The 40th edition of Small Business Week – a creation of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) – is to be held coast to coast from Oct. 20 to Oct. 26.
The purpose is to celebrate entrepreneurs, says Paula Cruickshank, the BDC’s senior vice-president for B.C. and the North.
“Forty years ago this year, we started up the celebration in Surrey, B.C., and folks thought it was such a good idea that it spread quickly across the country and we made it national shortly after that,” she said.
Cruickshank believes Small Business Week is a great opportunity to recognize the hard work that entrepreneurs do every day and to talk about various ways that BDC can help them.
“We believe they’re very important,” she said. “If we take a look just at BDC’s own clients, they employ a million Canadians, contribute $350 billion in annual revenue, and we know that about 98 per cent of businesses across Canada would have less than 100 employees.”
Cruickshank noted there are a number of definitions of a small business from different government organizations and businesses themselves.
“But I think it’s easy to say that under 100 employees would be a small or medium-sized enterprise,” she said.
In her role with BDC, Cruickshank has travelled to Whitehorse and Yellowknife, and is working on a trip to Nunavut.
“And I’m actually planning a trip to Hay River,” she said, noting she hopes to visit the community sometime later this year.
“So we’ve been talking about a trip up there,” she said. “We’ve recently been doing some business and it would be a great opportunity to meet some of our clients there.”
BDC works with about 15 businesses in Hay River.
Throughout the NWT, the organization’s loans exceed $20 million a year.
Cruickshank, who is based in Vancouver, said small businesses are important in every community of the country.
“That’s part of why BDC tries to be in a lot of communities across Canada,” she said, noting the organization has about 123 business centres, including in Yellowknife, and works to serve Canadians in all smaller communities.
“I think that the vast majority of Canadians do understand that small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” she added. “There’s no question larger companies have more resources, but that’s why BDC exists and that’s why we work with those smaller companies all the time.”
Cruickshank explained that BDC services fall into three categories.
“The most recognizable would be our loans, so our financing business,” she said. “We also have an advisory business. So we can support small businesses with advice. And third, we have a capital arm that can make investments in businesses. That’s a smaller arm, but it’s just as important.”
BDC also has some services particularly tailored for Indigenous entrepreneurs.
“That’s one thing that we know is a big part of our business in the Northwest Territories,” said Cruickshank.
As part of Small Business Week, the BDC will be presenting an award at a gala of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 25.
The theme for Small Business Week this year is ‘The people behind the businesses’.
“This year, we really wanted to celebrate the entrepreneurs,” said Cruickshank. “It also is BDC’s 75th anniversary and we know that running a business isn’t easy. So we really want to celebrate those folks that take that path.”