Community Futures of the Central Okanagan has been operating the Business Plan Development Program since 1992, with nearly 2,000 start-ups coming through the program throughout that time. Participants receive business plan development assistance, a variety a business skills development workshops, one-on-one mentoring, and business counselling over a six-week period. Past participants have credited the program with giving them “the practical tools to move my business from the dream stage to an active money earning enterprise”, and have called the program a “critical component” in their business success and “an invaluable source of inspiration, expertise, and guidance.” The peer-to-peer learning has supported past participants in “getting tips, fostering camaraderie, making new connections, and re-energizing.”
While the program has typically been offered primarily to new start-ups and aspiring entrepreneurs, the need for training and support for existing businesses has become vital. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on local businesses and entrepreneurs, resulting in the need for flexibility and creativity, and forcing many to pivot their business models, service offerings, and approach. These pivots require the support of market validation, financial viability testing, and business planning.
To address this need, Community Futures is expanding the Business Plan Development Program to both new and existing businesses. Participants will benefit from effective and realistic opportunity assessment, comprehensive business plan development, collaboration with peers, and real life experiential learning in hands-on workshops. Existing businesses will gain support in assessing their potential pivots or new service offerings, and building this into a practical plan to guide their business in a pandemic-affected marketplace. The program is currently offered in a virtual classroom format and delivered on a flexible schedule that allows for participants to continue working in their businesses while still attending class discussions. The program is open to for-profits, non-profits, social enterprises, gig workers, and freelancers. Sponsorship and bursaries to cover the cost of the program are available through CFDC.
Beginning with the Opportunity Readiness Workshop, participants will assess the feasibility of their opportunity and their own entrepreneurial skills. From there, a needs assessment and application is completed. This process ensures participants are properly qualified and prepared to proceed with the six-week program.
Interested business owners and entrepreneurs can visit www.cfdcco.com/services/workshops-a-training or call Ali Brent, Program Manager at Community Futures of the Central Okanagan at 250-868-2132 ext. 224 for further program details.
Small business owners from across the Okanagan-Shuswap region have the chance to participate in three days of development workshops and connect with peers from across the valley as Community Futures hosts a virtual version of Small Business Week events.
“Small Business Week is an important business development opportunity that our community looks forward to every year, so this year we decided to host it virtually due to COVID-19,” says Larry Widmer, General Manager of Community Futures Central Okanagan. “We’re excited to be bringing together some talented presenters and attendees who might not otherwise have the chance to network and discuss opportunities.”
“Many of this year’s sessions will focus on topics that are timely as businesses navigate operations during COVID-19, and we also have a nice balance of topics that are important building blocks and best practices in general,” says Widmer, who has been working with his Community Futures peers from Salmon Arm to Penticton to organize the event.
The virtual valley-wide Community Futures Small Business Week events run Oct. 20-22 with seminars in the morning, interactive breakout groups in the afternoon and virtual networking opportunities throughout the day.
Community Futures Valley-wide Virtual Small Business Week
Tuesday, Oct. 20
Sponsored by BDO
Preparing for tax season
Entrepreneur’s Exit: Steps to your Sale
Strategy for Small Businesses
Entrepreneur’s Financial Literacy: How to Tackle and Take Control of Your Debt
An Entrepreneur’s Financial Check-Up
Wednesday, Oct. 21
Sponsored by Vantage Credit Union
Digital marketing: The big picture
Cyber-Security for Small Business
Thursday, Oct. 22
Supporting your team during a pandemic
Creating a workplace that people want to work in
Managing Bullying/Harassment complaints and mental injury claims
Community Futures is a community based organization that contributes to the social and economic well being of the Central Okanagan by providing small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs access to services tailored to individual needs. From financing to training programs, Community Futures is a full support centre for new and existing businesses.
For more information, media can contact:
250-868-2132 ext. 223
Kelowna, BC (August 5, 2020) – The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is collaborating with Community Futures organizations across the region to assist in providing financial support to the tourism sector as part of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Resiliency Program. The Community Futures and TOTA taskforce is announcing the “Thompson Okanagan Tourism Micro Loan Program,” an initiative spearheaded by all nine Community Futures organizations located in TOTA’s region, which will offer micro loans to tourism businesses starting at $200 and up to $25,000.
