COVID-19, system barriers challenging Indigenous women who own businesses: study


TORONTO — Researchers behind a new study say Canadian businesses owned by Indigenous women have been steadily growing, but that progress is being threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic and other systemic barriers.

The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub say the proportion of businesses owned by Indigenous women and with revenue greater than $1 million doubled to reach nine per cent in 2019, up from four per cent in 2015.

While most Indigenous women that are business owners are sole-proprietors, the percentage with employees hit 42 per cent in 2019, up from 23 per cent in 2010.

The findings come from more than 3,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis business owners surveyed by phone in 2010, 2015 and 2019.

The report warns the pandemic has exacerbated many of the structural and social barriers that Indigenous women entrepreneurs have faced and is putting their gains in jeopardy.

It says 91 per cent of Indigenous businesses experienced a negative impact stemming from the virus, with 76 per cent seeing a decrease in revenues and 65 per cent noticing a drop in demand for products and services.