The Business Development Bank of Canada is supporting more Canadian entrepreneurs than ever before, up 17 per cent from the previous year, according to BDC’s annual report.
The Crown corporation that supports small and medium-sized businesses is financially backing and supporting roughly 49,000 business owners coast-to-coast to help Canadian entrepreneurs grow.
This year, the bank for entrepreneurs put a special focus on financing women-led companies, a $700 million commitment they made in 2015. In November, they allocated $50 million to create a new direct investing initiative, and to date, the bank has invested $621 million in majority-owned women businesses.
That includes Waterloo-based Plum.io launched by CEO Caitlin MacGregor in 2012. MacGregor secured a BDC investment to grow her SaaS startup, a pre-employment psychology-based assessment tool that helps companies select the best people for the job.
“We’ve been able to beat out legacy providers in the space and prove that we’re able to leverage the the most advanced psychometric assessments, and grow and retain top talent,” said MacGregor.
The cloud software uses modern behavioural science and predictive analytics to help companies remain unbiased during the hiring process.
MacGregor credits BDC for helping the company move from a startup phase into a scale up phase. Plum was one of the three first women-owned businesses that received capital from BDC’s initiative. This year, Plum secured $250,000.
But MacGregor said it’s more than just capital that BDC has given Plum, explaining the importance of the support from Nicole Leblanc, BDC’s associate director, in closing $2 million in seed funding.
“Nicole’s belief in [Plum] lead us to the closing that seed money and attracting other investors,” she said.
Plum has been able to double its employees in the last year.
BDC has also launched a $135-million venture capital fund for startups in the industrial, clean and energy technology—investing in 26 innovative tech companies to date.
This past fiscal year, more than $1 billion in venture capital was reinvested in 700 innovative high tech businesses. The BDC now has a record portfolio of $29 billion. The bank also reported a net income of nearly $465 million and committed $6.6 billion in loans.