For more than 37 years Community Futures has successfully helped local entrepreneurs by providing advisory services and financing. Whether you want to start a business or expand your current operation, we have a loan for that! Do you need money to apply new technology to enhance productivity, upgrade your facilities and/or equipment, or an interest in purchasing a business, we are your local experts.
Specializing in loans that meet the needs of small and medium sized enterprises, we offer customized re-payment schedules that work for you and your business. Our goal is to fill your financial gap and maximize your assets or funds so that your entrepreneurial dreams become reality. As developmental lenders, we work collaboratively with banks and credit unions as well as other Community Futures offices in our network to create a financing plan that works for you.
As of March 2022 Community Futures Central Island has lent $51,403,566 to 2978 local small businesses in our region leveraging $69,887,103 in our communities and creating/maintaining 6,780 jobs.
We are completely focused on the needs of our clients, local businesses, and region’s economy. Located in Nanaimo, we assist entrepreneurs throughout central Vancouver Island from Ladysmith to Bowser, Whiskey Creek to Gabriola and Lasqueti Island and points in between. Community Futures is the only non-profit organization throughout rural BC with a mandate for small business and community economic development.
My favourite quote is actually a song lyric: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” (The Beatles, 1967). I do believe that the relationships we build over the years are priceless. They support us, they engage us in healthy debate and they make us accountable.
Working in business development has always been my passion. My career started with being a chamber manager where I was introduced to Community Futures in the early 1990’s. My involvement led to my employment and the rest is history. My work assisting both communities and entrepreneurs has been very rewarding. It has allowed to take my own business experience as well as education and work experience and assist others. My journey in self employment taught me to be aware of my intentions as a business owner. It was not my business to run as I pleased. I was there to serve my customers … taking care of business was taking care of them, they were my livelihood!
What I bring to Community Futures is the ability to understand and provide change management advice. I appreciate systems thinking: working through a problem to find the best solution. I enjoy facilitating strategic planning and focus group sessions. I also have a knack for connecting people; I’m a matchmaker.
One of my life’s goals is to retire financially secure so that I can experience culinary travel. I love great wine, good food and traveling, so it is the best way to experience all three together.
It is hard to pick just one favourite book, but if I had to it would be “The Book of Negroes” (Hill) which I read while on a vacation. I could not put it down. It was a riveting historical fiction account of the life of a young African girl, through the American Revolution, to her senior years. Another favourite book is “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” (Stone, Patton, Heen). This book provided me with the skills to look for the underlying structure of every difficult conversation and find the tools to approach those conversations with less stress and more success.
Business Development & Credit Officer
I bring comprehensive experience in public service and non-profit environments to Community Futures, along with superior knowledge of human resources, partnership development, staff leadership and financial management.
Assisting with the planning and delivery of events which were part of the 2014 International Festival of Business, a global showcase and 50-day festival in Liverpool attracting 68,600 business attendees from 92 countries at 415 events was my most challenging and interesting occupation to date.
After all these years of being in the business and non-profit sector, I have learned to always be open to learning. I believe it is important to be willing to receive advice, know that you have room for improvement, but also be selective in the advice upon which you act. If I were asked to offer one piece of advice for business people it would to “Be bold!’ Don’t be afraid to try and fail – many times you will succeed!
As Alice in Alice in Wonderland notes, “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” We are defined by our choices, experiences and our perspectives. So, every day, we wake up a new person, with new thoughts and ideas.
Elizabeth Gilbert of “Eat, Pray, Love” said it best during her Ted Talk titled Your Elusive Creative Genius. “Follow your curiosity because passion is sort of a tower of flame that is not always accessible. Your curiosity may lead you to your passion or it may not. It may have been for “nothing”, in which case all you’ve done your entire life is spend your existence in pursuit of the things that made you feel curious and inspired and that should be good enough.”
During my time as the Director of Operations and then Acting Executive Director of the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society, we were the proud recipients of three industry awards: 2016 Aspect Organization of the Year, The 2017 BC Career Development Association, Career Development Organization of the year award and the Non-Profit Organization of the Year 2017 from the Nanaimo Chamber Business Achievement Awards.
Office & Loans Administrator
I bring a background in Financial Services and Marketing along with superior customer service, organization and problem solving skills to my role at Community Futures. My volunteer role on their Marketing Committee helped me to truly understand what Community Futures is about and its impact on the local small business community.
When I started a position as an Advertising Sales Representative at a local newspaper, I really thought I was connected in the Central Vancouver Island community. I had worked, volunteered and raised my family in the area but I had barely scratched the surface. In fact, I was only connected with the businesses and individuals that were within my inner circle. Working at the newspaper allowed me to meet so many interesting and passionate business people and it was exciting to share in their dreams.
