Devon Sailer 2016 Volunteer of the Year


devon and barbra 2016Community Futures Central Okanagan Past Chairperson Barbra Johnston presents Devon Sailer with the volunteer award.


For Immediate Release April 11, 2016

Community Futures recognizes 2016 Volunteer of the Year

From April 10 to 16, Volunteer Canada and Community Futures Central Okanagan are celebrating Canada’s 12.7 million volunteers during National Volunteer Week. This year marks the 13th year Volunteer Canada has delivered the campaign in partnership with Investors Group, a longstanding supporter of National Volunteer Week.

The Community Futures 2016 Volunteer of the Year is Devon Sailer. Community Futures Central Okanagan wishes to recognize Devon because he has actively volunteered and participated at Community Futures on the Youth Means Business Advisory Committee, Entrepreneurship Committee, Loan Committee and Board of Directors. In 2015, Devon was elected to be Chairperson. Devon’s rise to the top of the Community Futures in Central Okanagan can be attributed to his keen personality, business analysis ability, exceptional business knowledge and dedication to the organization.

Community Futures is a small business development organization – based in the community and for the community. We offer local assistance from experts who live in the same communities as our clients, and have 34 offices throughout rural BC. Our wide variety of services and tools are designed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve their goals through business planning advice and loans and self-employment assistance. Community Futures provides financing alternatives to small and medium enterprises when access to credit is a challenge to starting or growing their business. To learn more or find an office near you, visit

For more information, please contact:

Larry Widmer, General Manager

Ph. 250-868-2132 ext. 223

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Community Futures has achieved a major milestone, celebrating 30 years of service to entrepreneurs and communities across BC. As part of our 30 year celebration, we are publishing The Future of Entrepreneurship Series. Written by business leaders, this series of forward thinking articles will provide insights and opinions in regards to a number of key challenges and opportunities facing entrepreneurs in the future.

Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Dr. David E Bond

I have been fortunate to know several successful entrepreneurs. All of them shared a number of key attributes that served them well as they launched and then managed enterprises. Over time, despite occasional bumps in the road, they became vibrant and profitable ventures.

First, when they launched their ventures, they were between 35 and 45 – or even older - and they already had significant experience. This is not to say that younger, less-experienced people cannot make it and make it big. Think of Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, both of whom achieved remarkable success with businesses launched when they were still of college-age. But they are the rare exceptions.

Someone in their 30s or 40s has experienced a lot of the ups and downs in life and business and has therefore gained a certain degree of stability. They have an ability to cope with changes in their personal and financial circumstances - which are very likely as they make the shift from working for a larger business or government to being self-employed.

Second, when they started on the journey of starting up an enterprise, their personal financial position was not compromised by, for example, maxed-out credit cards or a spotty record of servicing their debts. Their personal debt was at reasonable levels compared to their incomes. When a new enterprise is seeking original or other early financing, the main criteria lenders will examine is the financial and credit records of the principals involved.

In addition to these attributes, the successful entrepreneurs I know shared a high level of preparedness when approaching a start-up. They knew what they wanted to do and had a clear concept of the product or service they wished to provide. They saw an under-served market or unmet need and, after having carried out some initial research on feasibility, arrived at a belief there was an opportunity that they should seize.

As they progressed further, they assembled information on potential suppliers of products, on how to reach out to potential customers and identified the kind of resources - in terms of finance, facilities and, perhaps most importantly, personnel - they would require. And they were not shy about asking for advice and information and bouncing ideas off their friends and associates. They were all good listeners.

Determination is another essential characteristic because the road to establishing a successful business launch is seldom smooth. One of these embryonic entrepreneurs thought he had a deal with an American company through an affiliate in Canada - only to find out the owner of the US firm wanted total control. But, his company was floundering because he had expanded his operation with inadequate foresight. My friend realized he had had a lucky escape and quickly found another firm with which he could work. Through that firm, he made a series of contacts which allowed him, over time, to expand the range of products he sold. Knowing when to change course and being able and willing to make such an adjustment is essential for the successful entrepreneur.

Another friend wanted to start a consumer catalogue selling Canadian-crafted products. The idea came to her when she read a newspaper article complaining it was impossible to find a tea towel with a replica of a Tom Thomson painting. So she began going to craft shows and collecting names of people in the craft industry and then slowly built a business plan, putting together the component parts of a consumer marketing business which took phone and internet orders. The business hinged on being able to accept credit card payments but one bank feared the operation was a scam aimed at bilking them of vast sums. It took persistent lobbying - plus a more sympathetic banker willing to do real due diligence - to finally get the business growing.

