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Terms and Conditions for the Women’s Enterprise Initiative Contribution Program

Effective: October 1, 2009

1. Legal Policies:

In accordance with section 6(3) of the Western Economic Diversification Act, the Minister may, in accordance with the terms and conditions approved by the Treasury Board, make grants and contributions, in support of programs and projects undertaken by the Minister.

2. Purpose and Objectives of the Program:

The purpose of funding provided by the Women’s Enterprise Initiative (WEI) program is to encourage the establishment and growth of women-owned and controlled businesses, encourage self-employment and business development, and to promote economic equality between men and women. The objectives of the program are to:

  • Introduce and promote the concept of entrepreneurship to women;
  • Increase the availability of capital to women-owned enterprises; and
  • Provide services to help women develop the experience, expertise, assets and credit track records enabling them to increase both the number and strength of women-owned businesses in Western Canada.

The program contributes to Western Economic Diversification Canada’s (WD) strategic outcome of creating a competitive, expanded and diversified business sector in Western Canada.

Expected results of funding under the WEI include outcomes such as:

Increase in productivity

  • Jobs either created or maintained
  • The creation, maintenance or expansion of business

Increased investment to targeted western Canadian firms

 

  • Dollars leveraged
  • Increase in sales
  • Jobs either created or maintained
  • The creation, maintenance or expansion of business

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3. Eligible Recipients

Eligible recipients are Women’s Enterprise Centres (WECs), defined as legally incorporated non-profit organizations authorized by the Minister (or delegated authority) to constitute an organization for participation under the WEI established in each of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

The WECs will further distribute the funding in the form of loans to third parties in accordance with Appendix A.  To be eligible for a loan, an applicant (Ultimate Recipient) must:

  1. Be a legal entity; and
  2. Be a woman or be an operation owned or controlled by a woman or women; and
  3. Be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, or a legal entity owned and controlled by a Canadian citizen or citizens or a landed immigrant or immigrants; and
  4. Be operating or about to operate in Western Canada.

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4. Eligible Activities:

To achieve the objectives of the WEI, WECs will receive support to engage in the following activities:

  1. Delivering a range of accessible business, advisory, training and information services to women thinking about starting a business as well as businesses owned and controlled by women who want to expand their businesses.

  2. Providing access to capital to assist existing women owned and controlled businesses or to help women entrepreneurs to create new businesses.

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5. Eligible Expenditures:

Eligible costs are those that are considered reasonable, incremental and directly attributable to activities necessary to achieve desired results and may include the following:

Operating and Service Delivery:

  • Rents, leases, leasehold improvements;
  • Personnel: salary and benefits;
  • Staff and Director training and development;
  • Marketing;
  • Operations and maintenance;
  • Equipment purchase and leases;
  • Information management and information technology acquisitions;
  • Legal, administrative, accounting, licensing, permits;
  • Consulting fees;
  • Research fees;
  • Bank charges, insurance, fees, taxes;
  • Supplies, transportation; and/or
  • Costs associated with the implementation of projects in support of women entrepreneurs identified by WECs as integral to their strategic plans and/or to advance the interests of women entrepreneurs.

Loan Funds:

  • Costs associated with establishing and maintaining Loan Funds as described in Appendix A such as creation and/or replenishment of Loan Funds and costs associated with the collection of problem loans or recovery of bad loans, and/or
  • Administration costs related to Loan Funds.

Loan Fund means all monies, securities and other assets held by the WEC, in accordance with Appendix A, including:

  • All amounts credited to the Loan Fund under Section 5;
  • All amounts credited to the Loan Fund from all previous contributions made by the Government of Canada in respect of its Loan Fund pursuant to a previous agreement under the Women’s Enterprise Centre program;
  • All repayments, including interest, to the Loan Fund; and
  • Less any losses incurred through operation of the Loan Fund and any amounts transferred from the Loan Fund as permitted by Appendix A Section 1(viii).

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6. Government Assistance:

Total Government Assistance (stacking level) under the program will be up to 100 per cent of the amount required to operate and deliver services, and maintain a Loan Fund.

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7. Amount of Funding:

Funding for contributions under the program will be determined based on the minimum level required to ensure that the projects further the attainment of program objectives and expected results. The assessment of the required level will take into consideration demonstrated need for the funding and all other sources of funding available to the recipient, including Loan Fund repayments and interest earnings as well as losses incurred as a result of the lending activity.

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8. Maximum Amounts and Special Conditions:

The maximum total amount of a contribution to a WEC for a Loan Fund over the duration of its existence is $7.5 million. The Loan Fund includes all previous contributions made to the WEC in respect of its Loan Fund pursuant to any and all previous agreements between WD and the WEC.

The maximum annual amount of a contribution to a WEC for operating and service delivery costs under these terms and conditions will not exceed $1.5 million.