If I could offer one piece of advice to business people, it would be to put in the hard work. Businesses don’t just happen; they are the result of a lot of hard work where you will have many job descriptions that are constantly changing. As Richard Branson says, “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”
One of my favourite books is Life of Pi by Yan Martel. Key lessons learned from this book that can be applied to business are to stay focused, strength comes from within and life is all about the adventure. With the ever-changing marketplace, it is equally important to build and promote long lasting customer relationships. It is imperative to expand your network to include other businesses, community members, business groups and local government.
Outdoor adventures are high on my priority list. I enjoy hiking, kayaking, and just being in the outdoors. Every summer, I challenge myself on multi-day adventure. Some of my trips include a kayaking trip up to the Broughton Archipelago, backpacking trips on the West Coast Trail and in the Canadian Rockies. My goal is to continue to be active and challenge myself for many years to come.
Related jobs and achievements include Advertising Sales Manager; Financial Advisor and Loans Administrator; Community Futures Marketing Committee Volunteer; Volunteer and Director for Qualicum Beach Fire and Ice and Parksville Beach Festival; Outstanding Customer Service Award Recipient, Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Kerriann Coady is the Chief Executive Officer for the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of Vancouver Island. An advocate for the residential building industry and leader in builder education. Demonstrating strength in Government Relations voicing concerns with recommended solutions on Provincial, Municipal and Federal Housing policies that can affect the industry and housing affordability.
In my current role, I project managed the first Nanaimo Community Hospice Dream Home Lottery. It was so rewarding to be able to support such an incredible community organization like Hospice. With Community Futures Central Island, I enjoy seeing the full circle of involvement, from client thru to committee member. It is incredible when you see someone who has received a service from the organization that enabled them to go confidently into business and then come and give back to that organization.
When it comes to business, your team is paramount and this extends to your personal support network as well. A strong team is critical. Focus on value first, and always be ready to learn. One of my favorite quotes; “Perseverance – It’s never crowded on the extra mile”.
Favourite books: Think Like A Monk – Jay Shetty
I was assigned the position of Director of Communications – Nanaimo Port Authority in 2013. My most Interesting occupation to date is my current one. I realize that to be effective in this field one must always be open to learning. What is seen on the surface is supported by considerably more under the surface…Less is often more.
What have I learned over the years about being in business?
- Good Business Models are affected by Politics; Politics are part of Business.
- Many people ask you for information to confirm what they already believe…and are reluctant to change their minds.
- People with autonomy and ownership will perform with more motivation than people who are continually scrutinized, provided that the goals and timelines are clear, accountability is evident and results are acknowledged by someone they respect.
- Respect is earned and seldom achieved by title. A sincere “Thank You” can be a subtle but powerful motivator..
- Information is incomplete without context.
- Emotion produces results but, on occasion, can erode credibility.
- Relationships drive business development.
Regarding advice for business people. First, do not consider yourself as an established business until you operate for 5 years; you must survive various cycles. Secondly, most businesses fail due to under capitalization, inflexibility and misunderstanding their position in the marketplace.
Books worth a read – Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett | The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton. A foundation of regular consistent habits establishes confidence and leads to achievements that otherwise wouldn’t be considered possible. Saying “what if” creates possibilities. Passion is a core ingredient for achieving success and happiness.
I worked in business and in Government at the Provincial level, with a Federal authority (agent of) and for non-profit Organizations as staff and at the Board level, in two provinces. I am currently the Chair of the BC Ocean Boating Tourism Association and Community Futures Central Island. My understanding of these agencies along with my expertise in Organizational Development, Management, Marketing & Sales, Training and communication are what I bring to Community Futures.
So this is me…my life…born and raised in a small town that could be otherwise referred to as the edge of the earth. As far west in Canada as you can get before you fall into the ocean. Born in Tofino on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.
Raised in rugged Ucluelet, a small town at that time submerged in both forestry and fishing. Growing up embracing life on the coast, the simplicity of nature and the call of the ocean. Growing up in a family that embraced the value of community, I learned that it takes a “village”. “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” ~ Helen Keller. Following in my father’s footsteps, I started a career in forestry…leaving my home on Vancouver Island and going on to own and manage two very successful companies over the next several years.
After the birth of my three children and later the sale of my business, I relocated back to Vancouver Island, where the ocean still called to me. As a single father for many years during that period of my life, I pursued a career in real estate and made a commitment to my family, my community and the area that my children and I call home a priority. It is here that I found the value of community.
I have been actively involved in our community in my support of local organizations like the Oceanside Minor Hockey Association, as an active board member with the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce and Parksville Qualicum Tourism Association and have remained an active participant and volunteer in local community functions and committees. I am also a graduate of the Leadership Vancouver Island Program.
