“The social change comes when a person gets access to that capital. They get a job, increase their income, start eating better, get pride of ownership — it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Calgary-based First Nations entrepreneur Nicole Robertson also got her start with IBC. After working as a reporter across Canada, she started an award-winning media production company 15 years ago.
She said if it wasn’t for IBC, she wouldn’t have gone very far because she didn’t have a lot of assets when she started out.
“If I didn’t have them as a backup, what would I do? I wouldn’t have been able to do it any other way, when I looked at what a bank traditionally looks at,” said Robertson.
“But I built the relationship with IBC, I paid my loans always on time. They treat you like a human being, rather than just a number or policy.”
Being a successful woman in business is empowering, she said, especially considering the historical trauma that has held a lot of Indigenous women back.
Both Robertson and Solway hope to see more Indigenous women take the leap of faith to help change the landscape of business.
“We’re smart, with valuable abilities,” said Solway.
“So our ladies can flourish, can be out there, be proactive and not give up. We see too much of them giving up on their pride. We’ve gone through enough, but we need to move on now. We need to do something with ourselves.”