Small Business

Peer-to-Peer: Where can I find funding as a disabled entrepreneur?

Written by ProfitGuide

Question

“I am a disabled entrepreneur currently attending college in B.C. in an entrepreneurial program. I have registered my business and have a business plan combined with 20 years of sales, marketing and management experience. My problem is that I have no established credit and have a monthly provincial disability pension to live on (a great motivation to improve my life). I am seeking any advice, particularly advice from disabled entrepreneurs, in regards to startup grants or financing available. I have no family that can assist me and Community Futures Development Corp. no longer provides startup money to disabled entrepreneurs. Any sage words of advice or wisdom will be greatly appreciated.”

Submit a question.

Christine MacLean, Humphries & Co.

VanCity, a credit union in B.C. (particularly the Lower Mainland), has several peer lending and self-reliance lending programs, including one called ABLED. ABLED lends funds to persons with ‘self-identified’ disabilities based on character and the strength of their business plan. I used this program and it helped enormously in getting my business off the ground. Ms. Fournier may find it worth her while to look at VanCity’s website, or call Marilyn Neudorf at (604) 709-6934 to discuss the possibilities.”

Barbara Densmore

I am going to forward this along to the Women’s Enterprise Society of BC. They provide funding … perhaps they can help.

Virginia O’Dine

I am horrified to hear that Community Futures will not help you!! This is discrimination!! If your disability does not hamper your business operation and capabilities, you are eligible, same as everyone else. Their mandate to help those who are turned away by standard resources (i.e., banks) is meant for people like you (and me). Have you looked into their decision any further? Maybe a letter to the press would start the ball rolling and put pressure on institutions with regulations such as this.

If you are on Social Assistance, ask about the Self-Employment Benefits Program, which allows you to claim your business expenses, instead of having them deducted from your assistance.

Contact the Women’s Enterprise Society at http://www.wes.bc.ca/. They should be able to give you more resources.

Do a search on the web for keywords such as women +business +disability +finance +Canada. You may be surprised by what you find.

Best wishes for you and your business goals!

Bob Andrew, Business Advisory Services, Calgary

With regard to the disabled entrepreneur, having worked with some in Calgary, I might make the following suggestions. Even though they come from an Alberta perspective, similar organizations may exist in BC.

  • Talk to Western Economic Diversification — even though they fund Community Futures they may fund other resources. For example, in Alberta they fund the Alberta Womens’ Enterprise Initiative which, if you were here, might be a great source for funding.
  • Talk to the BC Employment department, or whatever it may be called. They often cooperate with Canada Employment to fund disabled entrepreneurs. Again, even in Alberta where cutbacks have ruled for years, there are still some programs available for this.
  • Go to www.strategis.ic.gc.ca — the Industry Canada website which lists all government programs in all parts of the country.
  • Talk to the support group which deals with your particular disability. Some of the volunteers or contributors may be interested in backing you to get started.
  • Talk to your largest competitors or potential clients. The competitors may be willing to have you sub-contract to them and the clients may be willing to invest in you to provide a long-term source of your services.

Keep digging, and good luck.

Jean-Paul Demeria, CEO, Power Performance Group

She may contact her provincial small business center for a list of small business grants put forth by the government. If her business plan is large enough with an aggressive growth plan she also may want to contact the BDC. There is also usually a city business development office that will have a list of community-based VC funds.

James Piper, TaxCalcs.com, Kitchener, Ont.

When someone has no credit history (i.e., no recent record of borrowing and repaying, as opposed to a bad credit history), it is quite easy to establish and build up a good credit history. The key points to follow are:

  • Get a credit card with a modest limit of, say, $500 or $1,000. This can be done by providing the financial institution with a security deposit. In this way the bank is fully protected and should provide a card.
  • Use the card prudently. Know that whatever is charged on the card will have to be repaid within a month.
  • Pay off the balance owing on the card on time and in full. Do not miss a payment. Do not allow the balance to accumulate. This is critical to show that you are responsible in managing credit.

Over time, if you follow this approach you will establish a good credit history.

Name withheld by request

We have done a bit of research into entrepreneurial programs for individuals with disabilities and have uncovered three resources which may be of interest to Ms. Fournier. We are pleased to pass this information onward and hope that it will be useful, but respectfully ask that you do not use or publish our name.

  • The Government of British Columbia’s Office for Disability Issues provides a number of different resources specifically targeted to individuals with disabilities. These can be found at http://www.gov.bc.ca/odi/prgs/
  • One program in particular might be of interest to you. VanCity offers a program offering Advice and Business Loans for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities (ABLED). The goals of ABLED are to provide a loan program for loans up to $75,000 as well as one-on-one business counseling that is tailored to the realities of entrepreneurs with disabilities. Business counseling is provided by the Enterprise Development Specialist (EDS) at VanCity. The Enterprise Development Specialist works with the entrepreneur in several ways, including pathfinding to appropriate resources, and assistance in the business planning process. More details regarding this program can be found at http://www.vancity.com/link?menuId=50150.
  • Additionally, you may be interested in Western Economic Diversification Canada’s Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program. The program provides entrepreneurs with disabilities, who are unable to obtain financing from a traditional financial institution, access to business loans up to $125,000. The loan terms are designed to be patient and flexible, and are tailored to meet your needs. Types of projects supported by this program include: starting or expanding a business; purchasing and applying new technology; upgrading facilities and equipment; developing marketing and promotions materials; and establishing working capital for anticipated sales increases. More information regarding this program can be found at http://www.wd.gc.ca/eng/finance/programs/EDP.html.

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Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com
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