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Civic Impact

Futurpreneur set to help more young start-up businesses, with less funding

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week made a very high profile announcement of a $14-million investment in Futurpreneur Canada to help young entrepreneurs start their own businesses, the funding was actually less than the organization received from the feds two years ago. And that’s the way they wanted it, says Futurpreneur CEO Julia Deans. In fact, the $4-million decrease was by request.

“It’s a good news story,” says Deans. “In the past we’ve had to raise all the money that we use for both our loans and our programs and operating expenses. But now with our track record and strong repayment we’ve had from our young entrepreneurs, we’re going to be able to get money on a commercial basis from the private sector for our loans. So the money we raise goes to the program and our operating. We’re now able to sustain a lot of our operations using private-sector capital. It’s good news and it’s a story that others will be looking closely at.”

The program, founded in 1996 as the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, provides young wannabe business owners with help developing a business plan and making a loan application. It also provides mentoring, networking opportunities and other resources to help them get their businesses off the ground. Their entrepreneurs have been solid enough as business people that more than 90 per cent are able to repay their loans—a rate attractive enough to financial institutions to take them on directly. That means Futurpreneur can use its funding to focus more on delivering the program itself. Over the next two years, they predict that 2,700 young entrepreneurs will access the financing and programs, potentially creating 2,250 new businesses and 10,800 jobs.

Since 1996, the organization has created 7,500 businesses and an estimated 29,800 jobs. Last year, participants created 500 businesses in Ontario, many of them in the GTA, The first startup to receive funding 19 years ago, a garage and repair shop in London, Ontario, is still in operation.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Julia Deans
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