Spotlight on the Indigenous Women’s Entrepreneur Program with FNAFO


At Shop First Nations, our heartbeat is the empowerment and upliftment of Indigenous communities through practical and impactful collaborations. We recently embarked on an exhilarating journey to Ontario, where we had the honour of hosting workshops in partnership with First Nations Agriculture & Finance Ontario (FNAFO). This experience was not just an opportunity for us to share knowledge but also a chance to witness the profound impact of FNAFO's Indigenous Women's Entrepreneur Program and its work for Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Women's Entrepreneur Program FNAFO & SFN

A Legacy of Impact and Empowerment through the Indigenous Women's Entrepreneur Program

First Nations Agriculture Ontario (FNAFO) has been a steadfast ally for Indigenous entrepreneurs since the 1980s, delivering a comprehensive array of services such as financing, advisory support, training, and workshops. With a focus on sectors from construction to retail, FNAFO has played a pivotal role in the start-up and expansion of countless Indigenous businesses, prominently featuring the Indigenous Women's Entrepreneur Program.

Our visit to their head office illuminated the depth of FNAFO's commitment

Interacting with the team and their clients, we gained a richer understanding of their dedication. The staff's unwavering support for their clients and their detailed knowledge of finance, especially within Ontario's agricultural sector, were particularly impressive. Team members Jacklyn, Camden, and Steve exemplify a personalized approach, building strong relationships with each client, guiding them through every stage, and fostering a space for open discussion about their dreams, challenges, and business successes.

A highlight of our visit was meeting with the founders of Shades Of Gray Indigenous Pet Treats, Keri Gray and Brian Chaney, alumni of the First Nations Women's Entrepreneur Program. Their journey from participants in FNAFO's First Nations Business Start-Up Expansive Program, Indigenous Business Finance Program, and the COVID-Relief Program to successful entrepreneurs underscores the transformative power of blending traditional wisdom with contemporary business strategies.

Shades of Gray, a beacon of pride and entrepreneurship, showcases the impactful outcomes of FNAFO's initiatives, particularly the Indigenous Women's Entrepreneur Program. This 100% woman-owned business, celebrated by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, has contributed significantly to the economies of Campbellford and Alderville First Nation through environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. Their high-quality, natural pet treats, available through various purchasing options, demonstrate how commitment and creativity can forge paths to significant achievements. Discover more about Shades Of Gray and its contribution to the Indigenous Women's Entrepreneur Program in our dedicated blog post here.

Women's Entrepreneur Program Client Shades Of Gray

Accepting New Applicants Now! First Nations Women Entrepreneur Mentorship Program in Ontario

This program is a beacon of hope and support for First Nations Women Entrepreneurs, providing them with the tools, resources, and guidance necessary to either launch or expand their businesses. Through mentorship from experienced First Nations women entrepreneurs, micro-grants, and a variety of learning opportunities, the program aims to lay a solid foundation for sustainable business ventures. Grants of up to $3,000, a 6-month commitment, and specialized support for First Nation Women and 2Spirit Individuals over 18 years old, this program is designed to transform dreams into tangible success.

Learn more about the First Nations Women Entrepreneur Mentorship Program here.

Let’s Get Growing with the FNAFO Micro Loans Program

For those ready to elevate their business, the Micro Loans program offers a golden opportunity. With loans of up to $15,000, no payments for the first year, and a requirement of just 5% equity contribution from the applicant, this program is tailored to ease the financial burden on emerging Indigenous entrepreneurs. Additionally, it offers workshops, business planning guidance, and coaching, emphasizing FNWE's dedication to not just fund businesses, but also to nurture and guide them towards sustained growth.

Learn more about FNAFO’s Micro Loans Program here.

Our experiences with First Nations Agriculture & Finance Ontario have been nothing short of inspiring, showcasing the meaningful impact of initiatives like the Indigenous Women's Entrepreneur Program and the Micro Loans Program on Indigenous entrepreneurship. Seeing businesses like Shades Of Gray Indigenous Pet Treats thrive underscores the significance of such programs. At Shop First Nations, we remain committed to supporting and collaborating with FNAFO, aiming to create an environment where Indigenous entrepreneurs can integrate their cultural values into Canada's economic landscape. We encourage First Nations entrepreneurs interested in starting or expanding their ventures to consider these invaluable opportunities. By joining hands, we can foster a flourishing community that honours our heritage while embracing progress.

Explore how to engage in this exciting journey and support the growth of First Nations communities. Learn more about the First Nations Women Entrepreneur Mentorship Program and the Micro Loans Program by following the FNAFO Facebook page, and be part of the positive change.

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