Indigenous groups form procurement organization

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Five national Indigenous economic organizations have banded together with full support of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to create a first of its kind, First Nations Procurement Organization (FNPO).

The groundbreaking initiative is set to help First Nations peoples and businesses overcome systemic barriers in accessing federal procurement opportunities. The FNPO will also help ensure Canada meets its minimum five per cent Indigenous procurement target by measuring progress and data.

“This initiative embodies a beacon of hope, symbolizing the collective strength and determination of First Nations representatives united in their resolve to bridge the economic disparities that have long persisted,” says National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association CEO Shannin Metatawabin. “The FNPO stands as a testament to Indigenous ingenuity and resilience, paving the way towards a future where economic parity and prosperity are realized by First Nations, fostering a landscape of opportunity across Canada.”

The federal government spends approximately $22 billion every year procuring goods and services from businesses across Canada. Currently, less than one per cent of that spend goes towards Indigenous businesses.

The FNPO brings together organizations and leadership from within the First Nations economic landscape from coast to coast to coast. With support from AFN, the group includes AFOA Canada, the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (CANDO), First Nations Finance Authority (FNFA), First Nations Financial Management Board (FMB), and the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA).

First Nations businesses showcase resilience in navigating barriers while striving to engage fully in procurement opportunities. These entrepreneurs encounter systemic biases embedded within the existing procurement ecosystem and to be successful in bidding opportunities, must overcome multi-faceted administrative challenges, and seek enhanced tools empowering them to address intricate government requests.

“Government procurement is designed to be risk-averse, which means that it’s hard for companies to win contracts unless they have historically worked with the government,” said Jean Vincent, chair of the NACCA board of directors. “We know this excludes many First Nations businesses and we know it makes meeting the five per cent procurement target challenging. However, through this organization, and by working together collaboratively for the good of the First Nations economy, we know we will create huge impacts that benefit everyone.”


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