CFWR to begin loan program for local women entrepreneurs

·3 min read

Community Futures Wild Rose (CFWR) is taking part in a new provincial initiative to help women entrepreneurs recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and continue to grow their businesses.

The Alberta Women’s Economic Recovery – Capital Growth Initiative will offer low-interest small business loans to support businesses on the road to recovery.

“This is a really exciting partnership between the Government of Alberta, Community Futures and Alberta Women’s Entrepreneurs,” said Chantale Sangster, CFWR executive director. “It’s a three-way partnership and we have created this loan program to help women entrepreneurs with recovery after the pandemic.”

Women entrepreneurs will be able to apply for loans between $10,000 and $75,000 for unsecured, conditionally repayable loans.

Eligible costs would include operating capital, equipment, leasehold improvements, inventory, non-owner salaries and professional fees.

Successful applicants would also have access to advice and ongoing small business supports, as well as opportunities to develop their skills and manage their business plan.

“So, (it’s) really looking at helping them, whether it’s a start-up, whether we are looking at helping them grow, or we are just helping them with the recovery piece after two long years of pandemic,” said Sangster. “The Government of Alberta actually came to us, which is really exciting … and said, ‘look, the research says women entrepreneurs were really hit hard during the pandemic, can we create a loan program that will be specifically targeted to them so that we can really help them with recovery.’”

The pot for the loans was granted to Community Futures by the Government of Alberta and consists initially of $3 million.

The pot is meant to aid the Community Futures network across the province and will ultimately be split between the 27 operating offices.

As businesses pay back their loans, the money will be returned to the pot so that more loans can be distributed to applicant businesses.

“It is almost like women helping women, because when they pay the loan back, then we are able to dip into that fund again and loan to more women,” said Sangster. “We have received the funds from the Government of Alberta … we should be ready to be (helping) people in the next two weeks.”

The first six months of the loan, she added, will only charge interest to be repaid by the applicant business. After that, it will be a payment of principal and interest that will take place until the loan is paid off.

Sangster added that if a business is able to repay 75 per cent of their initial loan within the first five years, the last 25 per cent will be forgiven.

“It’s a very simple application process. They can go right to our website and look up the Women’s Entrepreneur loan and there is an eligibility form that they fill out that kickstarts the loan application,” said Sangster. “We have had several inquiries and several women filling out that eligibility form on our website, so we have lots of interest within the women in our region already.”

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

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