Starting a new business can be terrifying, and branching out for an established company can also be a gamble, raising questions like “will people be interested in my product?” “Will I have any customers?” and, “How will I pay for all this?” Knowing that those challenges exist, more than a few groups have popped up in recent years aiming to make the experience a little less daunting. On the local level La Ruche is a non-profit organization that is changing the face of funding for businesses in Quebec. “La Ruche is in place to stimulate the growth of local industries using proximity crowdfunding,” explained the director of the Estrie division of the organization, Véronique Vigneault. “Projects and new businesses are funded by and for the community.” But what is crowdfunding exactly? According to Vigneault, it is a system that finances businesses using small amounts of money donated by community members. Similar funding programs, such as GoFundMe or Kickstarter, have grown popular over recent years, allowing community-driven projects to develop into global success stories. La Ruche, founded in Quebec in 2013, takes the model in a different direction by focusing on “proximity crowdfunding”. See full story in the Wednesday, May 9th edition of The Record.