BC Indigenous Cannabis Business Fund

The Indigenous Cannabis Business Fund (ICBF) provides non-repayable funding contributions to First Nation Communities and Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs in British Columbia that want to participate in and receive supports to advance economic development opportunities in the federally (production, distribution, and retail) and provincially (non-medical retail sales) regulated cannabis sector.

EOI form Cannabis Navigator ICBF Brochure (PDF)

The intention of ICBF is to address gaps in capacity and funding to support diversity and equity in the legal cannabis space that is inclusive of Indigenous communities and businesses.

Eligible applicants will have access to two (2) funding streams to support progress through community planning and engagement and business planning, design and implementation related to their cannabis project.

The ICBF initiative was developed in partnership with the BC Assembly of First Nations, the network of B.C. Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFI’s), Health Canada and Indigenous Services Canada Strategic Partnership Initiatives, and the Province of B.C. through the B.C. Cannabis Secretariat.

Funding opportunities under the ICBF will be administered and co-delivered by the New Relationship Trust and participating AFI’s in B.C.

To read the news release announcing this funding initiative, please click here.

Initiative Goals

The primary goals of the ICBF initiative include:

  • Support Indigenous business development in the regulated cannabis sector.
  • Indigenous employment creation, skills development and training.
  • Economic diversification and equity in the cannabis space including opportunities for and in rural and remote communities and indigenous women entrepreneurs etc.
  • Development, public awareness, supply chain participation, and procurement opportunities for indigenous brands and products.
  • Support Indigenous businesses, entrepreneurs, and communities – navigate, prepare for, adapt, and implement cannabis opportunities in the post-legalization environment.
  • Balance community health, knowledge, and safety needs with economic growth opportunities.
  • Support Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses in navigating the current regulatory processes.

Who Can Apply

  • B.C. First Nation governments, businesses and economic development corporations;
  • B.C. Tribal Councils;
  • B.C. Indigenous Corporations, partnerships, associations, co-operatives and institutions; and
  • B.C. Indigenous (First Nation, Métis, Inuit) entrepreneurs and businesses.

Applicant Criteria

  • First Nations businesses and Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses must have a minimum of 51% indigenous ownership of the underlying business.
  • Indigenous ownership and control must at minimum be in proportion to the amount of equity invested in business.
  • Grants are not a stand-alone source of funds as applicants must be willing and able to pay and share in the costs of the project.
  • On-Reserve projects must provide reasonable evidence of community engagement.
  • On-Reserve projects must provide evidence of First Nation government support, expressed through a Band Council Resolution or equivalent.
  • On-Reserve projects – If applicable, status of an unregulated business transition to the regulated market (unregulated businesses must cease operations prior to disbursement of ICBF Grant).
  • On-Reserve Projects – where a business will seek both federal (production) and provincial (retail) licences, whether the First Nation has entered into, or plans to enter into, a section 119 government to government agreement with the Province enabling participation in both production and retail simultaneously.
  • One ICBF Grant per Project, but multiple Indigenous owners can be included under one grant.
  • Financing requirements. ICBF Grants for certain project types (eg. acquisitions, capital costs, infrastructure etc) must be applied for in conjunction with reasonable assurance of commercial loan financing, alternative financing or an equivalent amount of cash equity being in place to access the non-repayable grant.
    • Applicant(s) generally must have financial capacity to provide between 25% to 60% of the project costs, through cash equity and or loan financing, depending on the project type and subject to the ongoing program criteria that may be amended from time to time.

Eligible Projects

Eligible projects for the business planning, design, licensing, training, and capital costs include:

  • Establishment of new businesses within the regulated cannabis industry.
  • Expansion of existing regulated cannabis businesses.
  • Transition of existing unregulated cannabis businesses into the regulated industry.
  • Eligible business types include:
    • Cultivation
    • Processing
    • Distribution
    • Ancillary services

Funding Caps

The maximum cumulative contribution for an ICBF Grant is $250,000 per project.

Funding caps for specific activities under ICBF include:

  • Up to 75% of eligible costs for business planning costs.
  • Up to 75% for business advisory services and staff training.
  • Up to 40% of eligible costs for business capitalization (business start-up, business expansion etc).

Project Funding Streams

Stream 1: Community Planning and Engagement


Information and Planning workshops: to learn about the cannabis industry, the laws and regulations, and to hear stories of successful indigenous businesses/entrepreneurs that transitioned into the regulatory market or expanded an existing regulated business..

