Don’t see the answer to your question? Contact one of our friendly Team Members for assistance.

  • General questions contact Charlene at 519-776-4611 Ext. 12#
  • Loan specific questions contact Bruce at 519-776-4611 Ext. 14#

Community Futures Essex County is a Federally funded not for profit organization that exists to provide financing to small and medium sized businesses, and social enterprises, located in Essex County. The businesses we fund have typically been unable to obtain the required financing from traditional financial institutions, or they need a more flexible funding option. Start-ups and existing businesses are welcome to apply.

Our mandated service area includes only municipalities in Essex County, Ontario however there are Community Futures offices across Canada serving all rural communities. A listing of offices across Ontario can be found on the CF Ontario website https://cfontario.ca/ If you are located in an urban center like Windsor, the Business Development Bank of Canada may be able to assist www.bdc.ca

Team members gather information from you and then prepare a package that goes out to our Board of Directors. All members of our Board live and/or work in Essex County so they understand the local economy and are personally invested in our community. The Board of Directors make all loan decisions at their monthly Board meeting. If needed, they will meet more frequently as they understand that sometimes loan requests are time sensitive.

Our contract with the federal government sets the minimum and maximum rates we can charge. Our interest rates are bank prime plus two to five percent. During the application process we’ll let you know what your rate is likely to be. If your loan is approved, once you sign the Offer to Finance, your rate becomes fixed so you’ll know exactly how much your payment will be each month, no surprises. If the term of your loan is longer than five years, we’ll adjust your interest rate at the five-year mark based on bank prime at that time.

As Team members pull together your information to put together a package for the Board, we’ll look at several factors to determine the appropriate interest rate. Before your loan request goes to the Board we’ll let you know the rate we’re proposing to them based on assessed risk. The Board may choose to adjust the rate but usually it goes through as proposed.

Once we have everything we need, we’ll advise you of the date our Board of Directors will be considering your request. 98% of the time a decision is made the night they meet. Our Team members will be very excited to let you know the outcome the very next day!

Any existing or start-up small or medium sized enterprise (SME), or Social Enterprise, located in Essex County (excluding Windsor) can apply.

The federal government’s definition of SME is: “Small and medium-sized enterprises” having less than 500 employees and annual sales revenue of less than $20 million, which produce goods and services for the market economy, regardless of their business or legal structure.

Their definition of Social Enterprise is: Businesses producing goods and services for the market economy that manage their operations and redirect their surpluses in pursuit of social, environmental and community goals.

If all that legal jargon confused you, give us a call and we’ll help you know if you’re eligible to apply.

Community Futures term loans provide access to capital for a variety of uses including, but not limited to: Inventory purchases, equipment purchases, working capital, purchase of the building your business is operating in, advertising and marketing expenses, digital transformation costs, employee training, and almost any other costs related to starting, maintaining, or expanding your business.

When structuring your loan we take many things into consideration including ability to make the payments. This means that often our loan term, and amortization, is longer than a traditional lender’s may be. We can set the term (time you have to repay) of your loan from one to ten years. We can stretch the amortization period up to fifteen years in certain circumstances.

You may be wondering, if we amortize your loan over fifteen years and give you a ten-year term (ten years to pay it back), won’t I still owe money at the end of the ten years? Yes, in that scenario you will still owe us at the end of your term. At the end of your term, we’ll help you determine whether to refinance that balance at your regular financial institution, or whether we should set up a new loan for you to get the remaining balance paid off. Since our loans are repayable at any time without penalty, meaning you can also make lump sum payments any time you want, loans often get paid out sooner than the number of months we amortized it over anyway.

Small loan? Great! We love small loans as we know they’ll help you with something specific you need. For loans of any amount up to $10,000 (we call that a microloan) the application process is easier for you (and us) and the approval process is simplified too. Just contact Bruce at bruce@cfessexcounty.ca or 519-776-4611 ext. 14 to get started on a microloan application.

If your idea of a small loan is bigger than $10,000 no problem, we still love those loans too. Just follow the instructions on the LET’S GET STARTED page and we’ll work together on your request. Or contact Bruce, he’s always happy to help.

