Inverness County businesses can pitch for funding

April 24, 2023

A rising tide lifts all boats.

That is the hope of a fund established earlier this year to help Cape Breton businesses with investments of $100,000 to $150,000.

The Cape Breton Capital Group (CBCG) was launched in April by a group of 26 Cape Breton businesspeople to aid both new and established businesses throughout the island with a $1.3 million fund. Holly Chisholm, the group’s manager of operations and investment, says a second fund is in the works, and she’d love to hear from potential investors from other parts of Cape Breton, including Inverness County, with the hopes of establishing a second fund.

“They can just reach out to me,” adds Chisholm, who is CBCG’s only paid staff member. One of the benefits of being an investor is the opportunity to invest (individually) outside of the group.

“That’s something that’s a little more unique about our fund, because we do encourage investment outside of the fund,” she explains. “I think one of the benefits of being in the fund is that people have access to the applications that are coming in, to see what’s out there.”

Cape Breton businesses looking to benefit from the fund can go on the CBCG website and download an application form. If they meet the qualifications, then they’re invited to make a pitch to the group. Chisholm says the CBCG plans to make four or five investments per year.

“We’re seeing some applications,” she says. “There have been some interesting things come through the group so far.”

“We have seen some pitches, but we haven’t announced any investments yet.”

Chisholm, who is a former program coordinator with Innovacorp, the Nova Scotia crown corporation that manages an early-stage venture capital fund, says a renewed optimism around the Cape Breton economy spurred the formation of the group.

“I think it’s the growth that’s being seen here. You see a really strong startup community forming in Atlantic Canada in general, and I think the group just saw the need for private equity to be available, specifically in the region of Cape Breton, to companies that are trying to build here.”

A number of factors are contributing to the upturn of the island’s economy, including the recent influx of international post-secondary students at Cape Breton University, many of whom are launching businesses here, as well as former Cape Bretoners who are returning home, and others with no connection to the island who are attracted by a change in lifestyle.

She says another benefit of the fund is the opportunity for successful applicants to be mentored by members of the group.

“We do have such a broad range of experience in the group that we do want that to be available to the community, whether it be through advice, or just growing your network. That’s something that the group felt was really important to include in the mix.”