Siksika Nation blazes a new trail in community economic development

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In it’s first year, Siksika Nation’s $2.7 M developmental loan fund has been fully deployed in loans to nation members starting or expanding businesses on and off reserve. The fund is the result of a joint partnership agreement between Siksika and Indian Business Corporation (IBC) in which $2M of band trust money was used to set up the fund at IBC who in turn loaned the money directly to nation members. The Government of Alberta recognized this as a unique approach to community economic development they wanted to get behind — which they did with a $700,000 contribution to the fund. Terrapin Social Finance was engaged to document how the project came together and to help prepare the following year-one evaluation report. “We think the Siksika loan fund at Indian Business Corporation is a really good way to put trust money to work for the community without putting it at great risk.” says Trace MacKay, chief evaluation officer at Terrapin. “At the end of the loan agreement, the capital still belongs to Siksika and IBC has furthered its mission to expand access to capital for First Nation entrepreneurs.” MacKay points out that the report at this stage focuses on stories and outputs only. “It’s too soon to talk about social change”, she says. “We look forward to following the fund over the life of the six year agreement to document longer term social outcomes that arise when entrepreneurs gain access to capital.”