Micro-loans now available to Cape Breton women entrepreneurs

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SYDNEY – Needing money for her business and instead of a bank loan, Mariah Battiste relied on an investment from her father to get started.

Today, the owner / operator of Eskasoni-based Sundaylace Creations says her online business is booming. In fact, the 30-year-old recently received the Jack Yazer Young Entrepreneur of the Year award at the 2021 Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.

Battiste, who has become a strong advocate for supporting local women entrepreneurs, spoke last week about the importance of early stage support at a virtual press conference announcing the continuation of a micro-loan program for women entrepreneurs.

“I started small, I didn’t have a business plan, I didn’t have a business account, I didn’t have everything you need to be eligible for these loans,” recalled Battiste, whose business is difficult to sell. -find native craft supplies, own craft creations and bling.

“This is the start-up money that everyone is looking for when they don’t yet feel like they’re a legitimate business. I was on welfare when I started my business, so for someone like me, becoming where I am now was like moving mountains. But if I had had this guarantee in advance, the climb would have been much faster.

“So this program is one more opportunity for women to pursue their dreams. It’s great to see more and more support for women entrepreneurs.

MICRO-LOAN PROGRAM

The official name of the new initiative is the Cape Breton-Unima’ki Women Entrepreneur Micro Loan Program. The program is a collaborative effort between the Sydney Credit Union, which will handle all financial aspects of the loan, and the Cape Breton Partnership. The latter, a private sector-led economic development agency, will coordinate and help navigate the program, while also providing access to mentors, programs and other resources such as planning, support for development. export, immigration and economic research.

During its run as a pilot program, the initiative provided money to 12 women business owners in Cape Breton. The renewed program opened last Tuesday for applications with the window closing in three months or when program funds are all allocated.

Loans can be up to $ 10,000 and are offered without interest for the first six months and at a four percent non-compound rate thereafter. Fifty percent of the funding goes to Indigenous women entrepreneurs.

MORE THAN A LOAN

Jenna Lahey, the Partnership’s inclusive workplace innovation manager, said the renewal of the program is helping local women entrepreneurs launch their businesses, which she said has historically been difficult.

“Two recent reports, one from the Partnership and one from Cape Breton Voices, revealed that women in Cape Breton-Unima’ki face significant barriers, especially financial ones, when trying to launch or develop businesses, ”Lahey said.

“In some cases, only a small injection of money could really help. But it’s not just a loan program. This program offers women entrepreneurs a resource that is truly invested in their business.

Carol Ripley, CEO of Sydney Credit Union, called the program a “win-win” situation.

Carol Ripley is CEO of Sydney Credit Union.

“If our local businesses are successful, their success benefits us all,” she said.

“We know that small and medium businesses are the backbone of our community. They create jobs, help reduce emigration and strengthen the local economy.

For more information on the program and how to apply, visit the Cape Breton Partnership website.


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