Celebrating Small Business Month at ACU’s Community Financial Centre

Small businesses have a huge impact on Manitoba’s economy.

There were 39,000 small businesses with less than 100 employees in Manitoba in 2022, making up 97.7% of all businesses in the province. With 286,500 total employees, small businesses account for nearly 80% of all jobs in Manitoba.

Amanda Kinden - Business Owner - Oh Doughnuts
Amanda Kinden, Business Owner, Oh Doughnuts and ACU Business Member

Small really can be mighty, and ACU’s Community Financial Centre (CFC) has been helping them be just that for over a decade.

CFC serves the unique needs of small businesses, non-profits, co-ops and social enterprises. Through experience, we have learned what support and services they generally require.

Tall Grass Bakery
Counter manager Leni Morrison shows off cinnamon buns at Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company in Winnipeg’s Wolseley neighbourhood.

To celebrate Small Business Month, let’s look at how ACU’s CFC excels at doing things a little differently.

What makes the CFC unique

“We work together to help small and medium sized businesses grow and prosper, but we also look at different ways we can help the underserved. That’s not only individuals but non-profit organizations as well,” explains Glorife Dela Cruz, Commercial Account Manager and Small Business Specialist at the CFC.

“The CFC takes particular pride in its track record of helping those who face challenges when trying to secure financing from traditional lenders,” adds Glorife’s colleague, Palwinder Singh.

“Other financial institutions rarely lend to non-profits and new startups,” says Palwinder, who’s also a Commercial Account Manager and Small Business Specialist. “At ACU, we’re happy to work with businesses, however small, to achieve their financial goals.”

Since it was established in 2012, the CFC has developed deep expertise in removing barriers to financial services for members of underserved populations, including Indigenous communities and immigrants.

“I had one couple who were new to Canada. They were bakers back home in India and looking to buy and operate a bakery here in Canada,” recalls Charity Allen, a CFC Commercial Account Manager and Small Business Specialist. With the right guidance and advice provided through CFC, “they were able to access the financing they needed to open their business and pursue their dream of a new life in Manitoba.”

Even if you already own a small business, Glorife explains that CFC advisors have the knowledge and experience to help you think big.

“With the CFC, you have professionals on your team that can guide you in the right direction and make the difference in your growth as a business owner.”

The CFC’s welcoming atmosphere and unique approach makes opening a small business a little less daunting. The diverse CFC team can also offer members originally from India or the Philippines the option of transacting business in their first language.

However unconventional the situation might be, CFC does its best to “find a way.” It acts as a collaborative partner, from offering educational resources and workshops to creating flexible, customized solutions for a member’s specific needs. While no two small businesses are exactly the same, the CFC’s experienced experts will have seen — and provided solutions to — just about every situation that can make a new business unique.

“Our centre focuses on walking alongside our members to ensure they’re ready and will be successful,” Charity explains. “Sometimes that means we’re unable to help them right now. So we guide them and connect them with other resources and partners in the community, like the Women’s Enterprise Centre.”

CFC’s community focus

Community isn’t just part of the CFC’s name. It underpins everything the CFC does.

The CFC is about stepping up and reaching out. For example, it has worked with public, private and community partners to create partnerships and programs to support the expansion and enhancement of affordable housing stock. It has also made financing available for home ownership among urban Indigenous families, provided loans to skilled newcomers pursuing accreditation of their foreign credentials so they can pursue careers in their fields of expertise, and customized mortgages for Manitoba’s Islamic community in accordance with their faith.

“Our employees live and work in the local community, and ACU is very visible in the community,” Charity notes.

Palwinder adds that living in the community gives the CFC team a deep understanding of local markets, “which can be valuable for members seeking to finance projects in their area.”

Read ACU's annual impact report

CFC’s community minded culture stems from ACU’s co-operative business model, in which each member is also an owner, not just a customer or client.

ACU has received several awards for its commitment to social responsibility and environmental sustainability, including:

We've been recognized a a 2022 Best For The World B Corp for exceptional impact on its community, customers and governance.

And, as a Certified B Corporation®, ACU meets rigorous standards for accountability, transparency, social impact and environmental responsibility. ACU was honoured as a Best For The World™ B Corp for its positive contributions in the categories of community, customers and governance. ACU is also carbon-neutral.

As part of Assiniboine Credit Union, CFC invests in more than small businesses and non-profit ventures. It invests in the future of people and communities.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, non-profit organization, brand new startup or existing small business, ACU’s Community Financial Centre knows that your success leads to a stronger, more sustainable local economy where everyone benefits.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

Find out more about CFC’s innovative services and inclusive approach today.

About Christine Wong

Christine Wong has been covering business and technology since 1995, when Mark Zuckerberg was in sixth grade. A former associate producer at Business News Network and Slice TV, Wong freelances while chasing after the biggest story of her life — Ben, who is 10.

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