Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Western Economic Diversification Canada (the department) would like to thank all the key informants, EDP clients and focus group participants who generously gave their time and knowledge to take part in the study. Without their participation and their insights, this report would not have been possible. The department also acknowledges the work done by Meyers Norris Penny in conducting the key informant interviews, client surveys, comparative analysis and focus groups for the evaluation.

Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program (EDP)

The Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program (EDP) and the Urban Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Initiative (UEDI) was created in 1997-98 in response to the Access to Business Opportunities project and the 1996 report of the Federal Task Force on Disabilities which identified employment as a major issue that can alleviate the high incidences of poverty among people with disabilities.

The EDP and the UEDI programs were consolidated into one program during the 2005-06 renewal process based on the recommendations from a 2005 program evaluation study. The evaluation study concluded that there was significant need for these programs and that the programs had been successful. The study recognized that since the program’s inception, 765 loans totaling $16.2 million had been issued to clients under both programs across the West.

The EDP provides western Canadians with disabilities with access to business information, training and development, mentoring with one-on-one counselling services, and financing in pursuit of self-employment and entrepreneurship. The EDP makes it easier for entrepreneurs who have a disability to pursue their business goals and contribute to the economic growth of their communities. Entrepreneurs meeting the following basic criteria are considered for support:

  • have been unsuccessful in acquiring funding for business from other sources;
  • are restricted in the ability to perform at least one of the basic activities of entrepreneurship or self-employment;
  • are disabled due to physical or mental impairment;
  • have a viable business plan and are a new or current small business owner with a disability; and
  • reside in Western Canada.

The program provides entrepreneurs with disabilities who are unable to obtain financing from a traditional financial institution access to business loans. The types of projects supported by this program include:

  • starting or expanding a business;
  • purchasing and applying new technology;
  • upgrading facilities and equipment;
  • developing marketing and promotions materials; and
  • establishing working capital for anticipated sales increases.

Since the initial loan funds were established at the beginning of the program, continued funding from the department has mainly been in the form of operating funds to third parties to assist in the delivery of the program.

The EDP is delivered in both rural and urban communities in Western Canada. In rural communities, small business loans and services for EDP clients are provided through the Community Futures Organizations. The department provides the four Provincial Community Futures Association2 with operating funds to support Community Futures Organizations with resources that enable them to provide clients with specialized support, training/coaching and loans, and to undertake specific projects to improve overall capacity in rural areas.

In urban areas in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg, the department works with a number of organizations by providing them with operating funds to deliver the program. Clients are provided with specialized counseling and support as well as small business loans.

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2005 EDP Program Renewal

Based on the results of the 2005 evaluation, consultations with the delivery organizations, and WD’s analysis, a decision was made to:

  • consolidate UEDI and EDP into one;
  • extend the program for five more years;
  • increase funding for the program from $775,000 to $1.5 million annually - $7.7 million over five years (operating funds);
  • adopt common data/performance management indicators; and
  • put a management information system in place to track performance data.

The increase in funding was meant to enable partners to enhance the awareness of the program, screen candidates, improve loan pre and post-care (to reduce loan loss rates), and provide training and mentoring. The five-year renewal was approved in 2006-07.

Scope and Objectives of the Evaluation

The 2009 Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation calls for departments to develop a 5-year plan to cover 100% of programs spending in a five-year life cycle. It is in this context that an evaluation of the EDP was included in the approved departmental Five-Year Evaluation Plan (2009-14). This engagement conforms to the 2009 Evaluation Policy, Directive and Standards contained therein as approved by the Treasury Board of Canada.

The EDP program was evaluated in 1999 and 2005. The scope of the current evaluation encompassed:

  • The time period from 2005-06 to the third quarter of 2010-11 fiscal years;
  • All departmental investments in the EDP within the evaluation period;
  • Both models of rural and urban delivery of the EDP; and
  • All of the major activities, operations and systems utilized in the management and administration of the EDP.

This evaluation focused on the EDP’s relevance and performance (efficiency, effectiveness, and economy) with regards to its activities, outputs and outcomes.

Organization of the Report

The report is organized as follows:

Executive Summary

Section 1: Introduction
Section 2: Overview of EDP Partners and EDP EDP Funding
Section 3: Methodology
Section 4: Relevance
Section 5: Performance (Achievement of Objectives)
Section 6: Performance (Demonstration of Efficiency and Economy)
Section 7: Recommendations