The Board of Directors of each WEC, or their delegates, will have authority to approve loans from the Loan Fund not to exceed a total of $150,000 per loan.

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9. Requests for Funding and Contribution Payments

In support of a request for funding the WEC will prepare an annual plan, or a multi-year plan with annual updates, to be prepared on operating, service delivery and Loan Fund activities of the WEC for their upcoming fiscal year. The plan will include a statement of the measurable objectives and targeted results of activities for the upcoming year, the strategy the WEC intends to employ to achieve those results, and a budget plan for the upcoming year. WEC loan fund payments must take into account existing funds available for lending and forecasted loan repayments.

The plan will also include:

  • Disclosure of lobbyists involvement where applicable;
  • Involvement of former public servants or public office holders; and/or
  • Any other information that WD requires to assess the request for incremental loan funds.

Payments will be made on the basis of fulfilment of conditions specified in the contribution agreement and the following:

  1. On the basis of documented claims for eligible costs incurred and paid and/or the fulfillment of conditions specified in the contribution agreement being met; or

  2. Achievement of pre-determined performance expectations or milestones as detailed in the Agreement. Standard performance expectations will be as defined in the WD’s Program Activity Architecture.

The criteria to assess applications is defined in WD’s systems and guidelines and examines the following aspects of the funding application:

  • Eligibility
  • Viability
  • Incrementality
  • Resources
  • Results
  • Risks and mitigation measures

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10. Official Languages Act:

In support of building a society which is respectful of Canada's linguistic duality, in cases where this funding supports activities that benefit members of both official language communities:

  1. Its design and delivery will respect the obligations of the Government of Canada as set out in Part VII of the Official Languages Act through consultation with the Official Language Minority Community; and

  2. Where appropriate, equitable services and benefits will be made available in both official languages either directly through the funded activities or through an alternative arrangement, in compliance with the Official Languages Act.

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11. Contributions to be further distributed:

Funding provided through these contributions for Loan Funds will be further distributed to women entrepreneurs in the form of loans in accordance with terms and conditions set out in a Contribution Agreement with each WEC.  The responsibility for the assessment, approval, distribution and collection of loans rests with the WEC in the province where the project will be carried out.

The WECs are independent entities that have their own Boards of Directors with broad representation from their respective provinces.  An Executive Director is responsible for administrative and operational duties of each provincial WEC organization.  The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors, which oversees the policy and direction of the organization.  Board members are knowledgeable about business, financing and the challenges that women face as entrepreneurs.

The Contribution Agreement for the provision of Loan Funds will clearly define the relationship between WD and the WECs to ensure that they maintain independence and will not be seen to be acting as an agent of the government.

Further requirements related to the Loan Funds to be further distributed to women entrepreneurs are listed in Appendix A.

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12. Contributions:

WECs may receive non-repayable contributions to offset general operating and service delivery costs and to establish and support Loan Funds.

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Appendix A - Loan Fund Administration

1. Loans will be provided from the Loan Funds according to these terms and conditions. All applications for assistance will be assessed for their potential to provide benefits to Western Canada in terms of employment creation, the development of women owned or controlled businesses, and strengthening the western Canadian economy. The funds will operate in the following manner:

  1. The responsibility for the assessment of applications rests with the Women’s Enterprise Centres (WEC) in the province where the project will be carried out.

  2. The responsibility for assessing and approving loan applications will rest with the Board of Directors of each WEC.  The Board of Directors or its delegates is solely authorized to evaluate and approve loan applications.

  3. Each WEC will have authority to approve loans from the Loan Fund with repayment periods not to exceed fifteen years.

  4. Each WEC will have authority to approve loans from the Loan Fund not to exceed a total of $150,000 per borrower.

  5. All applications to the Loan Funds must be accompanied by a business plan demonstrating the potential for commercial viability and loan repayment.

  6. Loans received by the borrower shall be used to cover only the eligible costs as indicated in the loan agreement or by an approved amendment.
  7. An interest rate on loans will be established from time to time by each WEC.  It shall not be less than the Bank of Canada three (3) month Treasury Bill monthly rate established at that time.

  8. Funds advanced to each WEC in respect of operating costs and Loan Fund Capitalization costs shall be deposited and maintained in two separate accounts.  Funds credited to the Loan Fund shall not be used for purposes other than Loan Fund activities without the prior written approval of the Minister.  Interest received on the Loan Fund will be kept in the Loan Fund to be used for additional loans to clients or to offset Loan Fund losses.

  9. Amounts repaid by borrowers will be paid to the WEC that provided the loan, and remain part of its Loan Fund.

  10. The Board of Directors of each WEC will ensure that best efforts have been made to access other sources of government or commercial financing for any project prior to providing a loan from the Loan Fund.

  11. Each WEC must establish by laws, policies and procedures to administer their Loan Fund, including conflict of interest policies.