I continue to strive to be a dedicated REALTOR® that is passionate about helping people achieve their dreams and goals. I pride myself on always putting the best interests of my clients FIRST and offers specialized and complementary value-added services to my Oceanside and Nanaimo clients. I am one of a small number of accredited Seniors Real Estate Specialists (SRES®) and Accredited Buyer’s Representatives (ABR®) in our region. I work for Royal LePage Parksville Qualicum Beach Realty in Parksville – Qualicum Beach.
We all choose what we value in life and it is our responsibility to not only find it, but to help others find it as well. It takes a community. “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples” ~ Mother Teresa
“I come to the Community Futures Central Island Board with an unwavering need to help build small businesses in the central Vancouver Island region, which in turn builds strong rural communities.”
Jennifer Fowler is the Executive Director for the Clay Tree Society. Her most interesting occupations are being a mother to a 16 year old daughter and working in Malawi, in Southern Africa, as a Communications Specialist.
When we asked her “What she has learned over the years of being in business?” She responded “It first starts with passion, but continuous learning and a network/community to support and learn from is key to success.” A quote that resonates with her is “I would rather die of passion than of boredom by Vincent van Gogh.” One piece of advice she would offer to business people: Never underestimate the importance of consistent/ongoing communications with clients.
What major expertise does she bring to the CF Board of Directors? Her background is in Communications, but she has worked in the area of diversity and inclusion for several years. She also has a business management certificate from the University of Alberta.
What is her favourite Community Futures moment? Community Futures Port Alberni was one of my first jobs out of university (many years ago) working with youth in encouraging them to think about entrepreneurship. It feels great to be a part of the Community Futures community again.
What is her Favourite Book? A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. What is a major life passion and one life goal that she still has to complete? To finish an Ironman
Jennifer has a Masters in Intercultural and International Communications. She has been an Executive Director for non-profits and in Executive Leadership roles for government for the past several years. Some think that these are not operated in the same way as the private sector, but if we do not operate with true business sense/ expertise, we are not being stewards of public resources and funds.
Bridget Warner is a Management Consultant with Sharpline Management Inc.
Her most interesting occupation is at her current position as a Management Consultant. She has worked with numerous organizations since 2008, allowing her to engage with interesting people, learn about different industries and sectors, tackle complex problems, and contribute to important causes.
One piece of advice she has for business people is to cultivate your curiosity. Asking questions can improve business performance, increase customer engagement, and reveal solutions and opportunities. As Einstein said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
What has she learned over the years about being in business? Relationships are critical. Establishing good relationships leads to better outcomes and makes work more enjoyable for everyone.
What is her Favourite book? As a curious person, it is hard to choose one favourite book. Essentialism by Greg McKeown challenges the assumption that we can have and do it all and introduces the discipline of pursuing less. This mindset helps us to do the right things at the right time.
What is her major life passion and one life goal? I am passionate about supporting local businesses and the dedicated individuals who operate them. Vancouver Island is an incredible place to live and contributing to my community is important to me. Being a CF Board Member is an excellent match with my values and passion.
What major expertise do you bring to the CF Board of Directors? Data Strategy, Business Intelligence and Data Analysis. Bridget also has an MBA in Executive Management with a specialization in Management Consulting, Royal Roads University, September 2012.
Steve is the Managing Director of Taste of BC Aquafarms a former client of Community Futures Central Vancouver Island. As founder of Taste of BC Aquafarms, along with his wife Janet, Steve has been a leader in the development of Land Based Salmon Farming. Last year Taste of BC merged with Blue Star Foods and together were listed on the NASDAQ. Prior to this Steve has had a broad range of experience. He is an ordained minister and a serial entrepreneur. Both as a minister in the not-for-profit sector and in the private sector, Steve has led and served on several boards, owned and operated several ventures, developed land and contracted construction from single family homes, multi family housing projects to church buildings.
Steve is excited to lend his experience to new entrepreneurs as part of the Board of Community Futures Central Vancouver Island. He has experienced the help and unique role that Community Futures has to offer and looks forward to adding to the team to continue the long legacy CF has in the Central Island.
If you are a current or retired business owner, professional or entrepreneur that is interested in a position on the Board of Directors and currently resides in Central Vancouver Island, please introduce yourself in an email.
Our board recruitment process is as follows:
- Our membership and recruitment committee implements and oversees board recruitment.
- The board shall, on at least an annual basis, or when there is a vacancy, review its composition and determine if recruitment is necessary.
- When it is determined that recruitment is necessary, the committee shall advertise the opportunity.
- The committee shall review all applications received and meet with all suitable candidates.
- After interviewing the suitable candidates, the committee shall bring new member appointment recommendations to the Board and if approved, the candidates will be appointed.
All loans and credit products must be based on a genuine assessment of the borrower’s needs, the suitability of the product to meet those needs, and demonstrated capacity to meet the repayments. If an applicant feels they have been wronged or mistreated, they may follow a redress mechanism that begins by informally complaining to the Executive Director.