Yes! Often there’s a reason behind a person’s credit score being less than stellar (often beyond their control) so we’re here to listen to your story. Credit score is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to assessing a loan request. If other aspects of the loan application are strong then credit becomes less important. The most important part is to let us know up front instead of us figuring it out when we do your credit check later.

To help preserve the credit of our clients, we typically wait until we’ve done the rest of our due diligence and are pretty sure the request is going to the Board before pulling an Equifax Report. That means, if you didn’t tell us upfront, we’ll find out right near the end and then we’ll wonder why you didn’t share that information with us. After all, we’re a friendly Team who are here to help, not judge.

While we are unable to offer a line of credit to our clients, we can request approval for the full amount of funding you require and then provide the funds to you in multiple disbursements. Together we’ll figure out how much you need upfront, and we’ll disburse that amount on closing. After that, give us a few days’ notice when additional funds are required. That way you’re only paying for what you need since payments are based only on the dollars you’ve received so far, not on the total you’ve been approved for.

You can make lump sum payments on your loan at any time without penalty or restrictions, so as you pay your loan down you always have the option of asking us to top it back up to the original approved amount. That’s typically an easy process (a bit of paperwork to update) so while it’s not a line of credit, it can give you some of the same flexibility.

Yes, the program is restricted to the funding of a business or social enterprise. Loan applicants must be able to show revenue, or at least forecasted revenue, from business activity. Sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations, cooperatives etc. can apply.

Absolutely! Get in touch with one of our Team members, typically Charlene at charlene@cfessexcounty.ca or 519-776-4611 Ext. 12#, and let us know how we can help. We’ll answer the questions we can, and then we’ll refer you to other organizations and resources in Windsor-Essex for further assistance.

Absolutely! Get in touch with one of our Team members, typically Charlene at charlene@cfessexcounty.ca or 519-776-4611 Ext. 12#, and let us know how we can help. We’ll answer the questions we can, and then we’ll refer you to other organizations and resources in Windsor-Essex for further assistance.

We do not offer any grant programs, only repayable term loans. Check out BUSINESS SUPPORT PROGRAMS on the Resources page of our website to see if there are any grant or incentive programs you may be able to access. This document is updated twice a year by the entrepreneurial ecosystem partners in Windsor-Essex so it’s a reliable source of information.

There’s no simple answer to this question as each application is different. Timing depends a lot on how quickly you’re able to provide us with the information we need for assessing your request. We make every loan application a priority but if your request is time sensitive, please let us know. Once we receive everything we need, we put together a package for our Board of Directors to review. They meet monthly but they’ll meet in-between if needed as they understand sometimes loan requests can’t wait.

Once approved, we prepare the legal documents in-house. You’ll come to our office to sign them and then the funds will be sent to you electronically. If there is a mortgage as part of our security, then you tell us which lawyer you want to use and we send the paperwork to them. You’ll sign your documents at the lawyer’s office and they’ll provide the funds to you. You’ll also be responsible for paying the laywer’s invoice. You may want to ask your lawyer in advance what their workload is like and have them give you an idea of when they’ll be able to work on your file, especially if your loan is time sensitive.

Our loan application fee is $250.00 and is only payable if your loan is approved! We typically deduct the fee from the first disbursement on your loan. On microloans up to $10,000 the fee is often reduced.

There are no annual fees.

There are no penalties for early payout, you only pay a $25.00 fee to cover our cost for discharging the security registrations.

We know you don’t plan on any of your loan payments being returned but if it does happen, we charge a $40.00 NSF fee.

Typically, we are looking for the owner to be contributing approximately 25% of the total funding required, particularly for start-ups. Each loan application is assessed on its own merits and owner contribution is calculated on a case-by-case basis.

We understand that some businesses are very seasonal and expecting you to make the same payment every month year-round just isn’t feasible. We can work with you on a payment plan that does work for you. We can bulk up your payments during your busy season then have you make interest only payments in your off-season. We’ve even set up loans such that all payments are made during the operating season. A couple of balloon payments per year after peaks in sales (ie: Christmas or summer holidays) goes a long way to making payments affordable during less busy times. The variations are limitless, so we’ll work together on a solution you are comfortable with.

