Today, Chad Solomon is taking on his grandfather's mission with a modern twist by establishing a digital marketplace. Biskane Inc. provides Indigenous artists and merchants with reliable supply chain management and a network of consumers who are looking to shop authentic Indigenous products on a global scale.

In a recent interview with Simcoe.com, founder Chad Solomon stated "My grandfather tried to start a vision like this back in the mid-'60s….Through his vision, I wanted to be able to do something similar to help our community grow in a way that's both very tactile, very real and move us into the digital age."

While serving as a Band Councillor for Saugeen First Nation, Steven Vanloffeld also saw an opportunity to help Indigenous businesses compete on a global scale by harnessing technology. When Vanloffeld noticed how frequently big-box trucks were visiting his communities he wanted to find a solution that would redirect spending from multi-billion dollar companies back into the pockets of local entrepreneurs. After researching his options, Vanloffeld established eSupply Canada, a one-stop-shop e-commerce portal that allows Indigenous small businesses to effortlessly sell their products on a national scale and become more competitive.

"With our platform, Indigenous peoples will be better equipped to take full advantage of the government's and industry's commitments to economic reconciliation and supply chain diversity."- Steven Vanloffeld, Founder and CEO, eSupply Canada

With the success of both Biskane and eSupply Canada in providing solutions to the challenges that small businesses face, the two companies looked to grow and diversify their offerings.

With an investment of $1.1 million, eSupply Canada will implement new digital services to improve customer experience and increase e-commerce revenue. This will result in the creation of eight new jobs and will create more opportunities for the Indigenous community. Biskane will utilize its investment of up to $500,000 to increase the ease of supply chain management and enhance its mobile security. It will also increase the visibility of small businesses within its platforms by partnering with local Indigenous social media influencers. This investment will result in the creation of seven new positions and enhance the online marketplace for Indigenous businesses.

Since November 2015, FedDev Ontario has contributed more than $75 million to support more than 240 Indigenous-led and Indigenous-focused projects. Through these investments, we are supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs in realizing their goals and ensuring that small businesses continue to be a part of our communities and local economy.

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