Startup Canada Announces New Indigenous-Led Partnerships

Ottawa, ON – March 30, 2021 | Developing and maintaining resources and support networks created by and for Indigenous peoples is vital for empowering Indigenous entrepreneurs to succeed and create sustainable businesses. Today, Startup Canada is proud to announce two new partnerships with the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) and Okwaho Equal Source aimed at supporting, and amplifying Indigenous-led programming in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.    

NACCA Partnership

NACCA and Startup Canada’s new partnership has the primary objective of seeing both parties work together to support Indigenous entrepreneurs who are looking to start or grow a business. As part of this memorandum, Startup Canada will welcome NACCA as a key voice in a number of their flagship programs, including Startup Women and Startup Gov as government roundtable guests, webinar speakers, mentors, and more. 

Through this partnership, the services each organization provides for Indigenous entrepreneurs will be in alignment, ensuring the best experience for Indigenous entrepreneurs looking for support.

“In our work, we continue to see opportunities for collaboration and sharing of resources with other leading organizations serving entrepreneurs in Canada,” said Shannin Metatawabin, CEO of NACCA.  “Our network of Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs) are leaders when it comes to supporting Indigenous business across the country. To date, our network has provided financing totaling almost $3B to approximately 50,000 businesses. AFIs also work closely with Indigenous entrepreneurs providing wrap-around supports while they start or grow their businesses. By partnering with Startup Canada, we will be able to expand our services to Indigenous businesses, connecting them in a new way to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Canada.”  

“We are incredibly proud to formalize this partnership with NACCA,” said Kayla Isabelle, CEO of Startup Canada. “Together through close consultation and multi-program integration, we will be able to align our support for Indigenous entrepreneurs – amplifying the impact and reach of each organization in the process.” 

Okwaho Equal Source Business Ecosystem Project

Okwaho Equal Source, based in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, is an Indigenous owned and woman-led social enterprise with a mission to fuel social impact through human-centred design, innovation and Indigenous-led research. Okwaho Equal Source has recently partnered with Startup Canada to launch an Indigenous Entrepreneurship and Business Ecosystem Project. Led by the Okwaho team, this 6-month community-based research and development initiative is aimed at introducing entrepreneurship support and business development elements of the Startup Canada Community model to Indigenous communities. The goal is to launch the very first ‘Indigenous Startup Community’ in Canada this year. The community will work together with Okwaho Equal Source and Startup Canada to co-define, co-design, and co-develop an Indigenous-appropriate, and Indigenous-led community ecosystem prototype. This partnership is being proudly supported through the Startup Canada Community Empowerment Fund, with partners UPS, Mastercard Canada, and Sovereign Insurance.

Okwaho Equal Source President and Chief Executive Officer, Shyra Barberstock, explains “Our partnership with Startup Canada is an important step on a shared path to explore, empower and grow Indigenous inclusive business ecosystems within Indigenous communities across Canada.”

“Now, more than ever, we need to recognize the inherent entrepreneurial mindset of Indigenous peoples and their communities, and work towards establishing a larger, more tailored network of support,” said Kayla Isabelle, CEO of Startup Canada. “We could not be more excited to partner with Okwaho Equal Source on this project that aims to empower Indigenous communities in crafting their own applicable ecosystem models.” 

As we move forward in our mission to support and amplify Indigenous-led programming for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis entrepreneurs, Startup Canada is incredibly proud to welcome both NACCA and Okwaho Equal Source to our network. Their voices will be invaluable in our collective efforts.


For more information, and to schedule interviews, please contact:

Lauren Hicks

Media Relations, Startup Canada

(905) 531-1670


About Startup Canada

Startup Canada is Canada’s entrepreneurship organization. Startup Canada promotes and supports the success and growth of Canada’s 3.5 million entrepreneurs, with a mandate to foster economic growth, competitiveness, and prosperity through entrepreneurship. Since launching, Startup Canada’s programming has directly supported more than 200,000 entrepreneurs and 50 grassroots Startup Community organizations. Working with over 750 ecosystem partners, including accelerators, incubators, research parks, educational institutions, economic development agencies, associations, and government programs, Startup Canada serves entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, industries, and stages of development, with a network reflective of Canada’s diverse population. Learn more at


The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association was established as the member organization for a network of over 50 Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs) dedicated to stimulating economic growth for all Indigenous people in Canada. NACCA’s mission is to serve as the voice of Aboriginal Financial Institutions and as a national advocate for Aboriginal business development. NACCA’s vision is to promote thriving, prosperous, Aboriginal businesses with equitable access to capital and care.

About Okwaho Equal Source

Okwaho Equal Source was established in 2015 and is a highly sought-after leader and change agent in Indigenous-inspired social finance, social enterprise, social innovation, and social procurement in Canada. Okwaho Equal Source is a trusted Indigenous, design thinking, and research think tank and is regularly contracted by the Government of Canada to conduct research studies and regional and national Indigenous projects. Okwaho Equal Source is proudly 100% Indigenous-owned and woman-led and is headquartered in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ontario.