Micro-Loan recipient becomes Okanagan small business success story

Like many other young entrepreneurs, Andrew Verge’s dream of running a successful small business hasn’t come without its challenges.

Like many other young entrepreneurs, Summerland resident Andrew Verge’s dream of running a successful small business hasn’t come without its challenges.

The owner/operator of Spud Brothers Food Services saw a chance to cash in on the mobile food trend, but a lack of funds kept him from getting any traction. That’s when he turned to a micro-loan program through Valley First, whose financial support helped get his business back on-track.

Verge was a local applicant to the loan program. Designed to help create financing opportunities for young entrepreneurs, loans can range from a few hundred dollars to $5,000. Verge says he was thankful for the financial assistance, but was more grateful for the opportunity to help shape the future of his business and make a real difference in his community.

“I have always liked the idea of doing something that no one else was doing, delivering food right there to the customer, at the beach, at the park, or at the arena,” said Verge. “Now I can stay ahead of the trend, change the look of my business and market it better to ensure customers are getting the best food and the best service possible. The micro-loan program, through Valley First, has provided the opportunity to do that.”

Roger Houle, assistant vice-president of commercial banking at Valley First says Spud Brothers is a great example of how credit unions and entrepreneurs can succeed together.

“We are community driven and we are focused on ensuring that the small businesses in our communities succeed,” said Houle. “We measure our success on their success. It’s exciting to get involved with enthusiastic, well-prepared, local entrepreneurs and help them realize their business opportunities.”

According to Statistics Canada, 46 per cent of B.C. businesses are considered small and have accounted for 47 per cent of all jobs created on average from 2001 to 2010. However, 49 per cent of small businesses also end up closing within the first five years of opening; a daunting trend that Verge is constantly aware of.

“If I hadn’t gone to Valley First and received the micro-loan, it would be tough for me to carry on, and I probably wouldn’t still be in business today,” said Verge. “Certainly the fact that this program exists speaks volumes about values of the credit union.”