What is the Save Our Shops Initiative and Why is it Needed?
Small businesses and social enterprises across Canada have been severely impacted by the recent restrictions imposed on them to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. While government relief funds will help, they may not come soon enough and many businesses may not be eligible or will need more cash than is available. Save Our Shops has been designed to provide some help and relief to small businesses and social enterprises by making it easy and affordable to raise funds and to develop a free listing for shops that are ‘Open for Business’.
Why are three of Canada’s crowdfunding platforms working together instead of just hosting campaigns on their own platforms?
We wanted to make this a pan-Canadian initiative. Each platform focuses on a different type of crowdfunding and we want to be able to provide access to all of these in one easy place. Lending Loop and FrontFundr are focused on the Canadian Small Business Relief Bond while Wayblaze is focused on crowdfunding campaigns. Together, we can offer donation, rewards, debt, and equity types of crowdfunding, loans through The Relief Bond as well as a free listing using a searchable map.
Are you just making money off the backs of the donors or the local enterprise?
All three companies have reduced their commissions significantly, or entirely, so that we can generate the maximum amount of funds for local enterprises. We cannot eliminate all fees as we incur costs from various third parties. This is not a money-making initiative for us. We are working together because extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.
Where is this initiative offered?
SaveOurShops is a Canadian initiative:
• Listing of shops and donations and rewards-based crowdfunding is offered in all Canadian Provinces and Territories
• Investment in and loans from the Canadian Small Business Relief Bond are offered to shops located in [Frontfundr to insert answer]
• Small businesses that want to run debt or equity campaigns can only do so in British Columbia through Wayblaze
If I have other questions not listed here, how can I get in touch with you?
You can contact us through Wayblaze, the host of the Save Our Shops initiative, at email@example.com or 778-928-6010.
Questions from local enterprises
Why should I list my business/enterprise as ‘Open for Business’?
By listing your shop as ‘Open for Business’, you let your community know you’re still open and can encourage people to support your business. You can quickly create a listing page that lets people know about any special offers, opening hours or social distancing or pick-up and delivery instructions. You must create an account on Wayblaze, host of the Save our Shops initiative, to list your local enterprise.
Are there any fees associated with listing as “Open for Business”?
No. It is a free service provided by the Save Our Shops collaborative
What kinds of local enterprises are eligible to raise funds on Save Our Shops?
We are primarily targeting small, independent business and social enterprise non-profits that have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, if you are an individual, a large business or a government agency that wants to raise funds for an Covid-19 initiative that will in some way, help local enterprises, we would accept it.
Is there a limit to how much I can raise using crowdfunding?
There is no limit to how much you can raise using donations and rewards campaigns. For Debt-type crowdfunding campaigns (BC only) where the community is providing loans to the business, the maximum amount is $250,000 (twice per year) but you would set your funding goal at a level that you are confident that you can raise and repay, once you resume normal operations.
What happens if I don’t reach my crowdfunding goal?
Because we know that even a small amount of new funding could be critical at this time, we are recommending that you run a “Keep All You Raise” campaign. This means that even though you might set a fundraising target, you will keep all the money raised by the campaign even if you don’t reach your target.
What are the fees to run a donation/rewards crowdfunding campaign?
There are no up front costs and we do not charge a platform fee. However, there is a payment processing fee of 2.9% of funds raised + 30 cent/transaction that we are charged by the credit card processing company. We ask backers to add a voluntary tip to help us cover the costs of running the platform.
What are the fees to run a debt/equity crowdfunding campaign?
There is a platform fee of 3% (reduced from our standard 5%) of funds raised to run a debt or equity campaign because there is a lot of extra work to manage these types of campaigns. There is also a payment processing fee of 2.9% of funds raised + 30 cent/transaction that we are charged by the credit card processing company.
As a business, can I sell gift vouchers or coupons for future services?
Yes. Using a rewards-style campaign, you can give your customers a way to prepay for future services. This helps you create cash flow now but defer delivery until a later date.
As a business, can I sell products through the campaign?
Yes. Using a rewards-style campaign, you can offer your customers a way to purchase your products and services. The campaigns offer a limited shopping cart experience to allow businesses that may not have an online presence quickly create one. You will need to consider and arrange for delivery or pick-up of the items.
As a nonprofit or social enterprise, can we accept donations and issue tax receipts to donors?
Yes. Using a donations-style crowdfunding campaign, you can collect donations and donor tax receipt information. If your organization is recognized by Canada Revenue Agency as a registered charity, you can use this donor information to issue donor receipts including tax receipts.