Another entrepreneur, trying to establish a facility that would permit aboriginal communities to borrow in the money markets, encountered barriers with both aboriginal and government leaders that seemed virtually insurmountable. But she persisted and slowly built a series of institutions that would bring financial discipline to potential borrowers and establish a central organization that would be able to finance the loan portfolio at competitive rates.

It took more than 10 years, but the program is now successful and has resulted in significant investment by aboriginal communities in everything from sewers and water systems to community meeting halls and recreational complexes. Moreover, it has encouraged a significant number of similar organizations that administer housing, natural resource development and road-building on band lands.

In all three cases, these successful entrepreneurs were not afraid to seek help and to build alliances that would support their efforts as they launched their enterprises. Willingness to admit mistakes and change course is also a key trait. On the other hand, big egos and hubris don’t lead to start-up success.

One cautionary example: one of my friends found in a warehouse in the US eastern seaboard a particular product that he, as a former member of the armed services, knew and admired. So he bought a thousand, expecting a tsunami of demand. After 4 months he had sold only 4! The lesson he learned was to think long and hard to define the market for any product and to suppress his personal enthusiasm and use careful research and rational thought to avert disaster.

Assuming a successful launch, there are a few day-to-day operating practices that make long-term survival more likely. In virtually all of the successful start-ups I have known, good information has been a critical and central requirement. This includes not just detailed records of receipts and expenditures but accurate inventory records and good customer data, including any feedback they provide. As one entrepreneur said, “Flying blind is just inviting disaster. The information may not be complete but without it I will not grow or indeed survive.” All my examples spent a considerable amount of time searching out and installing information systems suited to their particular needs.

None of these successful entrepreneurs were concerned about getting their hands dirty. When something needed to be done, no matter how menial, they pitched in regardless of the hour day or night if there was nobody else available. Press checks for catalogs at 3 AM, or opening cartons and shelving products, or fulfilling and packaging orders - all part of the job.

Finally, successful entrepreneurs have always understood the important contribution made by the people they employ. Employees must be treated with respect and kindness and listened to attentively when they make a complaint or when they share some information gained from talking with customers or suppliers. Some of the most important ideas for success of endeavours come from staff members and savvy founders reward them accordingly. As one of these innovators said to me, “Our people are our hidden asset and without them I’d be dead in the water.”

Of course, not every aspiring entrepreneur has the full suite of talents and knowledge. Further, the chances for success will always be greatly influenced by the economic environment. But, a well-thought-out project with clear objectives and milestones, run by determined and focused individuals who understand the importance of finance, product, information, personnel, and customers will probably prosper even in the most difficult environments - especially with the help provided by the programs at Community Futures.

Community Futures is a non-profit community business financing organization created to support small and medium sized enterprises throughout rural BC, paving the way for diversified local economies and job creation.

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Kelowna Micro Home Business Plans Two Open Houses

Posted from Kelowna Now February 26, 2016 by Molly Gibson

A new micro home business is launching in Kelowna, and after the complete success of selling tickets for the launch, they’ve decided to hold two open houses.

Little House Contractingis a micro home building company founded by Tara Tschritter. Tschritter is working with Allison Ramchuck, who is the director of business development.

<who> Photo Credit: Tara Tschritter </who> Allison Ramchuck, right, and Tara Tschritter, left, have created Little House Contracting.

The two women announced at the beginning of February that they would be launching the business in March. The launch event will be held on March 11that Laurel Packing House and is for ticket holders only.

Tickets for the event were sold out ten minutes after published the article about the evening.On Facebook Little House Contractingannounced that they released another 50 tickets, which also almost sold out immediately.

Tschritter said the success of the launch tickets have made them decide to hold two open houses about the new business as well.

 The first open house will be held in Kelowna on April 2ndfrom 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m., at the Unitarian Hall.

The second open house will be held in West Kelowna at The Hatch Winery on April 5th. The open house will be held from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.

People can stop by for a cup of coffee and check out the business plans and talk to Tschritter and Ramchuck.

Little House Contracting’s websitewill be launched on March 11th, during the launch event.


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The New Normal

Community Futures has achieved a major milestone, celebrating 30 years of service to entrepreneurs and communities across BC. As part of our 30 year celebration, we are publishing The Future of Entrepreneurship Series. Written by business leaders, this series of forward thinking articles will provide insights and opinions in regards to a number of key challenges and opportunities facing entrepreneurs in the future.

The New Normal

Dr. David E Bond

The world’s economy has undergone a fundamental change and it’s going to take time for governments, households and nations to adjust to this new normal. To successfully survive these forces of change will require leadership in both the private and public sectors as well as a clear understanding of the situation we face.

