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Mar 7: New Small Business Program...

New Small Business Program Enables Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

Victoria, March 7, 2001 - A new source of capital and business development for entrepreneurs with disabilities in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley and Victoria areas was announced today by the Honourable David Anderson, Minister of Environment Canada, on behalf of Ron J. Duhamel, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Western Economic Diversification) (Francophonie).

Advice and Business Loans for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities (ABLED) assists entrepreneurs with disabilities to start their business. ABLED supports the federal government's ongoing commitment to help reduce barriers and increase self-employment opportunities for Canadians with disabilities.

WD will provide $500,000 in repayable investment funding and $100,000 in a non-repayable contribution for operating costs to both Vancouver City Savings Credit Union and Pacific Coast Savings Credit Union for a total contribution of $1.2 million. Agreements have been signed with Vancity and Pacific Coast Savings to deliver and manage the program in Vancouver and Victoria respectively. These agreements make available $5 million in capital for loans to entrepreneurs over the next five years. Both financial institutions will provide mentoring, counselling services, and access to capital to people with disabilities looking to start or expand their businesses.

"This is an excellent example of public/private sector partnership," said Minister Anderson. "Canadians with disabilities often face challenges in education, training and accessing information, in addition to difficulty obtaining business financing through traditional routes. Partnerships like the one being announced today are essential as they bring together public and private sector organizations with all the varied strengths, resources and programs to provide tools to help entrepreneurs succeed in business and create growth opportunities for Western Canada."

"At Vancity, our purpose is to work with people and communities to help them thrive and prosper," said Vancity CEO Dave Mowat. "This includes providing business products and services that meet the diverse needs of all our members, including those with disabilities. We look forward to working with Western Economic Diversification and Pacific Coast Savings to open doors for entrepreneurs with disabilities."

"We plan to work closely in partnership with the community on this initiative," said Pacific Coast President, Paul Duncan. "Our local stakeholders have confirmed that the program is an important one, and we will rely on support and expertise from a strong community advisory group."

ABLED is a flexible loan program designed to offer business loans to entrepreneurs with disabilities who are unable to obtain financing from traditional lenders. Individuals wishing to qualify for a loan must live in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley and the Victoria areas and have a disability. Participants may access loans up to $75,000 to start or expand a business, purchase or apply new technology, upgrade facilities and equipment, develop marketing and promotional activities, or establish working capital.

Pacific Coast Savings is a division of the newly-merged Richmond Pacific Coast Savings Credit Union, British Columbia's second-largest credit union with $3.2 billion in assets, more than 200,000 members and 25 branches located in Greater Victoria and the Lower Mainland. Vancity is Canada's largest credit union, with $6.9 billion in assets, 266,000 members, and 39 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria.

Funding for ABLED 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 federal government is prioritizing its spending to better serve Canadians by making efficient use of their tax dollars.