NADF introduces new executive director, goals
Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund’s new executive director is looking to develop an entrepreneurial culture, assist capacity development and create an equity fund.
“We are in overdrive and ramped up to help Aboriginal entrepreneurs and community-based businesses move ahead,” said Brian Davey, who was introduced as NADF’s new executive director on Jan. 31. “I have three main goals to push the organization forward and into the future.
They focus on developing the entrepreneurial culture in our communities and with our youth, assisting in capacity development and creating an equity fund for entrepreneurs and community-based organizations.”
Davey is looking to seek out and support people who are willing to take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities as economic development activities are initiated in the region.
“Why we exist is to create benefits and prosperity in our communities and we’ll do whatever is necessary to make that happen,” Davey said.
Davey said NADF will continue to bring in capacity development initiatives for community members, such as the Strategic Mineral Exploration and Mining Training Course, scheduled for April 8-12, and the 3rd Annual Mining Ready Summit, scheduled for Oct. 16-17.
“We bring in very knowledgeable speakers on mining,” Davey said about the Mining Ready Summit. “It talks about the mining cycles and the various opportunities related to the different phases of the mining cycle.”
Davey said the equity fund will help people who have “great ideas” but don’t have the equity to develop their ideas into businesses.
“For example, if they need 30 per cent equity, that means cash to leverage 70 per cent debt financing,” Davey said. “And (if) they can only come up with 15 per cent of equity, what we do is — with a good plan, a good business idea — we put in the other 15 (per cent) for them.
Of course, we expect some return on that ourselves, but at least it enables them to leverage the debt financing and get their business idea off the ground.”
Davey said Canada’s Aboriginal community is creating businesses at a faster rate than the general population, adding that NADF has provided about $30 million in loans over the past 22 years, which helped create more than 2,000 jobs and maintain about 545 businesses.
“Our job is to continue to do that kind of investing in our communities,” Davey said.
“Creating wealth and prosperity in our communities is what we’re all about and we’ll continue to do that.”
Davey is looking to increase NADF’s $13 million asset base to a higher level over the next five-to-six years.
“We’ve been around for a number of years and my job is to take it to the next level,” Davey said. “I’d like to bring it up to $60 million within five, six years.”
Davey said most of NADF’s work is involved with the business opportunity side.
“We also try to web the overall economy with First Nations development,” Davey said. “What I mean by that is we strengthen the web or the interdependence between established companies and First Nation companies or First Nation entrepreneurs, because in some cases we don’t have the management or the capacity or the equity, so there has to be a greater partnerships between the various businesses within northwestern Ontario or northern Ontario.”
Davey previously worked with Matawa First Nations as manager of economic development and operated his own investment banking business: First Nations Equity. He also served as a Nishnawbe Aski Nation deputy grand chief for two terms.
“We are pleased to have someone lead our organization of such high calibre,” said Arlene Meekis, NADF’s board chair. “Brian brings many talents to our team, having spent the last 30 years working on First Nation issues in both the private and public sector as an independent business person and in senior management positions.”
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