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Program or Service First Peoples Economic Growth Fund

Province Commits $20 Million To Fund in First Five Years


The First Peoples Economic Growth Fund opens its doors officially today with a wealth of programs to assist First Nations entrepreneurs launch or build their own businesses, Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Oscar Lathlin has announced.

"This fund will play a critical role in helping First Nations Manitobans tap into business opportunities across the province," Lathlin said. "By helping individual entrepreneurs grow their businesses, we are creating more job opportunities for all members of First Nations."

The First Peoples Economic Growth Fund is an independent,
not-for-profit corporation jointly developed by the province and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC). The fund was formally incorporated on Oct. 3, 2007.

"Entrepreneurship is a key to sustainable economic development for First Nations because it is a sign that our people are taking control of their own futures by taking ownership of their economies," said AMC Grand Chief Ron Evans. "The First Peoples Economic Growth Fund will encourage this kind of entrepreneurship and take a great step forward toward eradicating poverty for our First Nations people."

The fund offers help for First Nations entrepreneurs in six ways:

- Entrepreneur Interest-free Loan Program: Eligible business owners will be able to apply for amounts up $200,000.

- Community Economic Expansion Interest-free Loan Program: Eligible business owners will be able to apply for loans up to $300,000; up to $75,000 may be non-payable.

- Business Plan Assistance Program: Enterprises that need help with a business plan may be eligible for financial help up to $20,000.

- Business Skills Development Program: Training to develop management and marketing skills will be covered up to 75 per cent of approved costs for eligible entrepreneurs.

- Joint Venture Investment Program: Financing for eligible medium-large First Nations-owned businesses will be available up to $1 million.

- Aftercare Program: Funding of up to $20,000 will be available for professional support for eligible businesses.

"The menu of programs that we offer at First Peoples Economic Growth Fund were carefully designed to provide assistance to First Nation business development and expansion that are not
normally offered elsewhere," said Patricia Turner, board chair of the fund. "Thus, we feel well positioned to help First Nation business harvest those viable opportunities that will enhance their participation and success in the Manitoba economy."

A five-member board of directors will oversee the fund. The five members are:

- Patricia Turner (board chair) ­- First Nations entrepreneur and co-founder of the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce;

- Bob Silver - president, Western Glove Works;

- Bob Brennan - president and CEO Manitoba Hydro;

- Bruce Burton - consultant to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal businesses; and

- Janesca Kydd - Winnipeg lawyer with expertise in corporate, commercial and Aboriginal law.

In its first five years, the fund will be backed by $20 million from Manitoba Lotteries Corporation profits. This money will be administered through Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs.

"The fund will give priority to those projects that can act as a catalyst for further economic development," said Attorney General Dave Chomiak, minister responsible for the Manitoba Gaming Control Commission. "The future off this province hinges on the strong participation of First Nations people in the economy."
Organization Joint venture between AMC and Province of Manitoba

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E-mail info@firstpeoplesfund.ca
Website http://www.firstpeoplesfund.ca
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