The Community Futures East Kootenay office will begin accepting scheduled appointments with existing clients on June 1. Unfortunately, walk-in visits will continue to be prohibited until further notice. The health and safety of our staff and their families remains our first priority as we support re-opening BC’s economy.
On March 20, CFEK launched our Emergency Payment Relief Program for existing clients and our Emergency Loan Program to support small businesses and entrepreneurs in our communities. We are very proud of our ability to provide rapid and comprehensive financial support to businesses throughout CFEK’s entire service area as details of the pandemic response were still emerging.
On April 9 the Government of Canada introduced the $40,000 Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA), available through banks and credit unions, and have since expanded the program to ensure that more businesses qualify.
On May 13 Western Economic Diversification announced the Regional Relief & Recovery Fund (RRRF), available in part through the Community Futures network in Western Canada. This program provides Community Futures offices additional resources to make loans of up to $40,000 available to small businesses and entrepreneurs that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 in rural communities. These loans will have a forgivable component (25%), as well as terms and conditions similar to CEBA. Businesses will have the choice to apply for CEBA or RRRF but not both.
The COVID 19 pandemic is currently affecting every community, industry and business in Canada. Community Futures offices across Canada have been working to develop and implement strategies to help entrepreneurs and small businesses cope with impacts of market disruption, business closures, travel interruptions and the need for social distancing in their communities.
In March, Community Futures East Kootenay responded with immediate steps to provide assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses in our service area.
First, we provided a 3-month Payment Relief Program for all of our current clients, suspending interest and waiving fees until June 30, 2020 so that our clients would have one less thing to worry about.
Second, Community Futures East Kootenay developed and offered a special repayable term loan product. This emergency credit facility was aimed at helping entrepreneurs and small businesses remain operational and/or cope with lost business during this exceptional time. Existing businesses in our service area were eligible to apply for an emergency loan of up to $20,000 with limited security requirements, pragmatic terms and conditions, and a rapid response time.
Finally, CFEK implemented an online loan application portal to deliver the Regional Relief & Recovery Fund (RRRF) program. Utilizing additional capital provided to the Community Futures network by the Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification, we are providing loans of up to $40,000 to further support the businesses and employers in our communities.
We recognize that the businesses in our communities are vital and that they continue to be vulnerable to the inescapable and ongoing economic effects of this pandemic. We are working with our partners, including all levels of government, Chambers of Commerce, business associations and other service providers, to respond to the evolving and growing needs of our business community.