What is this situation, exactly? It seems highly likely that Canada and most of the developed world will face slow (less than 2%) annual rates of economic growth for at least five years. Slow growth marks a change from what most Canadians have experienced in the past few decades and adjusting to that “new normal” will place strains on the nation’s social, political and economic fabric. But in previous periods of immense national stress we have risen to the challenge and there is no reason believe we will not do so again

Robert Gordon, a respected American economist at Northwestern University says in his newly published book, “The Rise and Fall of American Growth” that this global slow-down is nothing new. While he believes the revolution in high tech and communications has been important, it pales in comparison to the great advances made between 1870 and 1940. These included harnessing electricity, improved urban sanitation, modern chemicals and pharmaceuticals, the internal combustion engine and basic communication such as radio and the telephone. Without innovation of that magnitude, he and many other economists believe economic growth will be very low for the foreseeable future

A quick review of the global economies confirms this pessimistic view. Europe is in a sorry state. Growth there is negligible, government debt is massive, tax revenues are low and the monetary system is on life support. Japan has been limping for more than three decades and seems unwilling or unable to make the changes necessary to return to growth. China, the economic engine that drove the last major surge of growth, is slowing as it tries to transition its economy to be more centred on domestic consumption rather than exports. At the same time, China is trying to lessen corruption and maintain a one party system. Further compounding its problems is a massive amount of bad debt (estimated to equal 50% of its GDP) which overhangs the market. Until that debt is dealt with and corporate balance sheets show a better match of assets and liabilities, little additional investment will take place.

Finally, the force that drove growth in the five decades after World War II, increasing world trade, is slowing. The growth in the last decade has been about half of what it was between 1987 and 2007. Efforts to expand free trade have been fitful. The recently negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership is facing strong headwinds in the United States and may not be ratified. And the World Trade Organization’s latest round of negotiations was officially abandoned last year. Without growing trade there really is nothing pushing global growth.

A rapidly growing economy permits the state to fund growing demands for services such as health care without having to implement policies aimed at increasing efficiency. Growth also can provide room for tax reductions.

Under the new normal, sectors such as health care, accustomed to having its financial demands met, will find it difficult to adjust to opposition to increased spending unless there is a simultaneous increase in the efficiency of the entire system. We can look forward to protracted labour disputes in every public sector activity from education to fire protection and policing and this will put a strain on communities.

Just as importantly, slow growth, particularly in government revenues, means some government expenditures can only be increased if others shrink - unless, of course, taxes increase. This mathematical certainty will force a rethink of what governments should and should not do and probably lead to tax increases, particularly on higher income earners and on certain types of income such as capital gains and large inheritances.

In BC’s private sector, the loss of business on the part of suppliers to the resource sector will make for a turbulent and disquieting economic scene characterized by rising unemployment. Labour markets will undergo significant restructuring. Skilled workers, who moved to Alberta because of high paying jobs and who are now laid off, will begin moving back to where they originally lived and that will put downward pressure on wages in BC. Moreover, potential employers of these displaced workers will be concerned that, if things turn around in the petroleum sector, their employees will once again move back to Alberta. At the same time, these peripatetic workers will not be consuming much since their income will undoubtedly fall well short of previous levels in the petroleum sector while personal debt has not decreased nearly as much.

The recent run-up of housing prices is not sustainable The prices of existing housing will stop rising and in some centres (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and others) fall sharply, along with the income of realtors and the tax take associated with any purchase. We can also expect a decline in housing construction and, therefore, the demand for everything that goes into a new house (appliances, heating systems, plumbing and wiring etc.) and this too could lead to increased unemployment.

All of this means an unsettled environment for anybody considering starting or expanding a business since, in a slow-growth economy, new business ventures will face rising hurdles to entering the market place. For one thing, slow growth means slow (or non-existent) increases in consumers’ income. Given historically high levels of indebtedness, households will be seeking to reduce their debt and will therefore cut back on consumption.

Not only will markets for both products and services be shrinking or just not growing, obtaining financing for start-ups will become more difficult. That, in turn, implies a raising of the bar as to what projects can and should be supported.

Although the overall picture is not optimistic, it does not mean that a well-financed new venture with a solid business plan and a good product or service in a focused market will not succeed. Seasoned and determined new entrepreneurs will still come forward and many will succeed - but it won’t be easy. These successful entrepreneurs will have to have vision, drive and smarts to succeed.

Watch for Dr. Bond’s second article Characteristics of Entrepreneurs I have known.  

Community Futures is a non-profit community business financing organization created to support small and medium sized enterprises throughout rural BC, paving the way for diversified local economies and job creation.

Learn more (

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Phase 3 Announced - The Western Innovation Initiative

(Le français suit)

Re: Western Innovation Initiative – Call for Proposals – Intake 3

On March 14, 2016, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) will be launching the third call for proposals for the Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative. The objective of WINN is to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in commercializing new technology-based products, processes and services.

