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Small businesses face many challenges, from financial barriers to lack of mentorship, but ACCESS Community Capital Fund is here to help.


The pandemic spurred the creation of many new businesses, with nearly two million Canadians launching a business during the first 12 months of the pandemic. At the same time, small business owners and entrepreneurs were some of the hardest hit during COVID-19 pandemic.

No matter when a small business is launched, however, small business owners face many challenges — doubly so if they’re newcomers to Canada, which many are. From having the know-how to get off the ground to securing loans to finding meaningful mentorship and supports, entrepreneurs have a lot to contend with. Fortunately, organizations like ACCESS Community Capital Fund are available to help small business owners navigate the choppy waters and build their dream business or career.

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Helping small businesses succeed

ACCESS empowers entrepreneurs to realize their potential through financing, education, and mentorship. “We mainly support entrepreneurs and small business owners or people who want to own small businesses but can’t actually gain funding through traditional lending sources — banks — due to either lack of credit, misaligned credit statements or debt ratio, or blemished credit,” says Ryan Hollinrake, ACCESS’ Executive Director. “They don’t fit the standard government-regulated banking industry that we have today.”

ACCESS supports primarily newcomers who can’t access traditional lending because they don’t have a credit rating in Canada — 78 percent of its clients are newcomers — as well as those born and raised in Canada who have damaged or offset credit.

“We have a really unique lending standard,” says Hollinrake. “We use what’s called a character-based lending model. We don’t only look at the credit — we look at the individual, their business plan, and the market they’re going into, and we help them get where they want to go.”

The pandemic spurred the creation of many new businesses, with nearly two million Canadians launching a business during the first 12 months of the pandemic.

Well-rounded supports

If a potential entrepreneur’s business plan isn’t solid enough to secure funding, the team at ACCESS points the individual toward its Small Business Accelerator (SBA) or Women’s Business Accelerator (WBA). “These free programs help them with writing a business plan, registering with the government, preparing a marketing plan, and financial budgeting and forecasting,” says Hollinrake. The WBA was specifically designed to equip newcomer, BIPOC women with the tools they need to build a profitable business and economic independence.

Finally, ACCESS’ Small Business Loans program connects would-be entrepreneurs with low-interest loans, removing as many barriers as possible.

“The SBA program has given me the confidence to pursue my dream and business idea,” says Winnie Lee, founder of Eden’s Treasure, a handmade soaps and self-care products company. “With the networking and workshops, I had the confidence to move ahead with my business.”

“The WBA helped me to target my ideal customer and concentrate on my future goals to grow my business,” says Ghadeer Herzallah, founder of Ghadeer Creations, a balloon decoration company.

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