Canadian Youth Business Foundation

In the midst of ongoing economic and business uncertainty, there’s actually some good news on the small business front: Young people are continuing to start new businesses in Canada.

According to the federal government, three times more Canadian businesses are being opened by entrepreneurs between the ages of 25 and 34 than are being opened by those over the age of 45. However, these young entrepreneurs continue to face daunting challenges to small business success. Two of the biggest are a lack of capital and inadequate access to resources, especially guidance and mentorship from more experienced entrepreneurs.

But there’s one organization in Canada that’s committed to changing this. For the past 15 years, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) has been providing hands-on assistance to young Canadian entrepreneurs (age 18-34) in the form of pre- and post-launch business coaching, mentoring, financing, and a wide range of online business resources.

“CYBF is Canada’s ‘go to’ place for young entrepreneurs, and our success is proven,” says Cathy Delaney, the director of CYBF in British Columbia. “We help young entrepreneurs through the entire business life-cycle, from pre-launch planning to start-up and implementation.”

Cream-of-the-Crop Entrepreneurs

Delaney says CYBF doesn’t target entrepreneurs in any specific type of business or industry. “Traditional or high-tech, conservative or more ‘out there,’ it doesn’t really matter. We’re looking for the cream-of-the-crop young entrepreneurs in Canada who have the passion, drive and tenacity it takes to run a successful business.”

While a written business plan is one of the pre-requisites for obtaining assistance or financing from CYBF, “a good business plan isn’t enough,” says Delaney. “We want to help young people who are willing to go the extra mile to find their way around business obstacles, and who have the right mindset for entrepreneurship.”

CYBF provides loans of up to $15,000 for young entrepreneurs who qualify, amortized over up to five years. In addition, once they are approved for funding from CYBF, young entrepreneurs may also be eligible to receive up to twice the initial CYBF loan offer (up to $30,000) through the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Delaney stresses that, while banks and finance companies loan money based on the assets of a business, CYBF makes its lending decisions based on the assets of the entrepreneur. “Ours are character-based loans,” she explains. “We realize that many young entrepreneurs may not have built up the kind of business assets a bank or finance company is looking for in order to lend money.”

Mentor Support System

Entrepreneurs who are approved for financing receive four hours per month of hands-on business assistance and guidance from a volunteer CYBF mentor for a minimum of two years. “We have a strong support system that’s designed to do everything possible to help ensure the success of these new businesses,” says Delaney.

First Vancouver Finance Senior Vice President Tom Klausen has recently started his second mentoring assignment with CYBF. “I really enjoyed the first meeting when I learned about this young entrepreneur’s business and his aspirations for the future,” says Klausen. “Then at our second meeting, I got to share my experience and inject a dose of reality. But I’m not sure he enjoyed that part as much as I did!

“CYBF’s model of tying financial assistance to a mentoring relationship is an excellent one, and it really works well,” Klausen adds. “If you are experienced in business and enjoy working with young people, you will definitely enjoy getting involved as a CYBF mentor.”

If you know of a young entrepreneur between the ages of 18 and 34 who needs business financing or working capital but you are unable to provide financing due to the start-up nature of the business or a lack of business assets, please consider referring them to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.

You can learn more about CYBF by visiting or calling (866) 646-2922.

Tom Klausen is the Senior Vice President of First Vancouver Finance (FVF), which has offices in Vancouver, BC and Toronto, ON. FVF provides creative financing solutions to small and medium-sized businesses all across Canada. Tom has worked in the alternative lending industry for more than 25 years and consults with businesses struggling to obtain traditional financing. You can reach him at or visit

To learn more about FVF and the financing options we can provide to clients, please visit us at (800) 663-0721.

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