Aboriginal Entrepreneurs Survey (AES)

Detailed information for 2002




One Time

Record number:


The objective of the Aboriginal Entrepreneurs Survey (AES) was to provide updated information on self-employed Aboriginal people and their businesses.

Data release - September 27, 2004


The objective of the Aboriginal Entrepreneurs Survey (AES) was to provide updated information on Aboriginal business owners and their businesses. The survey collected information on a variety of topics such as: business objectives and growth expectations, barriers to expansion, training, employee characteristics, business financing, sources of assistance, markets and clients.

The AES, which was sponsored by Industry Canada, was carried out in the fall of 2003.

Results of this survey will assist the survey sponsor in creating policies which support Aboriginal business development. Results may also be used by suppliers of Aboriginal business financing to identify gaps in their services. At a general level, this information may be used by government and non-government organizations interested in obtaining a better understanding of the current state of Aboriginal entrepreneurs and their businesses.

Reference period: 2002


  • Business and finance
  • Indigenous peoples (formerly Aboriginal peoples)
  • Labour
  • Work, income and spending

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population comprises individuals who, according to the 2001 Census, were aged 15 and over, living in private dwellings in Canada, who were self-employed Aboriginal People. Census Questions 18, 20 and 21 were used for the purposes of identifying Aboriginal people. Specifically, respondents, by way of these questions, had the opportunity to (a) identify with one or more Aboriginal group (North American Indian, Métis, Inuit), (b) acknowledge membership in an Indian Band or First Nation, and (c) acknowledge status as a Treaty Indian or Registered Indian as defined by the Indian Act of Canada. Census Question 44 was used to identify self-employed individuals.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was developed by Small Business and Special Surveys Division with input from the survey sponsor (Industry Canada) as well as the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board. A number of survey items were borrowed from a previous survey which was conducted in 1996 -- the Aboriginal Business Survey. The results of the 1996 survey were also the basis for a number of modifications which were made to the 2002 questionnaire.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

The 2001 2B and 2D Census population databases were used as a frame for the AES. The 2B database contains a representative sample of one in five Canadian households. The 2D database contains information on all households in northern areas and most Indian reserves, Indian settlements, Indian government districts and terres reservés. The 2B and 2D databases are essentially the same in content. The methodology for this survey involved drawing from these two databases all households in which at least one individual was identified as both self-employed and an Aboriginal person. While this did not guarantee that household composition had not changed in the intervening period, it provided a list of households with a high probability of containing a member of the target population.

The initial stratification was done by client-defined region, industry, location (on/off reserve) and Aboriginal group. A sample of 8,541 households was randomly selected from the 2B and 2D databases, based on the stratification plan.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2003-09-11 to 2003-10-22

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data were collected using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews. An adult member of each sampled household was asked several screening questions to determine whether or not there were any self-employed members of the household who were also Aboriginal people. Telephone interviews were then arranged for all household members who were in-scope for the survey. In a small number of cases where phone numbers were not available, paper questionnaires were mailed to the sampled households.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .


The imputation method used for this survey is called Nearest Neighbour. This method involves locating a donor and recipient sharing similar characteristics. Data values for missing or incomplete variables in the recipient record are imputed from the donor.


Estimates were produced using the Generalized Estimation System (GES). Initial sample weights were adjusted to account for the use of the 2B Census database which contains a sample of one-fifth of all households. An adjustment was also made to account for refusals and other non-response. Estimates were then produced for the domains of interest based on the stratification variables : Aboriginal group, industry, region and location (on/off reserve).

Quality evaluation

For the purposes of evaluation, data from the 2002 AES were compared to the previously-conducted Aboriginal Business Survey (1996). In addition, comparisons were made, where applicable, to data from the 2001 Census of Population.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

To protect the confidentiality of respondents, all statistics are subject to rigorous confidentiality analysis before publication. Where it is found that the publication would involve the release of data that could be attributed to an identifiable respondent, those statistics are suppressed. Confidentiality analysis includes the detection of possible "direct disclosure", which occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of a few respondents or when the cell is dominated by a few businesses. It also includes the detection and prevention of "residual disclosure", which would occur when the value of an otherwise suppressed cell could be inferred from cells remaining in the table or from overlaying one set of tables on another.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

Since all of the AES estimates are based on sample results, they are subject to sampling error. The Coefficient of Variation (CV) and the Standard Error (SE) are guides to the potential size of the sampling error associated with a given estimate. The quality of the estimate increases as its CV or SE decreases. For percentage estimates, the SE is the indicator of margin of error while, for values expressed in dollars, the CV is the indicator of the sampling error. CVs of 30% or less are unqualified, and similarly SEs of 15% or less are unqualified. Estimates which have higher CVs or SEs have been suppressed because the sampling variability is too high for the estimate to be considered reliable.

Survey estimates may also contain non-sampling error. Non-sampling errors are not related to sampling and may occur for many reasons. Population coverage errors, differences in the interpretation of questions, incorrect information from respondents, and mistakes in recording, coding and processing data are examples of non-sampling errors. Non-response is an important source of non-sampling error. While the impact of non-sampling errors is difficult to evaluate, measures such as response rates and imputation rates can be used as indicators of the potential level of non-sampling error.

Unable to Locate:
For a large number of households in the sample, the phone numbers were either missing, not correct or out of service. This may in part have been attributable to people moving or household composition changing in the period between the 2001 Census and the fall of 2003 when the AES was conducted. In addition, many households were in remote locations with no phone service. Finally, mobility among Aboriginal people is somewhat higher than that of the non-Aboriginal population in Canada. Overall, it was not possible to locate 22% of households in the sample.

Out of Scope:
A large number of the households sampled for the AES were deemed "out of scope", meaning that there was no self-employed Aboriginal person living in the household, in spite of earlier information reported on the 2001 Census records. These differences may have been the result of a number of factors:

- Changes in household composition, such that one or more of the people living in the household at the time the AES was conducted were not part of the household at the time of the 2001 Census;

- Household members may have undergone changes in employment status in the period of time between the 2001 Census and the time the AES was conducted;

- Different household members may have responded to the 2001 Census and the AES and they may have different perceptions of Aboriginal identity and employment status.

Overall, 51% of households contacted for the AES were out of scope.

Of the 8,541 households included in the sample for the AES, a total of 1,126 individuals participated in this survey. The overall response rate was established at 36%.

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