The micro-credit loan-support program, launched one year ago and bestows the residents of Toronto’s Black Creek community with the opportunity to build up their neighbourhood, one business at a time.
In recognition of the neighbourhood’s vast potential and cultural richness, and the Black Creek Micro-Credit Program seeks to support small-business incubation and growth by reducing their barriers to financial credit. It is a builder of bridges, operating between the entrepreneurial desires of community members and the opportunities for local business development.
Specifically, the Black Creek Micro-Credit Program aims to provide loans of up to $5,000 to entrepreneurs with solid business plans in the at-risk, Jane-Finch community who do not qualify for conventional bank loans. Established in 2007 as a part of the Black Creek Community Capacity Project, the Black Creek Micro-Credit Program partnered with Access Community Capital Fund and Alterna Savings to support individuals in the community who need assistance with business funding and skill development.
A micro-credit program is different from ordinary bank loans. Members of the community provide the investment backing for local community members who have sound business ideas but are unable to receive credit from mainstream banks. The Black Creek Micro-Credit Program will contribute to the community by creating employment and opportunities for professional experience.
According to Dr. Barry Reider, chair of the micro-credit program, applicants may submit subsequent loan requests that exceed $5,000, if they have proven themselves and their business to be credit-worthy.
As a chapter of the Access Community Capital Fund, The Black Creek Micro-Credit Program includes a Black Creek Steering Committee, a Local Loan Review committee and an Outreach Committee. Community members form a part of these committees in addition to members of local institutions such as York University, representatives from various community-based organizations, and people with finance and business backgrounds. The program is an economic development initiative of the Black Creek Community Capacity Building Group (BCCCBG).
The BCCCBG’s vision is “to improve the quality of life of residents living in the Black Creek community by building on strengths and resources.” They achieve this by working not only with residents, but also with community agencies, faith groups and businesses. The BCCCBG has the Black Creek Coordinating Committee (BCCC) as its manager, which receives support from a Project Coordinator, a Resident Advisory Group and Working Groups. The BCCC is the steering committee of the project; members include representatives from local organizations and service providers, faith groups, businesses and residents. The Resident Advisory Group is an open group, made up of Black Creek community residents, that provides ongoing input and recommendations to the BCCC. The BCCCBG’s five Working Groups fulfill the general goals present within their names: Enhancement of Information and Services; Healthy, Safe and Aesthetic Space and Facilities; Showcasing the Black Creek Community; Development of Education and Training Services; and Economic Independence and Stability.
New volunteers are always welcome; you may opt to join the Loan Review or Outreach Committee, or mentor a new micro-entrepreneur.
To learn more about the Black Creek Micro-Credit Program, the Black Creek Community Capacity Building Group or related organizations and programs, please visit http://www.blackcreekcapacity.ca