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Who is TWCC?

When it comes to transparent companies, one does not need to look any further than the Tribal Wi-Chi-Way-Win Capital Corporation (TWCC).

Since its founding in 1993, TWCC, which is an ISO certified company, has grown from just three employees to more than 180 across several lines of business today.

"We're owned by five tribal councils and six independent First Nations in Manitoba," said Brenda Zurba, Director of Marketing & Sales for TWCC during an interview with First Nations Voice.

"We provide financial resources to First Nations people in this province to help them create self-reliant, independent businesses."

While there are other Aboriginal Capital Corporations currently operating in Canada, TWCC is mandated to provide developmental lending services exclusively to members within Manitoba.

In its role as a resource to Aboriginal enterprise, TWCC is committed to achieving a number of key objectives, according to its mandate.

These include: 1. To provide assistance for the establishment, expansion, or diversification of self- sustaining Aboriginal businesses in Manitoba. 2. To improve the access to capital for Aboriginal businesses that have traditionally had difficulty in obtaining conventional commercial financing. This will also help to reduce the dependency on government assistance. 3. To promote the orderly growth and development of the network of commercial loan corporations owned and controlled by Aboriginal people.

For Aboriginal entrepreneurs and business, TWCC represents a valuable and necessary resource, said Zurba.

"By working together to support new initiatives, and by encouraging Aboriginal enterprise, TWCC and Manitoba's participating First Nations can both help to create a more independent, self-determined tomorrow," she added.

She also mentioned that TWCC was the 2012 winner in the Most Outstanding Medium Business category at the Manitoba Business Awards. The award was presented to the Aboriginal Financial Institution by the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce and BDC, the award sponsor, at the Fairmont Winnipeg on Oct. 18 at their annual awards gala hosted by Manitoba Lieutenant Governor Phillip S. Lee "To receive such a prestigious award from the Manitoba business community is very gratifying after so many years of growing and developing our institution to not only serve Aboriginal people but to contribute to all Manitobans," said Chief Morris Swan- Shannacappo, Chair of the TWCC board during the presentation.

"We have always believed determination, innovation and just plain hard work would make TWCC a leading player in the development of an Aboriginal economy in Manitoba," said Chief Executive Officer Alan Park in an earlier interview. "Nothing has deterred us from that belief."

The award even drew praise from Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo.

"This much deserved award for the outstanding work done by the TWCC serves as an excellent example of support for First Nations driving their own business and entrepreneurial opportunities," he said.

"The work of TWCC helps build and support momentum we are seeing across the country at a time when First Nations driving their own economies has never been more important, particularly in connection to resource and energy developments."

In 2010 and 2011 TWCC was named as one of Manitoba?s Fastest Growing Companies by Manitoba Business Magazine.

MECCA, (Manitoba Excellence in Contact Centre Achievement) has also recognized TWCC?s Call Centre in several categories since 2002.

Innovations at TWCC have included a National employee benefit loan program to help keep Canadian Aboriginal people out of payday loan traps, as well as ongoing support for Aboriginal entrepreneurs, emphasized Zurba.

"We're also a founding partner in TIPI, a consortium of Aboriginal organizations that provide institutional-style pension and benefits as well as property and casualty insurance, while challenging the status quo and in turn creating more value for their customers," she said.

"Part of what we do is about self-sufficiency and reliance. If we're going to "talk the talk," then we have to "walk the walk." We're not funded by the taxpayer. We don?t receive any government money on any of our operations."

At the end of the day, everyone knows that business is a critical pillar of job creation, and that is what TWCC is accomplishing.

"We're also transparent and accountable to our shareholders and board of directors," Zurba stressed.

"We have an AGM every year, and our audited annual report is available at our front reception for anyone to come by and pick up."

She also noted that TWCC has been in a position very recently to give back about $250,000 to its Tribal Councils.

"The more our people unite and support us, the more our business ventures grow," said Zurba.

"The more we grow the more value we are able to give back to our communities. It?s that simple."

TWCC has provided more than $55 million in business and short-term personal loans since its inception.

"We have financed all kinds of businesses from a long haul trucking company to an airplane purchase to help a client expand his business into remote northern communities," said Zurba.

"Our plans for the future are to continue expanding in an orderly, manageable and transparent fashion."

In July 2012, Alan Park announced that TWCC is looking to start a chartered bank ?to better serve the growing financial needs of Canada?s Indigenous economy.?

Park's statement was made as the TWCC board of directors, elders and leaders met at its Winnipeg executive offices with indigenous investors from the United States, New Zealand and Canada to sign a memorandum of understanding to pursue a range of Indigenous economic empowerment projects, including the bank affiliate.

"The chartered bank would operate on a stand-alone basis from TWCC," said Park.

"There is a compelling need for a bank with strong indigenous roots to serve the growing financial needs within Manitoba's communities and elsewhere in Canada."

Observed Zurba: "Oceans may separate us, but Indigenous people worldwide can work together to make all our lives better. We want to continue to help First Nations and all Aboriginal people achieve self sufficiency."

That is the way forward.

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