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IWE Program

Indigenous Women Entrepreneur (IWE) Program

The Indigenous Women Entrepreneur (IWE) Program is designed and focused to assist the increasing number of First Nation Women with the desire to engage in entrepreneurship and business development in Saskatchewan.  The program will provide support to overcome the unique barriers they face as First Nation Women by providing tools, resources and supports to access financing, build their 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-up or expand an existing small or home business.  Loan and contribution are issued together for an amount totalling no more than $20,000, in addition the client should have a minimum 5% cash equity or in-kind contributions.

Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements to apply for a micro-loan.  This would include evidence of Saskatchewan residency and registered Status Indian.  The applicant must have effective control:

  • 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.

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

Eligible costs include all costs necessary to carry out the project that are deemed reasonable. Quotes for all costs are required. Inventory and working capital are eligible but must be supported by a cashflow statement. Generally, no more than 3 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.


Eligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • cost of external labor 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.
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 further information regarding the eligibility requirements and program criteria, please contact the SIEF IWE Business Support Officer.