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Cambridge Bay's EDO helps residents get businesses off the ground

Nunavummiut with a dream to start a business have plenty of resources.

A common first stop is at the office of the community's economic development officer.

Angela Gerbrandt, economic development officer for the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay, helps entrepreneurs put together their business plan and find financing to get ventures off the ground. photo courtesy of the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay

In Cambridge Bay, that's Angela Gerbrandt.

The first thing she'll ask is whether a business plan has been prepared. If not, she has a 40-page document asking many basic questions: What type of business is it? Who's the target market? How will the marketing be done? What are the revenue streams?

Upon completing and returning the questionnaire, she will actually write the business plan for the client, which usually takes about five to six hours.

She then reviews potential funding sources, aiming to find grants from the government that don't need to be repaid. If grants don't cover the full amount needed for start-up, she's forced to look at lending institutions.

The thought of taking on a business loan is intimidating for some potential clients, Gerbrandt acknowledged.

“For most people it's almost overwhelming this idea of starting a business,” she said, adding that she's looking into developing co-ops – groups of people who can share the responsibility of launching and running a venture.

Generally, the proprietor would need to have 10-20 per cent of the value of the business up front. This can be in the form of cash or collateral, such as a vehicle.

It's up to the client to make the trip to the lending institution, sometimes a bank, to finalize the loan.

“I'd be happy to introduce you. I'd be happy to give you whatever paperwork you need. I do all the printing, faxing, whatever, but I can't sign (for the loan). It's your business,” Gerbrandt said, noting that she has had great experiences with referrals to the First Nations Bank of Canada in Yellowknife. “They are very savvy. They're super-well connected. I can't tell them anything they don't know already.”

Should the financing be approved, the individual would need to obtain a business licence, which costs $50-$150 per year in Cambridge Bay, depending on the size of the business. For a home-based business, it would also entail making clear to hamlet council and administration how much traffic will be generated.

“Basically they want to know if you're going to have 200 cars go across the road to your house to buy something or whether you're going to deliver,” Gerbrandt explained, adding that council will aim to minimize disruptions to residents' everyday lives.

Another requirement is a compliance letter from the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission, which assesses safety requirements.

The entire process of starting a business generally takes about three months, according to Gerbrandt.

According to data from the Government of Canada, approximately 64 per cent of businesses with one or more employees survive through five years.

Fact file
Business assistance agencies in Nunavut
Atuqtuarvik Corporation (Rankin Inlet)
Baffin Business Development Corporation (Iqaluit)
Canada-Nunavut Business Service Centre (Iqaluit)
Chambers of Commerce (Iqaluit, Baffin, Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay)
Kakivak Association (Iqaluit)
Kitikmeot Community Futures Inc (Cambridge Bay)
Kivalliq Business Development Centre (Rankin Inlet)
Kivalliq Partners in Development (Rankin Inlet)
Nunavut Business Credit Corporation (Iqaluit)
Nunavut Development Corporation (Rankin Inlet)
Nunavut Economic Developers Association (Iqaluit)

Fact file
The Department of Economic Development and Transportation's Small Business Support Program offers three funds:

Small Business Opportunities Fund
-assists business start-ups and expansions
-supports marketing plans and business development
-also supports pilot projects and "wind-down"

Entrepreneur Development Fund
-aids businesses through training and skill development
- accounting, bookkeeping, business start-up, tourism safety and risk management are among areas of training
-offers business aftercare programs

Sustainable Livelihood Fund
-supports tourism, arts and crafts and harvesting sectors
-help to overcome legal or bookkeeping issues
-supports the purchase of tools and other minor capital items
-helps cover tourism operators' liability insurance
Source: Government of Nunavut

Fact file
Business licences issued
While some hamlets issue their own, this is the number of business licences that the Department of Community and Government Services' consumer affairs division has approved over the past five years:
2014-15 – 82
2015-16 – 80
2016-17 – 85
2017-18 – 93
2018-19 – 95
Source: Department of Community and Government Services