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It is widely accepted that economic development is crucial to improving the well-being of Aboriginal peoples and closing the gap with the non-Aboriginal population across Canada.
The role of strong business relationships in helping Aboriginal entrepreneurs achieve success is a common theme throughout the body of research conducted by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) over the past several years.Relationships and/or partnerships are a key growth strategy, providing access to bigger and better business opportunities, much needed capital or other diverse needs, such as skills training and experience, mentoring and advice, equipment, physical location or a skilled workforce.
What is not as well-known is how Aboriginal business relationships develop, how they are structured, what stages they go through and what obstacles they face. Relationships and Reciprocity is a pilot project led by the CCAB to help address this gap. Using qualitative research (a mix of focus groups and in-depth individual interviews), CCAB has set out to explore what positive Aboriginal business relationships look like and what organizations – including Aboriginal and mainstream businesses, and governments – can do to assist in their development.
This report begins with a summary of the existing academic and non-academic research on Aboriginal business relationships as context for the primary qualitative research described later in the report.