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Aug 14: New Small Business Conservation...

New Small Business Conservation Finance Program to Improve Access to Debt Capital

Vancouver, August 14, 2001 - A new source of patient debt capital for small businesses and community organizations looking to undertake environmentally beneficial activities was announced today by the Honourable Herb Dhaliwal, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, on behalf of the Honourable Ron J. Duhamel, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Secretary of State (Western Economic Diversification) (Francophonie), Dave Mowat, CEO, Vancity and Ian Gill, President, Ecotrust Canada.

Vancity, Ecotrust Canada and Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), have partnered to provide a $7 million Small Business Conservation Finance Program designed to foster growth, create jobs and support business expansion which delivers products or services that enhance conservation and environmental sustainability. Loan approval is based on solid management, cash flow and market viability. Vancity and Ecotrust Canada will provide loan investments to a maximum of $500,000 to qualified clients. WD will support the program through loan loss reserves.

"This is an excellent example of partnering for the well-being of our environment," said Minister Dhaliwal. "WD recognizes that small businesses within Western Canada often face increased difficulty accessing financing, particularly financing for environmentally responsible growth. Partnerships like the one announced today are essential. They bring together public, private and community organizations with the varied strengths, resources and programs necessary to help entrepreneurs succeed in business and create responsible choices for Western Canada."

"Vancity is excited to be working with Ecotrust Canada and WD on this important initiative," said CEO Dave Mowat. "In keeping with our commitment to corporate social responsibility, the Small Business Conservation Finance program is an excellent example of how we can apply our financial skills to achieve positive economic and environmental impacts in our communities."

"In our work with conservation entrepreneurs, we are constantly impressed with their innovation and their commitment to doing business in a way that simultaneously promotes environmental quality and social equity," said Ecotrust Canada president Ian Gill. "The Small Business Conservation Finance program is itself an innovative way to promote the conservation economy."

Projects that meet program criteria will be referred to either financial partner. Ecotrust Canada, Vancity and WD will provide project analysis and business planning assistance. Due diligence assessment and ongoing support will be carried out, and all final loan decisions will be made by the lending institution.

Ecotrust Canada is a private, non-profit charitable organization promoting the emergence of a conservation economy in the coastal temperate rain forests of British Columbia. Working in communities throughout the region, Ecotrust Canada provides business and credit services, as well as mapping and information services to help build local capacity.

Vancity serves as a catalyst for the self-reliance and economic well being of its members and the community. Vancity is Canada's largest credit union, with $7.0 billion in assets, 269,000 members, and 39 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country by telephone, ATM, and the Internet. Both Vancity and Citizens Bank are guided by a commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Western Economic Diversification Canada's objective is to encourage new economic activity in Western Canada, help create new jobs for western Canadians and help businesses and communities adapt to, and take advantage of, changing technologies and markets. In pursuit of this objective, WD provides a wide range of services focused on small and medium-sized enterprises, including information on business planning and development, export and trade development, access to financing and selling to governments.

Federal funding for the Small Business Conservation Finance Program was provided in the February 2000 federal budget and is therefore built into the existing fiscal framework. This initiative is an example of how the Government of Canada is prioritizing its spending to better serve Canadians by making efficient use of tax dollars.