Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

March 15, 2008 12:00 ET

Canada Strengthens NWT Business Development Fund

YELLOWKNIFE, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES--(Marketwire - March 15, 2008) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians, announced today an investment in the Metis-Dene Development Fund (MDDF) that will allow the MDDF to expand its small and medium-sized business lending services throughout the NWT.

"Through the Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development (SINED) initiative, the Government of Canada is proud to invest in organizations supporting small and medium-sized businesses," said Minister Strahl. "This investment of $1.6 million will enable the NWT Metis-Dene Development Fund to expand business development lending to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal businesses throughout the NWT, which will strengthen and diversify regional economies."

Expansion of the existing loan fund will:

- Increase the availability of business development lending to small and medium- sized businesses in the NWT;

- Leverage benefits of non-renewable resource development in the NWT by supporting early-stage small and medium sized business development; and

- Grow the MDDF loan portfolio to a level where it can be financially self-sustaining and provide ongoing benefits to the people of the NWT.

By extending its coverage to non-Aboriginal businesses, especially in areas outside Yellowknife, the MDDF will achieve economies of scale and be able to serve more distant parts of the territory. In addition, the larger scale will diversify risk, strengthen the MDDF's overall portfolio, and decrease dependency on government funding.

"The additional capital will enable the MDDF to not only serve Dene and Metis but all Northern residents," says Jake Heron, Chair, NWT Metis-Dene Development Fund. "This will allow all communities, especially those underserved by traditional financial institutions, to pursue market economic opportunities."

This announcement reinforces the commitment in the recent Speech from the Throne to advance an integrated Northern Strategy focused on strengthening Canada's sovereignty, protecting our environmental heritage, promoting economic and social development, and improving and devolving governance. Today's announcement supports improving economic opportunities and helping to meet the needs of Northerners.


BACKGROUNDER

The NWT Metis-Dene Development Fund Ltd. (MDDF) is an Aboriginal Capital Corporation that has been providing financial services in the Northwest Territories since 1991. During this time, MDDF has established a reliable reputation for serving Metis and Dene small and medium-sized enterprises in the NWT, with above-average performance as measured against other Aboriginal Capital Corporations across the country. The MDDF's current portfolio is $3.25 million, and due to its success, the loan fund is fully loaned out at a time when the regional economy is healthy and there is increasing demand for developmental capital.

The NWT Metis Development Corporation and the Denendeh Development Corporation each hold 50% of MDDF's shares. The NWT Metis Development Corporation is a widely held private corporation with shareholding restricted to Metis individuals. The shares of Denendeh Development Corporation are held by the 27 First Nations of the NWT. These shares are held in trust and voted by the Tribal Councils to which each First Nation belongs.

The original mandate of MDDF was to provide financial and related advisory services to Aboriginal businesses on an ongoing basis. This mandate has since been expanded by board resolution to include the provision of loans and services to all residents of the NWT, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.

The NWT Metis-Dene Development Fund is expanding its client base to include all small and medium-sized enterprises in the territory, and to develop its portfolio to a point where it can achieve financial sustainability.

The loan fund will be delivered and administered as a subset of NWT Metis-Dene Development Fund's existing loan portfolio (currently serving the Metis and Dene populations of NWT) according to established policies and procedures. A panel will be established to review all approved and declined applications to ensure that the fund is accessible to all clients. The committee will consist of three people, including a designated Aboriginal member of the organizations' Board of Directors, its General Manager, and an independent appointee chosen by the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce. The Review Committee will respond to any questions which may arise with respect to access, and will provide oversight and guidance on marketing and other issues.

The Strategic Investment in Northern Economic Development (SINED) focuses on strengthening the NWT's economic foundations and the driving sectors of the economy. Enhancing the developmental lending capital gap has been identified as a strategic investment area under the Targeted Investment Program (TIP).

Contact Information

  • Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
    Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
    Josee Bellemare
    819-997-0002
    or
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada,
    NWT Region
    Deb Bain
    Communications Officer
    867-669-2579