FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 19, 2020
Regina, SK – In collaboration with strategic partners, and feedback from Indigenous women entrepreneurs, WESK (Women Entrepreneurs Saskatchewan) developed the Matchstick program to support Indigenous women in their entrepreneurial journey. Matchstick offered business planning, mentoring, business advising, and financing to over 300 Indigenous women entrepreneurs (see Matchstick Backgrounder).
To advance the momentum achieved during the three-year pilot and move to the next phase of Matchstick, WESK and FHQ Developments Ltd. have committed to a long-term strategic partnership to enhance entrepreneurial capacity for Indigenous women entrepreneurs.
WESK CEO Prabha Mitchell said, “The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FHQ Developments is not only pivotal as FHQ was a member on the Advisory Council of the original Matchstick program; but it further strengthens our ability and capacity to support Indigenous women in an impactful way.”
WESK has incorporated Matchstick into its core programming and services. The MOU will not only support Matchstick but also include collaboratively seeking solutions to identify and address gaps and challenges and seize opportunities for Saskatchewan Indigenous women entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses. In addition, the two organizations will address strategies to enhance diversity in the supply chains and in procurement.
“This is an important alliance for FHQ Developments in the development of Indigenous women entrepreneurs within our territory and beyond. We are very proud of the work we have done together with WESK through Matchstick and look forward to adding more Indigenous entrepreneurs so that we can continue to diversify Saskatchewan’s economy”, said Thomas Benjoe, CEO and President of FHQ Developments.
A report entitled Indigenous Women Entrepreneurship in Canada (July 2020), released by the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, noted that though Indigenous women account for 51% of the Canadian Indigenous population, they make up only 41% of the self-employed Indigenous population.
Not unlike all women entrepreneurs, Indigenous women entrepreneurs encounter challenges in entrepreneurship related to their gender. The same report as above noted that the main barrier is access to financing, followed by balancing family responsibilities, lack of support within their communities and limited access to business training. These challenges were also conveyed in the Matchstick roundtable discussions with Saskatchewan Indigenous entrepreneurs, along with additional barriers including lack of mentoring and networking opportunities and limited business advising services.
To learn more about the MOU contact:
Josie Fries, Marketing Advisor, WESK
Thomas Benjoe, President and CEO, FHQ Developments Ltd.
WESK is a non-profit, membership-based organization that provides business advisory; start-up, purchase and expansion lending; mentoring and networking and learning opportunities. WESK is supported by Western Economic Diversification Canada.
About FHQ Developments
In 2010, the 11-member First Nation communities of File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (FHQTC), representing over 16,000 First Nation citizens and 435,000 acres of reserve lands in Treaty 4 territory, formed FHQ Developments as a limited partnership agreement.
The mission of FHQ Developments is to contribute to the long-term economic independence and prosperity of our Limited Partners and our citizens by developing profitable business ventures and economic development opportunities while advancing employment and livelihood for our Nations and citizens in a manner consistent with the Nehiyaw (Cree), Dakota, Nakota, Lakota, and Anishinaabe (Saulteaux) Nations teachings.