Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik May 27, 2014 - 3:00 pm

Nunavik Investment Corp. scaled down, but still operating

"We’re open for business and we continue to receive applications"

SARAH ROGERS

The Nunavik Investment Corp. continues to operate and provide loans to Nunavimmiut businesses, Kativik Regional Government regional councillors heard May 26 at their meeting in Ivujivik.

But Adel Yassa, a KRG representative and the NIC’s corporate secretary, told councillors that the NIC has recently scaled back operations to be more effective with its small budget.

“What’s happened is that we’ve downscaled the operation to make sure it’s more manageable,” said Yassa. “But we’re open for business and we continue to receive applications.”

The corporation has recently moved into the office of the Nayumivik Landholding Corp. in Kuujjuaq, where now a single staff member processes applications, Yassa said.

The investment corporation’s future was unclear after it failed a 2011 audit, launched as the NIC sought new capital.

Forensic auditors claimed that some of the loans made by the organization went to relatives of its board, although the corporation’s chair at the time, Johnny Oovaut, told KRG councillors that wasn’t true.

Yassa maintains that particular claim made by the auditors was “totally false.”

The board contends that a board member at the time abstained from a vote that would have approved his brother’s loan application.

Nonetheless, the federal department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development cut back the corporation’s operating budget in 2012 to $150,000. Yassa said the NIC is currently negotiating with the federal government to increase that money.

Still, the NIC handed out roughly $400,000 in loans in 2013, Yassa estimated.

The NIC is a relatively small investment body, compared to the larger Makigiarutiit Fund managed by the KRG with provincial funding.

Makigiarutiit would have approved about $3 million in loans for Nunavik businesses last year.

The difference between the two is that the NIC finances working capital and offers lines of credit to businesses, while the Makigiarutiit does not.

“The two complement each other,” Yassa said. “Most people go to the KRG fund because of its competitive rates.”

The maximum loans available under the NIC run from $150,000 to $250,000 for community-owned business ventures — compared to the maximum of $500,000 available through Makigiarutiit.

The Nunavik Investment Corp. was the only lending institution that served Nunavimmiut businesses — Inuit and non-Inuit — from the time it launched in 1987 until 1995, when Makigiarutiit was created.

Before then, businesses had to go directly to the AANDC to apply for loans.

The corporation is overseen by a seven-member board of directors, including representation from both Makivik Corp. and the KRG. The board’s chairperson position is currently vacant.

You can request a funding application through the NIC by calling its Kuujjuaq office at (819) 964-1872.

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