This post is by Alessandra Sanchez :
An idea in your head - for an entrepreneur, that is basically all that is required. It doesn’t matter where you come from or your gender, once you have the idea, all you need to do is to look around for support to implement it.
What about the investment I need to get my idea off the ground? - You might say. Let me share with you some of the many resources available in Canada to support you on your enterprise.
Inspired by the experience of Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, Canada has many forms of micro-credit: from the peer based model of Grameen, to immigrant loan funds provided by many settlement agencies in partnership with financial institutions, to individual character based loans provided by community loan funds and credit unions.
Micro-credit is understood as the provision of small loans to individuals, to help them finance income-generating activities or set up small businesses. The micro-credit methodology is almost the reverse of the conventional banking methodology. Conventional banking loans are based on collateral, in other words, assets that can guarantee the loan. Micro-credit is collateral- free, it is not based on assessing the material possession of a person, it is based on the potential of a person. Interestingly, 97 percent of Grameen Bank borrowers are women and there is a reason for that: women, when given the opportunity to unleash their potential, become unstoppable and improve not only their lives but the lives of the people around them. It is not any different in Canada.
So, if you are an immigrant woman with an idea in your head, you can certainly find support to your income generating enterprise. A quick search on the internet using the key words “micro loans” and your city should allow you to identify organizations in your area that provide micro-loans and they will not only support you but also get you connected to a big network of other small women entrepreneurs.
Governmental Support Programs
The government of Canada has many different programs to support small business. The main support comes through the BDC – Business Development Bank of Canada. The BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing, venture capital and consulting services to small entrepreneurs. BDC typical clients are entrepreneurs running small business with 2 to 5 employees – bigger and more complex than the typical micro-credit entrepreneur borrower. For more detail on the BDC product and service offerings just visit their website: www.bdc.ca/en
If you still haven’t found that great idea to create your own business but feel you need help to better understand personal financial matters, support is also available. There are several community organizations and government agencies offering basic financial education including the main banks. Again, to find a financial literacy resource close to you, a search on goggle using the key words “financial literacy” and your location should suffice.
In summary, it doesn’t matter whether you are an entrepreneur with an idea in your head, or if you have a small business and is struggling to grow or you are just looking to get better educated on financial matters, if there is one thing your new country Canada has to offer is plenty of support resources. And thanks to Google, help is just a click away. Start searching and happy clicking!
Alessandra Sanchez is a Brazilian, has an MBA and works as a Management Consultant at large financial institutions and resource companies. She moved to Toronto in 2003 and leaves with her husband, her daughter, 5 and son 3.