The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) today announced that it is setting aside $200 million for loans to help entrepreneurs gear up with information and communications technology (ICT). The BDC President announced this new initiative for the launch of Small Business Week®, which is running from October 16 to 22 under the theme “Power up your business. Invest. INNOVATE. Grow.” “We now know that ICT has a very real impact on small business productivity, innovation and competitiveness. In fact, much of the productivity problem in Canada can be attributed to insufficient investments in technology,” explained Jean-René Halde, BDC President and Chief Executive Officer. “BDC is not claiming that it can solve this problem alone, but we believe that with our support a large number of entrepreneurs can get funds and consulting services to help them better integrate ICT more efficiently in their business model.”
“Our government is pleased to announce this initiative as part of its digital economy strategy, which aims to make Canada a global leader. Greater adoption of digital technologies is a key element of our strategy, and their use is an effective driver of productivity and innovation across every sector,” said the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry. “We are committed to ensuring that the right conditions are in place for businesses to succeed, as they continue to create jobs and strengthen our economy.”
This represents a significant milestone in the government’s digital economy strategy, a multi-faceted effort to position Canada as a leading innovator, adopter and user of game-changing information and telecommunications technologies. Initiatives such as this that facilitate the uptake and use of digital technologies will increasingly determine success in the global economy.
Both BDC client and non-client companies, including small businesses such as individual or home offices, may apply for a loan from this ICT initiative. BDC will speed up and simplify the processing of these applications.
“To finance investments in ICT, entrepreneurs normally use short-term financing, which quickly reduces the company’s working capital,” explained Halde. “With this $200 million that BDC is earmarking for investments in ICT, entrepreneurs may pay back the loans over the medium term, which protects the company’s working capital.”
The loans can be used to purchase hardware, software and consulting services including Internet solutions to boost online sales.
“For these types of loans, BDC is taking on more risk because of the intangible nature of the assets securing these loans,” added Halde. “If this initiative helps entrepreneurs invest in their productivity and innovate and grow, it will prove to be a good investment.”
Entrepreneurs with ICT projects that do not exceed $50,000 must submit their loan applications online. Companies that need more than $50,000 can contact the BDC business centre in their area, apply online or call BDC customer service at 1 877 BDC BANX (232-2269).
To help entrepreneurs use ICT efficiently in their companies, BDC has also launched its new Smart Tech online resource centre that offers a wide array of technology tools for small businesses.
Smart Tech features solutions specifically designed to meet small business needs, and, more specifically, to boost their productivity and accelerate their growth. Through Smart Tech’s different modules, entrepreneurs can access tools and services that will help them learn more about the products available in the marketplace, identify the technologies that would be most useful to their business and get support in implementing them.
Entrepreneurs who visit the Smart Tech site may get a free online assessment of their website and an analysis of the effectiveness of their business technology.
“The combination of Smart Tech and BDC financing for ICT projects is one of the most extensive and low-cost solutions ever offered to small and medium-sized business owners to help them get the most out of ICT,” concluded Halde. “We hope that many of them will make the move to the technology that is now vital for entrepreneurs who want to boost their productivity and innovation.”