by DAVID SCHMIDT
ABBOTSFORD – The first thing farmers and agri-businesses need to do when trying to obtain financing for a new project is to develop a plan.
That’s the first place the BC Ministry of Agriculture can help, BCMA partnerships and outreach manager Lindsay Bisschop told the Fraser Valley chapter of the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors at their meeting in Abbotsford, October 16.
The new BC Agri-business Planning Program builds on the Growing Forward 2 business planning program. It provides up to $5,000 for individuals and up to $30,000 for groups to hire qualified business consultants to provide specialized business planning. This includes developing a business strategy and a financial analysis of new production or processing ventures.
Having a well-developed plan is critical when approaching potential financiers.
“If you’re trying to get others to invest, make sure you have a solid plan,” says George Stefan, Fraser Valley leader of funding incentives and SRED (Scientific Research & Experimental Development) at PWC, a major international accounting and business consulting firm.
“Have your financial plans organized. It makes a good first impression,” adds Caterina Papadakos, western Canada director of Espresso Capital.
Scotiabank senior client relationship manager Amarjit Pandhar seconds that advice, noting “the more information you provide, the quicker the process will go.”
Espresso is a “venture-debt fund” which provides $500,000 to $10 million for technology-based companies.
“Our funding is like a line of credit,” Papadakos explains. “We want to fund sustainable, growing businesses,” she says, noting subscription-based (e.g. where a customer pays for a service on a regular basis) or refundable grant (e.g. SRED) programs are easiest to fund.
Scotiabank offers more wide-ranging financing, Pandhar noting “we customize everything.”
He admits start-ups are most challenging since there is “no history,” adding working capital is another area many customers fall short on.
Stefan believes “most plans are incomplete” which is why he urges them to work with PWC or other consultants to flesh them out.
“If you think you’re not getting good advice, get a second opinion,” he says.
Stefan says the biggest pitfalls in preparing a business plan is that people “are not dreaming big enough,” do not involve enough people in preparing their plan and do not start early enough.
He notes many grant programs require approval of the applications before any shovels hit the ground.
The agri-business planning program is just the start of what is available, Bisschop notes. Other government programs include the BC Agri-foods Marketing Partnership Program, Buy BC and the new Canada-BC Agri-Innovation program, all delivered by Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC in conjunction with the BCMA.
Bisschop says the ministry is trying to get better at communicating what they have to offer.
“We don’t want leave our money on the table.”
Vol. 104 Issue 11
STORIES IN THIS EDITION
Province boosts ag spending
It’s a draw!
Editorial: Vice grip
Back Forty: Snow days make good days for seed selection
Viewpoint: Farmers need to prepare for annual snow melt
Smooth start to season as foreign workers arrive
Sidebar: Province mulls piece rates
Late winter has some Okanagan growers on edge
Ag show attracts near-record attendance
Ag Briefs: Traceability funding available for producers
Ag Briefs: Cattlemen’s launches webinar series
Ag Briefs: Grant winner announced
Labour remains a priority for fruit growers
Dairy, aquaculture take home awards at gala
Farmers need to prepare for uncertainty
Ag critic listens to concerns at farmers’ institute
Growers are responsible for workers’ safety
Robotic milkers sized up during dairy tour
Safe, high-quality silage depends on preparation
Diversification makes orchard a landmark
Ranchers need to match forage with herd needs
Producers question new Indigenous rights law
Hosting TRU students a way to give back
Livestock co-op provides selling, buying options
Sidebar: Market set to stay steady
Research: Bluetongue outbreaks expected to increase
Filling a niche for gourmet mushrooms
Regulations, housing key issues in Langley
Sheep producers seeing value in genetic program
Above and beyond
Vegetation fundamental to farms, landscape
Studies continue on forage, corn crop pests
4-H BC leader singled out
Growers go with the grain of beer revival
Agri-tourism has plenty of room for growth
Rose stem girdler poses threat to cranberries
Site prep critical for healthy hazelnut orchards
Sidebar: BC renewal program opens up
Wannabe: Renewal comes with a new generation of farmers
Woodshed: Deborah and Doug McLeod turn up the heat
A good place to meet up
Jude’s Kitchen: Celebrate spring by eating outside