Youth Micro Loan Pilot to help young entrepreneurs from west-end priority
neighbourhoods start their own business

TORONTO, July 8 /CNW/ - Entrepreneurial youth living in the city's west end priority neighbourhoods have a new opportunity to start their own business with the launch of the City of Toronto's new Youth Micro Loan Pilot project.

Mayor David Miller; John Lahey, President and CEO, Alterna Savings; Keiko Nakamura, CEO, Toronto Community Housing Corporation; Rahul K. Bhardwaj, President and CEO, Toronto Community Foundation; Laurie-Shawn Borzovoy, Chair, Board of Directors, UrbanArts Community Arts Council; several representatives from other community partner organizations; and interested youth celebrated the launch of the new pilot inside a downtown branch of Alterna Savings.

The one-year project, funded by the City of Toronto in partnership with Toronto Community Foundation, Toronto Community Housing and Alterna Savings, will provide youth entrepreneurs with life skills coaching, business development training, one-on-one business mentoring and access to a business loan of up to $5,000 for qualified participants. Youth will also receive post-loan support, access to a touchdown station, networking opportunities and other supports specific to their economic circumstance, such as child care, TTC tickets and refreshments.

"Together, we have created a culturally relevant, real-world form of business development support that will help these young entrepreneurs generate prosperity," said Mayor David Miller. "We are committed - through the Youth Micro Loan Pilot project - to helping our youth develop the skills, capital, access and networks needed to successfully launch their own businesses."

"Toronto Community Housing is pleased to support the Youth Micro Loan Pilot. It will advance community economic development by connecting tenants to small business development opportunities with a particular focus on youth entrepreneurship. This will help create sustainable tenant income and bring about economic and social renewal of communities where we operate and where tenants live," said Keiko Nakamura, Chief Executive Officer of Toronto Community Housing.

The service delivery providers of the program are Alterna Savings, UrbanArts Community Arts Council, Knowledge Equals Youth Success (KEYS), Dixon Hall, Urban Financial Services Coalition and Money Minds & Common Cents (MC2).

"Alterna Savings is proud to share its experience and expertise in community micro-lending in support of this important and innovative City of Toronto project," stated Alterna Savings' President and CEO John Lahey. "We've seen how micro-lending in support of small business development can change lives, and it's wonderful to see this program reaching out to Toronto's youth community."

"Strong and vibrant cities provide a wide variety of opportunities for secure, well-paid work. With the support of our fundholders, we are pleased to partner on a solution that will provide unemployed youth with the tools and training to evolve into entrepreneurial youth," said Rahul K. Bhardwaj, President and CEO of Toronto Community Foundation.

Advisory support will continue to be provided by Youth Challenge Fund, Laidlaw Foundation and Social Enterprise Centre for Excellence (SECE).

The idea for this type of initiative was planted back in 2007 and 2008 when Enterprise Toronto developed and delivered "Youth Biz" Workshops in the 13 priority neighbourhoods, to promote the creation of youth-run enterprises as a means of generating interest in creating self-employment opportunities.

In January 2008, Toronto City Council adopted the Agenda for Prosperity which involved a call for the exploration of self-sustaining community micro-loan funds, with a particular focus on Youth Enterprise. The Youth Micro Loan Pilot Project was born out of these models and was designed to help business-minded youth who have limited access to the financial resources become their own boss.

To participate in the pilot project interested youth must have a business or social enterprise idea and have no access to other business/enterprise funding, be between the ages of 18-24, out of school, live in a priority neighbourhood in the City's west end (Jane and Finch, Weston-Mt. Dennis, Jamestown-Rexdale, Lawrence Heights and Westminster Branson) and unemployed and not currently receiving Employment Insurance.

Interested youth can contact UrbanArts Community Arts Council at 416-241-5124 or info@urbanartstoronto.org for more information.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents. For information about non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Visit our website at www.toronto.ca

SOURCE City of Toronto

For further information: For further information: Media contact: Cher Jones, Senior Coordinator, Promotions and Communications, 416-392-5349, cjones5@toronto.ca


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