Microloan fund grows local business

Non-profit supports local entrepreneurs through loans under $10,000 with an annual interest rate of 10%

Though Charlane Simpson, 62, considers herself an artist before a businessperson, she’s managed to make a full-time job of the “entertaining aprons” she designs.

Simpson’s one-woman business, I’m Sew Excited, designs ornate, custom aprons for flower shops, cafes, wineries, and other businesses. Simpson got her start last year, with help from Victoria’s Community Microlending.

The non-profit supports local entrepreneurs through “microloans,” one- to five-year loans under $10,000 with an annual interest rate of 10 per cent.

Many of the borrowers, like Simpson, have little or no business experience, while others may have bad credit or a criminal record — factors a bank or credit union would consider high-risk.

“I needed money just to get started, to get fabric, brochures and cards, and I couldn’t have done it without them,” Simpson said. “I’ve been on social assistance since I was diagnosed with cancer (three years ago,) and now I’m finally working out of it.”

The loans are considered peer-to-peer, as a majority of the funds are provided in small amounts by individual investors from the community. Though donors take on the risk of a project going under, said Vu Ndlovu, executive director, Community Microlending uses “business mentors” to provide entrepreneurs with guidance. Simpson, for example, had little luck with selling aprons individually and was advised to find a niche in selling custom aprons to businesses.

“So far everyone has been able to keep up with payments,” Ndlovu said, “but when they start falling behind we work closer to help them get back on track.”

Community Microlending recently added an extra $10,000 to their coffers after partnering with the Victoria Microlending Association. The group had been supporting startups across the globe with KIVA.org, before learning that there was a need for micro investors in Victoria.

“With that extra money we can feed loans quicker, entrepreneurs can get started quicker,” Ndlovu said. “(Local business) is really key to community development, the local economy really is dependent on these businesses.”

Just Posted

Saanich Police salutes fallen officer

Const. Robert Kirby was killed in the line of duty on April 24, 1960

Horgan heckled as gas prices sit at record high, could go up more

Premier John Horgan blames refiners, not taxes

Good Samaritans rescue Sidney senior trapped under mobility scooter

78-year-old broke her pelvis and spent a week in hospital after the accident

Langford shooting suspect is banned from having firearms: West Shore RCMP

Investigators ask witnesses and occupants of the brown Cadillac Deville involved to come forward

Downtown Victoria Shoppers Drug Mart to take over previous Chapters location

The drug store is moving next door to take on a two-storey expansion

VIDEO: Police dog in Oregon struck by 200 porcupine quills during pursuit

The German shepherd had to be sedated and was in treatment for more than two hours

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

SPCA investigating after newborn kittens found in Vancouver dumpster

The kittens were found suffering from hypothermia and dehydration

Experts butt heads in court, hunter loses case for return of ram

Despite expert testimony, judgement says ram probably underage

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C. man turned to dating site for pimp operation, court hears

In court the details of how Simon Rypiak lured 4 women into prostitution revealed

Most Read