Money is a big barrier to many of us who want to explore the route to self employment or small business ownership. We are lucky to have financial institutions in town (thank you Vancity!) who understand that having a lack of access to funds simply means that first step can be out of reach.
As a Groundswell program participant or alumni, you can access scholarships and financing which can be used together to make tuition payments simple and accessible, as well as low interest seed funding to launch and grow your small business.
Special thanks to our funders and donors for your support in making Groundswell more accessible!
Scholarships are available for all of our social entrepreneurship programs for individuals from underrepresented groups (eg. BIPOC and trans folks), as well as people with disabilities and low-income inner city residents. As a show of commitment and to have some skin in the game, scholarships can cover up to 10 - 50% of program tuition. The remaining tuition is eligible for microfinancing through our partnership with Vancity, see more info on that below.
Indicate your eligibility or interest for a scholarship when you apply for any Groundswell program . Scholarships are dispersed based on intersectional identity or needs and according to the amount of scholarship funding available.
What is a microloan anyway? It’s a small, low-interest loan.
Vancity-Groundswell microloans are especially for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs with great ideas and limited resources, people who are new to Canada, and people who are looking to repair their credit history.
After completing the Build or Test Market program, Groundswell alumni can access up to $50,000 for start-up costs, with the same no fee, low interest terms.
When do I have to pay the money back?
A payment schedule will be created with you taking your budget and entrepreneurial plans into consideration. Normally the repayment is done over five years with a set payment every month. If you would like to pay the loan back earlier, that’s ok too!
How much are monthly payments?
The payments will be the same amount every month and depends on the interest rate and amount you borrow. For example, a three year microloan for $3500 will have a payment of about $100 per month. Please consider using this loan calculator to see how much your payment could be on the amount you wish to borrow.
What is the interest?
Prime + 3% (for example, prime was 3.95 in April 2019)
Are there any other costs associated with the microloan?
No. There is no application fee, or prepayment penalty. You can pay off the loan anytime.
Will this affect my credit rating?
The first tenet of Vancity’s microfinancing program is, “Do no harm”. These microloans are designed to improve your credit rating, not damage it. They are normally spread over 12 to 60 months depending on your budget. It is our goal to support you in creating good financial stability for yourself. If you find yourself struggling with your payment, your credit rating could be negatively affected, so please let us know and we’ll find a solution together.
How does it work?
New program participants:
Follow the link in your acceptance email or follow the steps outlined here.
Together we assemble the required documents and Groundswell sends the application to our contact at Vancity for review.
Upon approval, you will be asked to visit a Vancity branch in your neighbourhood to open an account and sign the agreement.
Email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org