Community engagement in First Nation communities to support forums for learning, dealing with information gaps, sharing the benefits, and latest evidence, and regulatory info. and health resources about cannabis. (Recipients can request participation/ support from the Province of BC, health Canada and other cannabis experts to support the community engagement)

Funding Cap

On-Reserve Only $12,000

Stream 2: Business Planning, Design, and Capital


Business Planning Support & Advisory

  • Business start-up planning.
  • Feasibility studies, Business plan including business establishment or expansion of business.
  • Business advisory services to support transition to regulatory market.

Business Design and Licensing / Permitting

  • Government licensing, permitting, business design and other related costs where a viable business opportunity has been identified.

Capital Contribution

  • Funding to support the capitalization of a business start-up, expansion, acquisition etc, including for retail, production, cultivation, and ancillary services.
  • Eligible costs may include construction, retrofits, equipment purchase and other related costs.
  • Business advisory costs
  • Skills and training costs directly related to the business launch.

Funding Cap


Intake Frequencies

Applications will be accepted on a continuous basis until December 1st, 2025 or when funding available has been exhausted.

How to Apply

Step 1: Expression of Interest (EOI) Form

We appreciate your interest in applying for an ICBF contribution from the New Relationship Trust. To better understand your business opportunity, capacity needs, and funding requirements please complete the expression of interest form below.

After you submit the form, we’ll contact you in approximately 5 to 7 business days to discuss the process and next steps.

Step 2: Applicant and Project Screening

Once the EOI submission has been evaluated and the follow-up process has taken place, you will be referred to an Aboriginal Financial Institution (AFI) in B.C. Once that connection is made, the AFI will conduct standard screening and due diligence procedures to assess project viability and approval of appropriate Grant and amount.

Application Approval Decisions

The community engagement stream (1) funding will incorporate a basic criteria-based process for selecting approved recipients.

The Business Planning, Design, and Capital stream (2) funding will incorporate best practice business assessment policies and procedures as carried out by one of the AFIs.

A multi-stakeholder Steering Committee will provide overall ICBF guidance and direction to support the approval and funding allocation decisions.

Successful applicants can anticipate the approval communication from New Relationship Trust or the AFI assigned to you.

List of Aboriginal Financial Institutions

The list below identifies the Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs) in British Columbia. Please note, not all AFIs are participating in the ICBF Initiative.

B.C. Aboriginal Financial InstitutionsAFI Centre
Aboriginal Business and Community Development CentrePrince George
All Nations Trust Company (ANTCO)Kamloops
Burns Lake Native Development Corporation (BLNDC)Burns Lake
CFDC of Central Interior First NationsKamloops
Haida Gwaii Community FuturesMassett
Métis Financial Corporation of BC (MFCBC)Surrey
Native Fishing Association (NFA)West Vancouver
Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation (NEDC)Port Alberni
Stó:lō Community Futures Corporation (SCF)Chilliwack
Tale’Awtxw Aboriginal Capital Corporation (TACC)West Vancouver
Tribal Resources Investment Corporation (TRICORP)Prince Rupert

Useful Links

The links below provide information about cannabis, process of legalization, health effects, addiction, medical use, applying for industry licenses, consumer information, market data, and other research and resources.

General Enquiries

The ICBF staff encourage potential applicants to reach out if you have questions, require assistance, or wish to discuss your application prior to submitting it. Please contact us at the email address below and our ICBF staff will respond within 5 business days:

By Email: cb@nrtf.ca

Cannabis Navigator Service

Indigenous affiliated applicants can contact NRT’s Cannabis Navigator service at: cannabisnavigator@nrtf.ca

The Cannabis Navigator has Cannabis business experience and can provide guidance on the cannabis opportunity and support the transition of that business opportunity to a completed application and potential funding opportunity.

The Cannabis Navigator can support you with the following:

  • Refer Indigenous applicants to appropriate resources to complete requirements for licensing and to support their Cannabis opportunity.
  • Laise on behalf of the applicant(s) with NRT staff and Indigenous Financial Institutions on eligibility and program matters.
  • Provide feedback and guidance to applicants on their Cannabis business opportunity and its potential fundability with the ICBF Program.
  • Provide support, guidance, and information to extent possible on various issues and matters as it relates to the applicant requests and questions related to a new, existing or potential Cannabis Business opportunity.