As a nonprofit or social enterprise, can we run a crowdfunding campaign to offer rewards or perks?
Yes. Using a rewards-style campaign, you can use the perks capabilities of the platforms to help recognize the contribution of donors (e.g. Gold level supporter) or to actually issue them specific rewards.
Questions from residents that want to save a shop
Do I have to sign up in order to provide funding for a local enterprise?
No, you don’t. You can make a contribution to a shop as a guest backer. However, if you want to ‘like’ a campaign, or make a comment in support of a business, you will need to be registered with Wayblaze or FundRazr, who are hosting the campaigns on their platforms.
Why do I have to sign up just to ‘like’ or comment on a campaign?
Because we need to know that the ‘likes’ or comments are from real people and that one person or bots are not placing multiple votes. You can still be anonymous to other users by creating an on-line alias/personality, although we imagine that the small businesses would like to know who is supporting them.
If I back a debt or equity crowdfunding campaign, how much can I lend or invest?
The maximum amount you can invest in a debt or equity crowdfunding campaign (which is only available to BC residents) is $1,500 per person for each shop/campaign.
Questions from residents wanting to Share Ideas
If I have an idea that would help local businesses impacted by Covid-19, how can I share that idea?
We have created an “Ideas & Resources” link in the footer of the Save our Shops site, which you can access here. You must be signed up with Wayblaze and logged in to like ideas, share your ideas, or comment on ideas posted by others.
What if I disagree with an idea that has been suggested?
You can provide a comment on any idea so long as you are signed up with Wayblaze and logged in.
Questions from enterprises seeking a loan from the Relief Bond
What rate of interest will I be charged?
All companies and non-profits will be charged an annual interest rate of 6.99% on loans from the Canadian Small Business Relief Bond that is being offered through the Save our Shops initiative.
What are the loan repayment terms?
You must pay the interest on the loan every 3 months for up to 1 year. After that you must make principal and interest payments so that the entire loan is fully repaid within 6 years.
Is there any penalty for repaying the loan in less than 6 years?
You can repay the loan in part or in full (plus any accrued interest) at any time, without penalty.
Who is eligible for a loan from the Relief Bond?
To be eligible, your shop must meet the following criteria:
• You are a small business or non-profit social enterprise.
• You are headquartered and registered in Canada.
• You primarily serve local customers.
• Your enterprise has been negatively impacted by Covid-19.
• You were a “going concern” enterprise prior to the pandemic.
• You must meet the credit risk requirements of the Relief Bond managers.
To be eligible you must also run a crowdfunding campaign (which can be a donations-, rewards-, debt- or equity-type of crowdfunding campaign) to demonstrate community support.
How much can I apply for?
Once you have set up your crowdfunding campaign, you can apply for a loan of up to $50,000 from the Canada Small Business Relief Bond. You will need to raise a minimum of $10,000 through your crowdfunding campaign to begin receiving Relief Bond loan funds. If your application for funding through the Relief Bond is accepted, you will be eligible to receive a minimum of $100 in loan funds for every person that backs your crowdfunding campaign (subject to fund availability).
The first tranche of loan funds will be paid out when the local enterprise reaches the $10,000 crowdfunding threshold. Subsequent tranches will be paid out on the earlier of 1) the campaign end date or 2) every 90 days.
Questions from people who want to invest in the Relief Bond
How does the Canadian Small Business Relief Bond work?
Canadians anywhere in Canada can contribute to the Relief Bond and those funds are then used to provide low interest loans to local enterprises to help them increase their cash flow until they can resume normal operations. The bond pays an interest of 3% per annum and will be for a 6 year term.
What happens if businesses that receive a loan through the bond go bankrupt?
Only businesses that are considered credit-worthy and that were a “going-concern enterprise” prior to the pandemic will receive loans through the Relief Bond. However, it is possible that some businesses may not survive the Covid-19 crisis and this may reduce the rate of return that the bond pays out and could, in a worst case scenario, result in the lenders not recouping even the full principal amount they loaned.
What will Save our Shops do if businesses don’t pay back their loans?
Each enterprise that receives a loan will sign a legally-binding promissory note that commits them to repay the loan according to the terms of the promissory note. The Relief Bond managers will apply all the normal tools and remedies to recoup the monies owed. However, it is important to note that the loans will be unsecured, other than through corporate guarantees for repayment.
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