Chatham-Kent Workforce Planning Board Project Manager Kristy Jacobs. (Photo by Dave Richie)

Micro-Loans Available For Small Businesses

There’s money for entrepreneurs in Chatham-Kent.

The Workforce Planning Board is out with a new micro-lending program for residents who need small amounts of cash to get their businesses off the ground.

Project Manager Kristy Jacobs says they’ll give you a flexible loan of up to $5,000. Interest rates will be set at 5% and repayment options individualized.

“The whole point of this project is to get some money into the hands of entrepreneurs who may not be able to access it otherwise,” says Jacobs. “There’s so many people out there with such great ideas and the last thing we want in Chatham-Kent is to have finances trip you up.”

The program is modelled after a pilot program launched in the fall of 2015 with very limited success. Jacobs says the pilot failed because the application process proved difficult. They’ve since simplified the program and included a mentoring piece, which gives anyone interested in completing an application the opportunity to meet with staff who will guide you through the process.

Jacobs says they’re looking at startups or expansions of small businesses.

“It is geared for folks that might not be able to qualify for other or more traditional lending sources, but anyone is welcome to apply,” she says. “Basically what it is is do you have a pretty sound business idea? What are you going to do with this money? How’s this going to help you move forward?”

Jacobs says they have $24,000 worth of loans sitting in the bank. Some of the funds were donated by a local businessperson with ties to the small business community, and the remaining was matched by the government.

“The repayment goes right back into the loan pot… We’re hoping to keep it on a pretty revolving door basis,” says Jacobs. “It’s sitting in a bank right now not doing anybody but the bank any good, so we would like to see it get out and help some folks.”

To set up an appointment email CKWorkforce@chatham-kent.ca or call (519) 436-3299.