Yes, we pride ourselves on our ability to work with you to find a payment schedule that fits your unique needs. The tools we use to adjust monthly payment amounts may include: longer amortization, interest only period, seasonal payments, balloon payments, and varying payments throughout the year.

Since there’s no restrictions on prepayment of your loan, you can make lump sum payments of any amount at any time. If your loan payments are up to date, those lump sum payments are applied directly to the outstanding principal!

Absolutely! Since there’s no restrictions on prepayment of your loan, you can make lump sum payments of any amount at any time. If your loan payments are up to date, those lump sum payments are applied directly to the outstanding principal!

You can mail or drop off a cheque, or send us the money by e-transfer or any other electronic method. If you’re sending the payment electronically, please let us know by contacting one of our Team members or by emailing us at help@cfessexcounty.ca

We determine the required security on a case-by-case basis. There are various factors we take into consideration, but the main ones are: size of loan, perceived risk, experience of management team, total debt, and historical financials and/or forecasted cash flow. All loans will require the signing of a Promissory Note and a General Security Agreement on the assets of the business. Other security we may require could include registration on a specific business or personal asset, personal guarantee from the owner(s) or a third-party guarantor, mortgage on a commercial or residential property, etc.

After receiving a completed loan application and other requested documents, we’ll let you know what the security requirements will be. You can decide then if you’re comfortable proceeding with your loan request.

A fixed amount of funding was provided by the federal government, and they have entrusted us to use it to support our local, rural economic growth through term loans. The federal government, through Fed Dev Ontario, provides our office with operational funding each year but they do not provide us with additional money to lend out (except in the case of emergency funding programs like RRRF). The idea is that we lend out the funds to businesses who need it, they pay us back over time, and we lend it out again. The funding is basically recycled so its there to support our communities over the years.

Our loan amounts can range from $150 to $150,000. In exceptional circumstances we may be able to go up to $300,000 (certain conditions apply).

If you require more than $150,000 we will work with our partners at other financial institutions to see if together we can come up with the amount you need. Of course, we won’t share any of your information with them without your permission. We commonly work with local Banks, Credit Unions, Farm Credit Corporation, and Business Development Bank of Canada to customize a lending solution that meets our client’s needs.

Since our loan decisions are made by our Board of Directors who all live, work and play in Essex County, they truly understand the local market and the needs of our communities. Our lending is story-based and depends less on debt ratios, credit scores, or length of time in business. Our Team works with you through the full lending process, from application to signing of legal documents, so we really get to know you and your business. We’re able to customize repayment terms to work around any special needs you may have. You’ll always need your financial institution for your banking needs like credit cards, bank accounts and lines of credit but sometimes they aren’t able to meet all of your lending needs, so we’re here to fill that gap. Many of our loan clients return to us for all of their lending needs simply because they enjoyed our process and approach, and our friendly Team!

The answer to that question is “No, but…” Our loans are intended to be for funding the start-up, growth or maintenance of your business, and existing debt is typically for things that have already happened. But…we will look at your request on a case-by-case basis as sometimes that existing debt is keeping you from being able to grow or expand, in which case we may be able to help.

Besides the technical stuff like having flexibility in structuring of the terms of our loans, we’re UNconventional in other ways that may be even more important to you!

For years lenders have depended on the “C’s of Lending” when making their decisions (Credit, Collateral, Capital, Capacity, etc.). Community Futures Essex County focuses on its own four C’s as the foundation of everything we do.


We embrace our client’s challenges and take the time to understand their story in an open minded, caring, and confidential manner.


We get to know our clients, understand their needs, and work with them to achieve their goals.


As part of the entrepreneurial eco-system we are connectors working together with business professionals, our volunteers, and the community to provide personalized programs and services to support our clients.


We are a trusted local resource with over twenty-five years of experience and dedication to providing clients with measurable results.

A business plan is not a requirement for applying however it is helpful to us if you happen to have one. For start-ups, if you don’t have a business plan please be sure to complete and submit our BUSINESS PROPOSAL document. If you’re an existing business expanding into something new, we may require you to complete that document also.