Fonds Emergence Estrie microcredit balances business and community

By Geoff Agombar – Local Journalism Initiative
Fonds Emergence Estrie microcredit balances business and community

“We see ourselves as a catalyst. The element that will initiate the reaction,” says Fonds Emergence Estrie President Marc-André Casault.

The Fonds Émergence Estrie has a two-fold mission, financing and management support for the creation and development of businesses in the region.

Loans up to $20,000 can support new start-ups, or the growth, development and restructuring of existing businesses. But loans are just one aspect of the service.

“We accompany and finance entrepreneurs who are eager to start or build a business. We don’t have many criteria except we want to accompany someone who is willing to be coached and who is not really bankable.”

In its first six years, the non-profit, social impact financing fund has accompanied over 450 entrepreneurs in Sherbrooke and the Eastern Townships. Over 50 entrepreneurs have received loans totaling over $400,000, stimulating a total investment over $2 million. So, on average Fonds Emergence Estrie loans have attracted additional investment at a 5:1 ratio.

“We do financial engineering. That’s our specialty, actually. To find the money that’s required for the project,” says Casault. “We’re very seldom the only one to finance the project.”

“Even if you just need $20,000, we’ll try and find another source to mitigate our risk,” Casault explains. “Let’s say your project is just $20,000. Ok, we’ll put up $15,000 and you go do a crowdfunding operation with La Ruche. Get $10,000 from La Ruche and you’ll validate that there’s demand for your project, and we’ll complete the financing that’s required.”

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