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Local pastry chef Jessica Mackenzie benefited from the program. Image: Regis Phillips

Federal support improves entrepreneurial funding

By Regis Phillips Jun 5, 2024 | 7:07 AM

The federal government has announced nearly $1.1 million to support Envision Saint John’s Impact Loan Program (ILP).

The investment announced Tuesday will expand the program’s funding from $25,000 to $50,000 per business owner, as well as broaden eligibility categories and operational funding, allowing more entrepreneurs access to capital.

Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long says the funding to the progeam will help entrepreneurs access seed capital loans to start and grow a business and the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“I’m so pleased that the Government of Canada is supporting Envision’s efforts to help entrepreneurs and businesses seize opportunities that will help them realize their dreams and boost our economy,” said Long.

“You are working hard to drive the economy forward and help communities and, like today, entrepreneurs reach new heights, break barriers, and innovate.”

In addition to financing, the seed capital program includes access to business skills training, networking and coaching.

Jessica Mackenzie was one of the 130 entrepreneurs Envision supported through the loan program last year.

The pastry chef was laid off from her job during COVID-19 and, as a creative outlet, decided to film herself making pastries on social media.

“It escalated to doing night markets, so I did the Thursday night market with the City Market and Saturday pop-ups at the market as well. It just got to the point of finding a licenced kitchen to cook out of,” said Mackenzie.

Mackenzie met with an Envision representative who told her about the ILP, and after pitching her idea to the company, she was approved.

She believes the program can help with anyone’s vision.

“There’s guidance and mentorship and it comes with business classes,” added Mackenzie.