“This new initiative represents a pivotal moment for the regional tourism sector as well as another important evolution of our work in helping the industry recover and become more resilient for the long term,” said Glenn Mandziuk, President and CEO of TOTA. “The program will address the immediate need to mitigate financial impacts associated with additional costs and losses tourism businesses have been facing as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
In July 2020, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and nine Community Futures offices in the region signed a formal agreement, committing to the development of an active and meaningful relationship on the path to rebuilding a resilient tourism industry in the wake of the global Pandemic.
“Community Futures is in the business of assisting small business across the region, the province, and Canada. We have been a part of your community for over 35 years and we continue to support you with advice, training, and loans,” said Rob Marshall, Executive Director for Community Futures Shuswap and Community Futures Provincial Board Member. The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Micro Loan Program is another example of partners working together to provide help in times of need to our essential tourism industry.”
The Community Futures and TOTA taskforce is working to implement projects, access needed resources, and share best practices to revitalize, support, and grow the tourism sector, during the pandemic and beyond. Efforts and strategies are focused on tourism growth, development, sustainability, and long-term resiliency. The “Thompson Okanagan Tourism Micro Loan Program” is in alignment with the previously announced Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) program which has, to date, provided $587,000 to 20 tourism businesses in the region.
Applicants to the program must be referred to Community Futures by a Tourism Resiliency Program Advisor and terms and conditions specific to each location apply.
About the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA): The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association is a non-profit society, governed by an elected Board of Directors, which represents business and community tourism interests throughout the region, and is supported by the British Columbia Ministry of Tourism, Arts, & Culture. It is an industry-led organization that represents and supports all business and community tourism interests in the region, while also helping to implement provincial tourism policies. For more information, visit TOTABC.org.
About Community Futures : Community Futures is a non-profit organization supporting small businesses through a range of services and tools. With experts offering local assistance from 34 offices throughout rural BC, they are committed to helping business owners achieve their goals and withstand challenges. TOTA is proud to be forming a joint tourism industry resiliency task force with this outstanding organization and collaborating towards positive advancements for the tourism industry, local businesses, and communities.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community Futures Central Okanagan office will not be open to in person traffic.
Staff will work online and by phone to serve the needs of our clients. Employee email addresses and phone numbers are listed under staff and management page on the Community Futures website.
The next Business Plan Development Program begins Monday March 23 and this program will be delivered online. Business coaching and staff support will be provided by phone, email or in a virtual meeting software platform.
Loan clients also can access services by email, phone or virtually as required. New loan applications will continue to be reviewed and processed in a timely fashion.
It is time to help each other. These are unprecedented times and Community Futures will deploy all of it's resources and connections to assist its clients and our community.
As small business service providers, our collective organizations encourage and support B.C. entrepreneurs with business continuity planning as they start and grow their business. Business continuity is especially relevant as small businesses consider the possible impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on their employees and operations. I anticipate you have been hearing from clients and employees who are looking for information and guidance in this area.
Small Business BC and the B.C. government Small Business Branch have prepared a joint informational electronic resource that provides a checklist of considerations that small businesses can use to help minimize the impacts of COVID-19 to their employees and operations. We invite you to share the attached resource with your clients and networks, and to share Small Business BC’s social media posts (Facebook and Twitter) to help distribute this timely information where it’s needed.
Versions of the resource will soon be available in Punjabi, Korean, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. We will send a follow up communication when these versions are ready to share.
Small Business BC is also maintaining a webpage with links to current information and relevant private sector articles on COVID-19 considerations for business. Small Business BC advisors are ready to answer entrepreneurs’ questions about implementing or updating business continuity plans, accessing the Talk to an Expert program, or finding online training to help them take the next step.
Our primary concern is the health of all British Columbians, and we continue to work across government and with our federal counterparts to help people and businesses in B.C. prepare.
Jackie Hunter Executive Director Small Business Branch Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness
Happipad Technologies Inc. was granted $30,000 for an affordable housing program designed to match seniors with empty rooms in their homes to young adults who need accommodation. According to the news release outlining the projects, the program also provides ongoing support for the seniors and the tenants are vetted. The goal of the project is to reduce social isolation and increase affordable housing. click link to read full story.