At 22 years old, Rob Price was a budding entrepreneur on a mission: Find Capital. Price wanted to buy into a franchise bike shop; he had the know-how, the drive and the desire, he just didn’t have the funding.
“I was 22 years old schlepping around to the banks trying to find money and someone put to put their hand up and say ‘ok kid, we’ll jump in.’” says Price. “I got kicked out of a lot of offices. I went around tons and tons of branches, I got a lot of no’s and doors slammed in my face, until I finally hit on one that put their hand up and said ‘ok.’”
A few (or more) years later, that budding entrepreneur became the Alberta Director of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. As such, Price is now in a position to put his hand up and say ok to potential entrepreneurs.
The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping aspiring young entrepreneurs succeed in the business world, from developing ideas to launching their first business. CYBF provides support to young entrepreneurs in several ways.
The CYBF website offers handy online tools, such as the Business Plan Writer, which aids in the process of building a business plan.
“The business plan writer is excellent. I know of other organizations that have their own that will often times direct their clients to our template because they like it better,” says Price with a laugh.
Another great tool is their Excel spreadsheet template. Just because a person wants to be in business doesn’t necessarily mean that math is their strong suit. In comes the excel spreadsheet that helps make sense of the finances, and does some of the calculations for you – no more running around with a pencil and calculator.
Once the planning is complete, the application process begins. The entrepreneur submits their personal profile, including credit report and business plan. Once the application is received, CYBF goes over the plan with the prospective entrepreneur, polishing their plan a little further so that by the time the application gets put before the adjudication team, they have the highest chance of getting approved.
CYBF has a partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). While CYBF has a $15,000 cap on their loans, the BDC will double what CYBF grants; which means that budding young entrepreneurs can get up to $45,000 through the CYBF process.
“The BDC believes in the rigor of our process enough that if we say ‘ok’ and have signed off on it then the BDC does as well. The entrepreneur doesn’t have to go into another office or do anything else. There is a couple of extra pieces of paper to sign for the BDC loan, but that’s it,” says Price.
Around the same time that the newly financed entrepreneur gets their cheque, they also get matched with a mentor. Mentors are volunteers that have put in their time in the business world, they know the ups and downs and are usually in the same industry. They mentor the entrepreneurs for two years, and are what Price believes the secret to CYBF’s success.
“We have a higher than normal success rate. I believe it is largely due to this volunteer mentor program that we have. It’s something that’s unique. There are other programs that have similarities to ours, but none that bring a mentor along for a two year engagement like we do,” Price says with pride.
Success is something CYBF has shown across the country. CYBF boasts over 4,500 volunteers helping more than 5,500 young entrepreneurs across Canada, whose businesses have created over 23,000 new jobs and over 163 million dollars in tax revenue.
It is not only the success of CYBF or the mentorship program that Price is proud of, but also the lending process, and being able to put his hand up and say ‘yes’ to a young entrepreneur.
“We are 100% character-based lending, not collateral- based,” says Price. “Even if someone needs more than our $45,000, we’re a great first step. We could be the first domino to fall that starts to knock all the other dominoes in line. We have a saying here: at some point in every successful person’s career someone said ‘I believe in you.’”