Hi Renee, the BDC is a great lender to many Canadian businesses. I've heard many horror stories from businesses that have had problems with the BDC, but I think it all depends on which account manager you deal with (that's the case with most lenders). Anyways, I have a great relationship with the BDC Toronto office, and was successful earlier this year in getting two service based companies loans under the BDC Innovation financing program ($100,000 and $150,000, both for marketing and growth initiatives).
Here's an article I wrote about the BDC late last year for an Accounting Firm's newsletter:
The Business Development Bank of Canada is a financial institution belonging to the Government of Canada, with the mandate: “to encourage innovation and stimulate the growth of small and medium-size Canadian companies.” The BDC usually looks for companies with a sound management team that possess solid growth potential. The BDC can provide working capital solutions to complement traditional bank financing.
The BDC’s lending practices are somewhat different from the traditional chartered banks. With the BDC, borrowers receive a guaranteed term, meaning that financing cannot be recalled without due cause. As opposed to the chartered banks, where facilities are typically demand loans and can be recalled at any time. The BDC has very flexible repayment terms, including deferring principal payments, amortizing loans for up to an 8 year term, or offering seasonal and/or progressive payment options. This allows businesses to structure their cash flow accordingly. The BDC is willing to lend to companies that are more leveraged than traditional banks would consider. As well the BDC is willing to finance higher loan-to-value ratios than the chartered banks max out on.
The BDC also offers subordinated debt, where they will postpone their claim to a chartered bank. Sub-debt can be very advantageous to many companies, because the BDC ties the repayment terms to the company’s cash flow projections. The pricing model can be setup as normal interest payments, royalties on sales, bonus interest based on milestones, warrants or some combination of these items. The BDC lends sub-debt to businesses based on historical cash flow, management and growth potential. The innovation financing program provides small businesses with funds to carry out marketing and/or growth plans, increase inventory, and/or develop new products.
The BDC funds all types of businesses including start-ups, however will not fund any business that earns 50% or more of their profits from alcohol sales or gambling. The cost of borrowing from the BDC is generally higher than the chartered banks. The BDC’s base rate generally starts at two points above regular bank prime, and then the risk premium is applied to these rates based on each project's potential and the amount of risk involved. The BDC may not be ideal for all businesses, but as an alternative and/or complement to traditional bank financing, the BDC could be a very attractive solution.
Cranson Capital Solutions
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