WINN is a $100 million, five-year federal funding initiative that provides repayable contributions to SME’s located in Western Canada. WINN complements WD’s existing programs and supports an environment where local businesses can thrive and innovate.

WINN seeks to enhance Canada’s business advantages and encourage the private sector to bring new ideas to market. Please visit the WD website for further information about WINN and how to apply for funding.


Western Economic Diversification Canada

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Objet : Initiative d’innovation dans l’Ouest – Appel de propositions – 3e appel

Le 14 mars 2016, Diversification de l’économie de l’Ouest Canada (DEO) lancera le troisième appel de propositions pour l’Initiative d’innovation dans l’Ouest (Initiative InnO). Son objectif est d’aider les petites et moyennes entreprises (PME) à commercialiser de nouveaux produits, procédés et services technologiques.

L’Initiative InnO est une initiative de financement fédérale de 100 millions de dollars sur cinq ans qui offre des contributions remboursables à des PME de l’Ouest canadien. L’Initiative InnO s’ajoute à nos programmes courants et crée un environnement dans lequel les entreprises locales peuvent croître et innover.

L’Initiative InnO vise à accroître l’avantage concurrentiel du Canada et à encourager le secteur privé à commercialiser des idées novatrices. Veuillez visiter le site Web de DEO pour obtenir plus de renseignements au sujet de l’Initiative InnO et sur la façon de présenter une demande d’aide financière.


Diversification de l’économie de l’Ouest Canada


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Tech is Growing in the Okanagan

Earlier this year, the Central Okanagan was ranked as the second best entrepreneurial area in Canada

It could be the hot summers, great skiing weather in the winter, but also the support from the local government and businesses. Whatever the reason the Okanagan is home to lots of great entrepreneurs, both with experience and funding to share with new startups.

As they say, like attracts like, which is one of the reasons more startups and entrepreneurs are choosing to build their business in the Okanagan valley. In fact, the Thompson-Okanagan has seen the highest growth percentage of small business in all of BC. And a lot of that growth has been in the tech startups — from animation studios, to apps and websites.

With more and more tech startups settling in the Okanagan there’s an increased demand for talented developers and software engineers. You only need to look at the Kelowna tech job boards to get an idea. Which is great news for the developers in the valley – no more moving to Vancouver or Toronto. As one of the highest growing in-demand jobs there’s now plenty of people looking to grow their skills here in the valley.

To help grow our tech community co+Lab is excited to welcome another startup to Kelowna: Lighthouse Labs, a bootcamp for developers. Lighthouse Labs has had amazing success helping tech communities in Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary build their developer talent and now will be turning their focus to Kelowna. They’ll be joining the co+Lab in 2016.

What are you waiting for?! Sign up here:

Posted in: Features on January 18th by Shane Austin
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Local Startup Company Keeps Kids Safe & Happy Online While Putting Parents in Control

MeucciScreenPhone.pngKelowna based startup creates the first safe messenger app for youth.

The first COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act) compliant messenger has been developed specifically for youth. Meucci is 100% human moderated and uses the most advanced chat monitoring technologies available to keep kids safe while they interact and share in an online environment.

Former Oprah Winfrey, Ultimate Viewer, Founder and CEO of JBF Kids Inc., Janice Taylor, wanted to develop an online space where kids can play, share and chat without being exposed to advertising or unwanted influences. The result is Meucci. Meucci is Taylor's version of a virtual "telephone in the kitchen" with a creative spin, live interaction and highly advanced safety features for parental control in a regulated environment.

JBF Kids Inc. specializes in youth engagement products for professional sports teams and brands, and has more than 8 NHL and NFL Team Club Apps and a partnership with the NFLPA. "At JBF Kids Incorporated, our first goal is to educate parents and youth for a positive and healthy experience online. As a parent and founder of this company, keeping kids safe is my first priority," says Taylor.

The first app of its kind, Meucci is designed specifically for youth under 13. Offering more than an online club, kids can connect with live party events, game schedules and it offers VIP access to team and player news, helping kids expand their world from entertaining online activities to real life fun.

While Meucci is monitoring peer-to-peer chats, kids can create personalized avatars with fun hairstyles and funny expressions. They can join as many clubs as they like, take part in exciting live event parties, share custom sticker packs and badges while they message each other, and with new content provided daily, there is always something fun for kids to join in and talk about.

The vision at JBF Kids Inc., is to expand safe play for kids beyond sports by offering a new variety of clubs, games and activities to suit all interests, with extra features like groups kids can create, more avatar accessories, image and video support, player card trading and new trivia packs. The team at JBF is especially excited about bringing more NHL teams and Pro Sports Leagues on board, and the many forthcoming opportunities Meucci will foster.

Download Meucci from the Apple App Store or from February 1, 2016.

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