For many organizations, doing business with Aboriginal companies still represents an unknown experience but a quick review of the latest statistics should encourage most to consider this supply chain as a valuable and viable resource. Canada‘s Aboriginal population is growing rapidly. According to Statistics Canada, by 2017, the Aboriginal population will reach nearly 1.5 million people; roughly 4.1 per cent of Canada‘s population. This represents a significant increase from 2006, when the Aboriginal population stood at 1,172,790, or 3.8 per cent of Canada‘s population. Canada‘s Aboriginal population is also much younger than the rest of Canada. In 2006, the median age was 22 years, compared with 40 years, for non-Aboriginal people. This growth is nothing short of an Aboriginal baby boom and one that can help fill the void of retiring non-Aboriginal baby boomers.

According to the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) and Environics Research Aboriginal self-employment is also on the rise. According to the 2006 Census, there are more than 37,000 First Nation, Métis and Inuit persons in Canada who have their own businesses, a significant increase of 85 percent since 1996. Successful Aboriginal businesses create employment, economic prosperity, and social well being in communities across Canada.

In addition to Aboriginal small business development much of the growth for Aboriginal small business can be attributed to the increased longevity and entrenchment of Aboriginal Economic Development Corporations.

According to the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, most (72%) of the Economic Development Corporations have been around for 10 years or longer; the average length of operation is 18 years. The majority (68 %) are small businesses (i.e., based on the Industry Canada definition of less than 100 employees).Close to half (46 %) had total sales revenues of $ 5 million or more for the previous fiscal year.

Aboriginal business continues to grow ever larger, playing a vital role in Canada‘s economic engine. Statistics show that between 1989 and 1996, Aboriginal business investments totaled $338.7 million, with the fastest-growing areas reflected in computer services, information technology, engineering and accounting.

Aboriginal businesses are very interested in forming relationships with mainstream businesses. Procurement can be a way for Aboriginal businesses to grow and prosper. Mainstream companies have many procurement needs. To what extent have companies developed supplier diversity strategies? How many mainstream companies see the potential to work with these Aboriginal businesses in a supplier capacity?

As Aboriginal businesses continue to grow in Canada they may consider procurement opportunities as a vehicle to further growth and expansion. What can the mainstream businesses in the electricity and renewables sector do to increase their relationship with the growing Aboriginal business community? How do they forge those partnerships? What strategies and tools do they need to encourage this process?

SaskPower on Aboriginal Recruitment:

SaskPower on working with Aboriginal businesses:

Manitoba Hydro on Aboriginal Procurement:

BC Hydro on Working with Aboriginals:

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