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Credit and debt

Credit and debt

Many low-income individuals don't have access to traditional forms of credit. Getting credit without a credit history, with a poor credit history, or for someone new to Canada can also be a challenge. A small loan - advanced based on the character of the borrower and the strength of the case for a loan - is a good way to begin building a solid credit history.

Lending circles

Lending circles harness the power of a group committed to working together to help each other access small business loans. The lending circle model - with an engaged chairperson, monthly meetings and regular contact with a community animator - has proven to be an effective network for individuals and a great way to build a credit history and launch home-based businesses. Loans are advanced in steps, based on the entire group's successful and timely repayments of their individual loans. Networking and events are provided for these groups, and financial literacy training is provided.

Our experience has shown that lending circles have a natural lifecycle and after several loans, groups begin to wind down. Because loans to this point have been personal loans for an informal business purpose, borrowers will graduate out of this lending into one of two other programs:

  • Members who are happy with both the size of their loans, and the informal nature of their business, can pursue individual personal loans (as long as they meet the credit and income requirements).
  • Members who want to grow their business, and set up a more formal "legal" business structure, will be referred to a self employment training program or partner agency that provides business plan support (such as Small Business B.C.), and will become eligible for a Be My Own Boss business loan.

If you're interested in finding out more about Vancity's lending circles send a note to

Be My Own Boss

Be My Own Boss is Vancity's self-reliance/microloan offer for new entrepreneurs who have a solid business idea and the will to make their business succeed. A formal written business plan is required, along with the completion of a short-form business plan.

In addition to a business plan, the member is expected to have a licensed business structure and two years of cash flow planning. Entrance to the loan program will come through two streams:

  • Lending Circle graduates: for individuals who have been in a lending circle for a while and are now ready for a more formal business structure.
  • Self-Employment Programs: for individuals who have gone through a recognized self-employment program.

To apply for a Be My Own Boss loan, complete the microloan application form and submit it to your Vancity branch. If you want more information on this product before applying, e-mail

Secured enviro Visa card

The Vancity secured Visa card is an excellent option to build or re-build your credit history. Getting a secured Vancity enviro Visa card is easy. All you need to do is set-up a one-year term deposit. The minimum for the term deposit is $500, which gives you a credit limit of $500. Your term deposit will also earn you interest.

The Secured Vancity enviro Visa card looks and works exactly like any Visa card. You enjoy the same great benefits such as travel accident insurance and purchased security coverage and you earn My Visa Rewards Plus points which you can redeem for Vancity financial products, travel, charitable donations and gift cards.

Simply use your Vancity enviro Visa card, ensure you pay your monthly bill on time and you are on your way to building a positive credit history. To apply for a Secured Vancity Visa card, visit any Vancity community branch.

Low-rate Visa card

For cardholders who keep an unpaid balance on their credit each month, our low rate Visa card may be a good option. This Visa card offers a much lower interest rate than regular credit cards in exchange for a nominal annual fee. If you pay more than $30 a year in interest on your credit card, this Visa could be a money-saver for you. To apply, select a product and ask us for the low-rate version.

Advice and Business Loans for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities (ABLED)

Establishing a new business is never easy. And if you're an entrepreneur living with a disability, launching your business can be even harder. That's why Vancity has dedicated staff who understand the unique challenges faced by entrepreneurs with disabilities, and will provide you with custom financing solutions that are right for you.