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IWE Program

The Indigenous Women Entrepreneur (IWE) Program assists First Nation women wanting to start or grow your own business in Saskatchewan.

Access to capital remains a significant barrier for many Indigenous women entrepreneurs. The IWE program provides tools, resources and supports to help you access financing, build your credit, and obtaining leverage from other financial supports.


The SIEF IWE Micro-loan Program is defined as loans up to $20,000 to assist First Nation Women entrepreneurs to start or expand an existing small or home business.

Eligible applicants

Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements to apply for a micro-loan. This would include evidence of Saskatchewan residency and being a registered Status Indian.

The applicant must have effective control, which means:

  • long-term control and management of the business and are actively engaged in the operation, management and ownership of the business;
  • an active role in strategic decision making and being involved in elements related to the establishment of priorities and overall operations of the business;
  • an integral involvement in the business’s ongoing operations including the day-to-day decision making, financial management, human resources, supply management, and/or customer services;
  • a majority (51%) equity stake in the ownership of the business.

A loan and contribution are issued together for an amount totalling no more than $20,000. The client should also have a minimum five per cent in cash equity or in-kind contributions.

Husband and wife partnerships are considered a 50% – 50% ownership. Therefore, in these guidelines, they are not considered eligible.

Eligible Costs

Inventory and working capital are eligible costs but must be supported by a cashflow statement.

Eligible costs include all costs necessary to carry out the project that are deemed reasonable. Quotes for all costs are required.

Eligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • cost of external labour to complete project;
  • capital costs: purchase of machinery, equipment, leasehold improvements and renovations;
  • operating and working capital costs: inventory, pre-paid start-up costs, insurance, etc.;
  • marketing and promotional material costs; and
  • other costs necessary to support the purpose of the funding.

Advisory expenses are also eligible and could include:

  • fees for business advisory services;
  • coaching, mentoring or networking events, workshops or conference fees;
  • legal/accounting/technical supports; and
  • fees associated with participation in business training.

Generally, no more than three months inventory and/or working capital will be financed at one time however this can be exceeded depending on circumstances.

Project costs must not have already been incurred without prior approval.

Husband and wife partnerships are considered a 50% – 50% ownership. Therefore, in these guidelines, they are not considered eligible.

Ineligible Projects

Ineligible costs include. but are not limited to:

  • renovations to personal living space unless these can be shown as necessary for the business;
  • passive real estate transactions (land acquisitions) that do not create employment;
  • vehicle purchases which will be primarily utilized for personal use;
  • refinancing of existing debt;
  • general ongoing operating costs that should be financed through operations;
  • non-arm’s length transactions;
  • the purchase of goods or services where a commitment has been made prior to approval of loan;
  • the purchase of any assets for more than the fair market value; and
  • the costs of amortization and goodwill.

For information regarding the eligibility requirements and program criteria, please contact SIEF’s IWE Business Support Officer.