Indigenous economic development in Atlantic Canada

Indigenous businesses and organizations play a vital role in strengthening Canada’s economy. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) offers several funding programs to support your business and help your community grow. 

Circular nets on water connected by floating pathway

WFN Fish Farm Partnership, Whycocomagh, N.S.

Reach out now if you’re ready to start or grow your business, or if you have a great community project in mind. The goals of each program differ, but they all aim to help Indigenous communities grow their economies and create good-paying jobs. ACOA is determined to play its part in building a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect and partnership.


New Indigenous Business Navigator service

To help make things easier for Indigenous businesses, organizations, and communities, a new service is now available through Indigenous Services Canada: the Indigenous Business Navigator. This new service provides a single point of contact that connects Indigenous organizations and businesses to services and programs from different Government of Canada departments.


ACOA Programs and Initiatives

Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI)

If you’re an Indigenous entrepreneur, REGI can help you start and grow a business in Atlantic Canada.

Innovative Communities Fund (ICF)

Indigenous communities and Indigenous-controlled non-profit entities could receive ICF support for projects to grow their communities.

Business Development Program (BDP)

The BDP can help you hire experts, create a business plan, or improve your productivity. You could qualify for non-repayable or repayable interest-free funding.

Community Futures (CF)

The CF program provides business advice, training and funding through more than 40 Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs) in Atlantic Canada.

COVID-19 support

Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF)

The CCRF can help your community build and improve community spaces to help rebound from the effects of the pandemic. Under the fund, ACOA can contribute up to 100% funding for projects with Indigenous groups.

Jobs and Growth Fund

We can help your business or community create jobs and position your local economy for long-term growth. Under the Jobs and Growth Fund, ACOA may contribute up to 100% of eligible costs for projects with Indigenous clients.

Tourism Relief Fund (TRF)

The TRF helps Indigenous tourism businesses adapt to public-health measures and position themselves for future growth. Contributions to non-profit Indigenous entities could be non-repayable.

Other Government of Canada support for Indigenous economic development

Indigenous Services Canada

If you’re looking for support for your business in these difficult times, check out the Indigenous Services Canada page for COVID support. On this page, you’ll find support for businesses, as well as information on how to increase business skills or develop land in your community. Reach out to Indigenous Services Canada in Atlantic Canada to learn more or to apply for funding.

Indigenous Business Navigator

Connect your business, organization or community to Government of Canada programs and services for business. Whether you are looking to access capital, or looking for help with community economic development planning, the navigator will help you find the information and support that best fits your needs.

Indigenous business export support program

If you’re an Indigenous business or community looking to reach international markets, this program may be able to help. It offers export funding to businesses that are majority-owned and operated by Indigenous people or communities.

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

If you are an Indigenous entrepreneur looking to grow and succeed, the BDC can provide access to financing and advisory services.

Export Development Canada (EDC)

Indigenous exporters can find small business solutions and seize opportunities abroad at Export Development Canada. See how EDC can help you reach international buyers.

Additional support for Indigenous economic development in Atlantic Canada

Ulnooweg Development Group – Atlantic Canada’s Indigenous Financial Institution

Ulnooweg Development Group provides loans and business services to Indigenous entrepreneurs in Atlantic Canada. It also helps Indigenous decision-makers improve skills in governance and financial management.

Canadian Council for Indigenous Business (CCIB)

The CCIB builds bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, businesses and communities through diverse programming, tools and training.

Business Benefits Finder

Find the right programs and services for your business, whether you’re starting out or ready to grow. Get a curated list of support options by adding in a bit of information about your situation and your business needs.

Canada Business App ─ Your mobile business partner

Here’s an app that will make it even easier for you to find government programs and services to help your business start up, scale up and reach new markets.

Please note that this list is not a complete inventory of all Government of Canada funding programs and initiatives as well as advisory support resources available to Indigenous businesses, groups and communities. For more information, please visit the Business and Industry page of the Government of Canada.

Contact us today!

You’re not finding what you need? Contact ACOA Business Information Services and we’ll be happy to help. Speak to an ACOA employee to get business information and learn more about support from all levels of government. Call us at 1-888-576-4444.

Or email us at:

Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm (Atlantic time)

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