Community group creating a new micro lending fund


  • <p>SUBMITTED PHOTO</p><p>Elspeth McLean-Wile is the chair of the Lunenburg County Community Fund.</p>
  • <p>SCREENSHOT, BART AND HILDA FAMILY FUND</p><p>Wayne Fulcher is the founder of the Fulcher Foundation and a resident of Lunenburg County.</p>

The Lunenburg County Community Fund (LCCF) is working with a local foundation to establish a new micro lending fund for budding entrepreneurs in the county.

The founding donor and visionary of the fund is the Fulcher Foundation, which aims to drive community development from within the community.

In a news release issued Jan. 11, the LCCF indicated Wayne Fulcher, the founder of the Fulcher Foundation and a resident of Lunenburg County, knows firsthand what it feels like to have a dream and not be able to connect resources to carry it forward.

"I have been in the same shoes of many the applicants who will request assistance. As a young man, I didn't have the financial resources myself or family and friends with the money to help me get started." Fulcher said in the release.

The Lunenburg County Micro Lending Fund (LCLMF) will provide financial resources for small business entrepreneurs, both existing and new, from within the county of Lunenburg. The model will focus on loans of up to $10,000 that allow business owners, or people thinking about starting a new business, to make investments in their new or growing enterprises.

"This model brings philanthropy and economic development together to drive sustainable social good and is one of the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada," according to the LCCF release.

Meanwhile, the hunt is on for a permanent, full-time executive director who can take the helm of the new fund and get it going.

"The big push right now is to hire someone that will help in working through the details about what the organization will look like. I mean, we have the broad strokes of what it's intended to do, but the important part is in having the staff person that we hire be very involved in developing those ideas in a way to become workable and operational on the ground," Elspeth McLean-Wile, the chair of the LCCF, told LighthouseNOW.

How much money will be available for the lending program overall remains to be determined.

"What the size of the fund will be and all of that will be part of the organizational work," which is yet to be done, said McLean-Wile.

However, she emphasized, "We're looking at micro-lending. So these are small loans, really designed to help people who are at the very beginning stage of a business idea. And to help and support in getting that idea launched."

What's key to the program, however, is that the assistance won't just be monetary, she said.

"The funds are important, but probably what is important about the approach that this lending organization will take is that there's a very close working relationship between .. the staff of the micro lending fund and the borrower of the fund," said McLean-Wile, adding, "that relationship becomes critical in supporting, nurturing and encouraging entrepreneurial activity.

"Sometimes people aren't as courageous or as confident about their idea and they really need people around them that can help support and, you know, encourage them, in a way that helps them to get that idea developed to a stage where they're ready to launch into a business. Or they're ready to go to make a presentation to a bank or a lending institution or some other agency to get funds. Or just to get the business launched."

"So, the money's important, but the relationship between the organization, and the staff there, and the borrower is really, I think, unique. And it's critical to the success of the business idea," said McLean-Wile.

The LCCF is a charitable, non-partisan, community-led organization supporting initiatives that sustain and improve the quality of life in Lunenburg County through research, granting funds and partnerships.

McLean-Wile anticipates there will be two staff members in the micro-lending fund operation initially: the executive director and a support staff member.

The LCCF plans to establish an advisory committee to help choose an executive director for the lending fund.

"We're recruiting for that as well. These would be volunteers from the community who would be willing to serve as an advisory group to the executive director," said McLean-Wile.

She said the committee would come under the LCCF and, as well as choosing an executive director, it will be there as "a sounding board for ideas and a representative voice from the community. Because this is really about local money helping local people."

The deadline for applications for the executive director position is Jan 23. For more information, go to: http://www.lunenburgcountycommunityfund.ca/jobposting.html

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