The Okanagan is home to a thriving entrepreneurship culture. Here is a collection of local, provincial and national organizations to help you start or strengthen your enterprise here in the valley.

Community Futures is a federal government initiative to assist communities with strategies for dealing with a changing economic environment. The program is based on the philosophy that local decision-making and local development are the most effective means for communities to shape their future. Community Futures can aid the building of entrepreneurial capacity with their wide range of business counseling and advisory services. Survival rates for Community Futures’ sponsored businesses outstrip the national average, often because of the combination of business counseling, loans and training.

Accelerate Okanagan states its mission as “To give new and growing technology-driven businesses the mentorship, connections and community they need to thrive.” Touring through their website shows a wealth of very targeted strategies to achieve that mission. They do a bang-up job of offering smart support from early stages of startup development to in depth market validation. Woven throughout is a strong sense of community, connecting seasoned pros with newbies and encouraging peer collaboration.

BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada) is Canada’s only financial institution dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurs. Their mission is to “help create and develop strong Canadian businesses through financing, advisory services and indirect financing, with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises.” Their website has a great selection of how-to articles, toolkits and webinars for business development.

Futurpreneur is a national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring entrepreneurs aged 18-39. Their mentoring program matches participants with a business expert from a network of more than 2,800 volunteer mentors.

Women’s Enterprise Centre was established to assist women in starting and growing businesses in BC. They provide services and resources, as well as referrals to resources and service providers throughout the province. Resources include: free business advice, loans, mentorship, skill development, networking and a resource library.

Small Business BC is a resource center for knowledge-based business products and services. Through ongoing operations and public and private sector partnerships, they offer services such as business registration and name searches, grant information, management advice, import/export info and market research services.

Cowork Penticton (South Okanagan) as well as Okanagan co+Lab (Kelowna), and Accelerate Okanagan (Kelowna) provide shared workspaces to help you spend as little as possible on office costs and build community between entrepreneurs. This is a global and growing trend and it’s doing well in the Okanagan. This speaks volumes for the vibrant and creative business community.

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