Damian Sowa introduced our speaker who he met at a Chamber of Commerce event.


Community micro lending is a registered non-profit that started in 2009.The purpose is to help local people get connected to financing to start or expand a business or for training to make recipients more employable. The organization matches them with local lenders if they cannot source conventional forms of financing. Business start-up loans go a maximum of $5,000, expansion loans go to a maximum of $10,000 and training loans go to a maximum of $5,000.


Many that approach the organization are living in poverty. In the CRD we have one of the highest rates of income inequality with 12% of the region’s people living in poverty and over 16,000 people annually visiting foodbanks. The region also has quite high youth unemployment and under employment.  Often people in poverty have a strong interest in self-employment as an option to support themselves. Many have other barriers that limit their opportunities in the job market. Many have no credit history, often a number are new Canadians and without credit history the traditional channels of securing financing are not available. Banks like to see sales history, something start-ups do not have.


Many who look to upgrade skills also have dependents so the traditional student loan channels are just not enough to help them get through training, upgrade programs or go back to school. Community Micro lending looks at the person and evaluates their circumstances to determine if they are ready now to make the leap. They also look at people who are under-represented within the business community. For example 24% of those served are new Canadians, 16% are first nations, and overall 62% are female. More than a third have dependants with some up to six dependents to support.


About three years ago they had a single Mom come to them who was working part time as a waitress and part time as a mortgage broker. She received a $3,000 loan from Community micro lending that allowed her to focus all her efforts on being a mortgage broker. With that change, it gave her the chance to build up what she was doing. She has completely paid off her debt and is now doing very well enjoying a good work/life balance.


What they require when approached is someone with a good business idea or an existing business. Nancy looks for the drive and passion they exude when talking about their plans assessing if there is truly a fire burning within. Being an entrepreneur is difficult, requires stamina, resiliency and willing to make a huge commitment. Nancy meets one on one with all applicants and once ready they go before a committee.  If the loan committee approves the loan then a profile of the borrower is placed on the website and lenders are sought who will make a loan to the approved borrower.   So it is a peer to peer network where local lenders provide loans to local borrowers.


All entrepreneur borrowers are matched with a mentor and are encouraged to use the organization for networking to help solve problems and leverage opportunities. Nancy talked about the Deadbeetz food truck owner who applied for a business expansion loan and is currently on the website.


Since 2009 there have been about 370 people who have made some steps towards applying for a loan with Community Micro Lending and there have been 40 loans administered for a total of $156,000. In every case people are helped in determining their course of action. With those who have been successful, they have generated approx. $500k in payroll that is going into the local economy, 89% of the businesses are still operating, and repayment rates are at 95%.


Nancy reviewed a number of individual success stories with the club – from moccasins to Caribbean food, to masonry the stories were moving. The organization’s pairing recipients with a mentor has had a dramatic beneficial impact. Gavin, the masonry company, paid off his loan years ago but stays in touch with his mentor to this day.


Nancy’s email address is nancy@communitymicrolending.ca more information can be found here, http://www.communitymicrolending.ca/


Nancy was thanked by Pieta VanDyke.