2023 Transforming Indigenous Procurement Survey - Cando

Procurement Survey Cover 2023

Executive Summary
This survey aims to understand the experiences of Indigenous businesses and communities in the realm of public procurement in Canada. The report provides insights into the demographics, economic activities, public procurement experiences, successes, and challenges faced by Indigenous businesses.


Our respondents (N=163) were predominantly from First Nations (75%) and Metis (14%) communities.
More than half of the respondents were male (58.9%), with a fairly even distribution across three age groups (under 45, 45-54, and over 55). Many respondents lived in communities with fewer than 5,000 people, with 58.28% residing in rural communities.

Economic Activity

Indigenous communities exhibit a proactive approach to economic development, with 87.65% of respondents having at least one person responsible for this function. Community-based supports for economic development, such as community economic development organizations, were accessible to 60.74% of respondents. However, respondents reported gaps in access to financial, training, technology, and insurance supports essential for business growth. Indigenous businesses operate across various sectors, including construction, transportation, utilities, retail, and professional services, with notable participation in the green energy sector. Despite the diverse economic activity, the adoption of certifications, which is known to be critical for showcasing business capabilities in competitive markets, was relatively low among respondents.

Public Procurement Experiences

Our respondents had a wide range of experiences with public procurement. Of the total bids submitted, only 39% were successful. Factors associated with winning contracts included being an Indigenous-owned business, offering high-quality products or services, competitive pricing, territorial and traditional knowledge, risk awareness, and cultural training. These results suggest that Indigenous businesses benefit from their unique knowledge and understanding of their land, environment, and culture.


Despite the opportunities offered by the federal government's policy of allocating at least 5% of the total value of contracts to Indigenous businesses, several challenges hinder participation in public procurement.
Respondents cited lack of resources, government assistance, technical skills, and mentorship as significant barriers to accessing procurement contracts. Constraints associated with Request for Proposal specifications, such as lack of insurance or experience, and excessively large contract sizes, were also identified.

Key Takeaways
The federal government's policy presents unique opportunities for Indigenous businesses. However, our survey reveals a mismatch between current capacities and procurement requirements. There is a need for targeted government policies and initiatives to better align Indigenous businesses with Government procurement activities. Examples include initiatives focused on making procurement more accessible to Indigenous businesses and providing clear and easily accessible Indigenous procurement policy guidelines for procurement officers. Further, fostering knowledge exchange and providing timely information on procurement opportunities are crucial for developing effective procurement readiness and scaling strategies.

To fully harness Indigenous businesses’ potential in public procurement, collective efforts to address the
identified challenges are essential. Such efforts can create an environment that fosters the growth and success of Indigenous businesses, while ensuring the benefits of public procurement are equitably distributed across Indigenous communities.

Download the survey in PDF format