How does one secure startup capital? It's question every burgeoning entrepreneur grapples with.
For some, the answer might be relatively straightforward: a solid résumé, relevant experience and sufficient collateral is usually enough to secure even a major bank loan.
But for others, the question can be an especially tough one. For low-income individuals without a credit history or consistent employment, going to a bank or private investor for a startup loan is often a nonstarter.
In an effort to make startup capital available to "high risk" entrepreneurs, the Ontario's Women's Directorate
(OWD) recently launched a Microlending for Women in Ontario Grant Program
. The program, spearheaded by Ontario's Minister of Education and Women's Issues Laurel Broten (Etobicoke-Lakeshore), will support projects that employ microfinancing, the practice of providing small loans to individuals who cannot secure funds from more traditional forces. The aim is to help low-income women move towards financial independence.
"The idea came following some consultations that looked at programs that could empower women to use their skills to achieve their potential to be able to provide for their families, to be able to function in the economy and to provide financial security for themselves," says Graham Rivers, press secretary at Broten's office. "We saw a big gap, and we're hoping mircolending might be a way to fix it."
Because mircolending is still in its nascent stages, the grant is will be awarded not to individual entrepreneurs, but instead to organizations already pursuing, or interested in pursuing, mircofinancing strategies.
"We're still very much at the beginning," says Rivers, "which is why we've been collaborating and consulting with those nonprofits and non-governmental organizations who are connected to some of the people who we'd want to access this program."
"Microlending is well-established around the world, but in Ontario it's not. So part of our goal with this project is to help establish microlending and even draw some evaluation from what happens here to decide whether or not this is the sort of thing we should be pursuing in the future."
Applicants can apply through the Ontario Grants
website. The deadline to apply is Friday, July 27.
Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Graham Rivers, Press Secretary for MPP Laurel Broten