Western Ontario Community Futures

Contributed by Andrew Wallen Executive Director Western Ontario CFDC Association

The Western Ontario Association of CFDCs was incorporated in 2011 but we have been operating as community futures organizations well before then.

We began back in 1985/86 under the Government of Canada’s Local Employment Assistance and Development Program, LEAD. At that time, we had a singularly focused mandate…To create employment through investment. The translation of this was that we were there to provide business loans and counselling as needed to local and most often, rural enterprises when the more traditional institutions were not. We were there to step in essentially when the banks would not or could not, but we were not there to compete, in fact, our interest rates have always been a minimum of 2 to 3% above their prime lending rate. All lending decisions are made by a volunteer Board of Directors composed of local business operators and publicly minded individuals and supported through a professional staff.

Over the years our mandate expanded as did our lending limits. Originally we were capped at $25,000 whereas today we can lend up to $250,000 and we also have tools that can extend our financing to $500,000 and possibly even more. We also added the areas of community strategic planning and community economic development, CED, to our lending and counselling mandates.

Below are some of our ‘numbers’, if you will, in terms of what we provided to local businesses and entrepreneurs and the impacts we’ve had:

  • Have lent over $375,000,000 to SME’s since inception
  • Have help to created or maintained 55,000+ jobs with our CFDC small business lending
  • Currently have $155,000,000 in funds under our management
  • In 2018-2019 our 22 offices provided $30,000,000+ in new loans, with an additional $40,000,000 in leveraged third-party financing
  • We assisted 3000+ businesses in 2018-2019 with 40% being women-led enterprises
  • Our help led to some 2200 new jobs being created and almost 4000 jobs maintained across Western Ontario through Business, Advisory and Lending Services in 2018-2019.

CFDCs in Western Ontario have continued to evolve and develop over the years. We have expanded our project participation as well as our partnerships, as our ongoing relationship with the Western Ontario Wardens illustrates. And while we are well steeped in and respectful of our past, we know we need to look to our future. To this end we recently undertook several planning and assessment workshops, identifying and estimating values of proposed strategic and project initiatives in laying out a course of action for ourselves.

To the recognition of adaptation, collaboration and change, we would welcome further input with respect to future activities and to creating opportunities to effectively and expeditiously execute for the best of the Western Ontario region.

To this end, we look to arrange opportunities for meeting with the members of the WOWC and other partner and stakeholder organizations to ensure that we are listening effectively and responding appropriately.  Please contact us at info@wocfdca.com or call our Executive Director, Andrew Wallen at 519-752-0381, extension 5. We look forward to connecting!