In January 2021, the West Kootenay Boundary Community Investment Cooperative (WKBCIC) announced a six-month Pilot Project of a Micro-loan Fund to assist small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).  WKBCIC has earmarked $30,000 to be made available for individual micro-loans ranging from $1,000 to $3,500. 

The WKBCIC is collaborating with KAST to provide micro-loan opportunities to clients of the Digital Economy: Rapid Response & Resiliency (DER3) program being administered by KAST in partnership with Innovate BC and Western Economic Diversification.  

“[The] launch of the Micro-loan Fund Pilot Project and the collaboration with KAST will help small and medium-sized businesses compete during these unprecedented times,” said Erika Krest of the WKBCIC. “This not only enables us to bridge the gap by providing loan opportunities to help round out the DER3 program administered by KAST, but we are also pleased to know that we are helping to grow or expand businesses’ online presence, enabling them to become more efficient, competitive and resilient in their own economic recovery efforts. It is something we are excited about and a win-win across our West Kootenay and Boundary communities.” 

“It has been a privilege for KAST to provide support to Kootenay businesses dealing with challenges brought about by COVID-19,” said Sean Smillie, Executive Director of KAST. “Partnering with the WKBCIC not only adds a vital funding opportunity into the DER3 process for our clients, but further showcases how local support and collaboration will keep the West Kootenays thriving.”

The DER3 is a no cost or obligation program designed to help small to medium sized businesses in the Kootenays adapt to COVID-19 and enter or expand into the digital economy. The DER3 program currently provides all components to help businesses and entrepreneurs, except for the funds needed by a business to hire a digital service provider (if one is needed) to perform the work outlined by the DER3 team. The WKBCIC will provide micro-loans to businesses and entrepreneurs to bridge this gap. If the applicant is a member of a West Kootenay Boundary Region Chamber of Commerce, the micro-loan application fee will be waived.

An evaluation of the Micro-loan Pilot Project will be completed at the end of six months by the WKBCIC board of directors who will decide whether it should be continued and established as an ongoing loan program offered by the co-op.

Businesses in the West Kootenay region who want to learn more about the DER3 program should visit www.kast.com/der3/. DER3 clients will be able to apply to the Micro-loan Fund as part of the DER3 program. Intake for DER3 closes on March 10, 2021 so applicants are encouraged to apply ASAP.

About West Kootenay Boundary Community Investment Cooperative:

The WKBCIC is a for-profit Co-operative Association registered in British Columbia. WKBCIC is member-owned, locally controlled and governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The co-op finances businesses located in the West Kootenay Boundary regions and the surrounding communities of Grand Forks-Boundary, Trail-Rossland, Nelson-Castlegar, Slocan, and Arrow and Upper Kootenay Lakes.

About the Digital Economy: Rapid Response & Resiliency (DER3) Program:

In April 2020, Island Coastal Economic Trust and Innovation Island Technology Association created and launched the DER3 program. It was created to tackle the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Following the success on Vancouver Island, the program was extended with funding support from Western Economic Diversification and through Innovate BC. Five additional BC Acceleration Network partners (an alliance of regional partners and executive-level mentors) were then trained, including KAST, and the DER3 program was scaled across the province.

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