South Shore Opportunities Incorporated
For the Year End March 31, 2017
The year April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017 ended with an Operating Account deficit of $5,836. The Board used $129,000 interest earnings from Investment to supplement the deficit this year.
$244,178 was received in operating income from ACOA.
Revenues sourced from Employment Nova Scotia for the year included $23,873 for providing the Self-Employment Benefits program.
The corporation had budgeted $562,087 revenues plus the need to use $ 197,483 interest from investment earnings. Budgeted expenses were $562,087 Actual revenues achieved were $486,652. Actual interest from earnings used was $68,483 less than budgeted with an actual transfer of $129,000 to support operations. Actual expenses were $69,598 under budget due mainly to staff changes. The result of total operations was a $5,836 deficit.
The corporation did 2 extra contracts during 2016-2017:
- Entrepreneurial Training Fund; partnered with Atlantic Association CBDC/ACOA
- Consulting Advisory Services Program; partnered with NS association CBDC
South Shore Opportunities invested $14,692 in 11 businesses who took individual training in a business management skills. We have confirmed via the Entrepreneurial Training Program, that people gain a great deal from individualized learning and that individualized marketing assistance remains the most needed skill in business at the moment in the community, followed by bookkeeping assistance.
South Shore Opportunities approved 6 Consulting Advisory Services contracts with a total contribution of $22,197. Consulting advisory services program helped existing businesses determine how they might expand existing operations, diversify or place the business in a better position to sell to a new owner.
South Shore Opportunities had 105 new business client interviews, 26 from Queens Co and 79 from Lunenburg Co. There was a significant decrease in new inquiries in Queens County in 2016-2017, down 46 new inquiries compared to 2015-2016. Lunenburg County remained similar to previous years. As a result, total new inquiries were below the historical average of 150 new inquiries per year
As a result of these new inquiries, South Shore Opportunities provided assistance with business plans and other technical assistance and business counselling sessions. The majority of new clients came from existing clients. The banks continue to be a good source of referrals. In 2017 the Atlantic Association cbdc website has garnered regular referrals also.
South Shore Opportunities originally received $2.4 Million for community investment from various Federal Government sources (Employment Immigration, Human Resource Development Canada, Service Canada and ACOA) between start-up 1992 and 1998. The organization has committed $18,631,301.13 to March 31, 2017.
The year end March 31, 2017 saw 29 formal requests for investment from the General Investment Fund, 9 for Queens Co. and 20 for Lunenburg Co. This is a reduction in Queens and increase in Lunenburg compared to the past few years however not dis-similar to a few years ago for Queens County.
The request for investment totalled $1,918,835 which is up $817,109 ,from 2015-2016 application and is third only to 1997-98 and 1998-1999 for the amount of dollars included in application requests.
During this fiscal year South Shore Opportunities committed 86% of the requests , committing $ 1,679,835, 25 loans, up in both number of loans and dollar value of loans committed from 2015-2016. 2016-2017 number of loans approved was 39% higher than the 25 year average number of loans approved (20.76) and was the most loan dollars approved in the organization’s 26 year history.
South Shore Opportunities had a 86% approval rate in 2016-2017, similar to approval rates over the past number of years.
This year, 2016-2017, was South Shore Opportunities’ largest year of investment, in terms of dollars invested, approving $1,679,835 investment.
The current year investment was partially used to potentially create 8 FTE jobs and maintain 59 FTE jobs, continuing the trend that the investment impacts maintaining existing jobs rather than creating new jobs.
Write-Offs and Allowance for Doubtful Accounts
Write-offs to the general Investment Fund during this fiscal year totalled $ 60,634.16 covering 2 loans for 2 businesses. Including the write-offs this fiscal year, net write-offs are now at 11.9 % of regular fund commitments since inception.
Following analysis of the loan portfolio and individual loans, the organization chose to increase the Allowance for Doubtful Accounts to $820,000 which is a conservative 27% of the outstanding loan portfolio.
The combined Investment Fund completed the year with $3.08 Million Loans Receivable, covering 68 loans, after write-offs. This is similar to the number of loans outstanding at end of 2015-2016. At March 31, 2017 there was $690,000 available for investment.
Referencing Community Futures of Tomorrow funding formula , indicates a 1.5% operating contract penalty if investment funds loaned to the community or ACCBIF are less than 70%. Based on disbursed figures, this organization ended the year March 31, 2017 with 74.9% utilization.
During 2016-2017 the Board of Directors engaged an outside consultant to conduct a survey of customer service. The Board was particularly interested to know if the priority of providing technical assistance in the form of guidance through financial planning of a business and guidance regarding the typical red tape related to starting a business, were important to the public. The results were complete endorsement of the organization’s practices.
95 clients completed the survey by telephone and 57 by email. 74% of respondents did not apply for a loan. The responses varied only slightly between telephone and email respondents. Telephone respondents identified the top three services as very important: Counselling (listening and suggestions) 66% ; Guidance with steps in starting a business 53%; Access to financing 52%.
Online respondents identified the top services as : Counselling (having someone listen to my ideas and make suggestions) 87%; Guidance with navigating red tape 65%; Guidance with financial projections 61% rated as very important.
When asked if they would recommend South Shore Opportunities, 64% said they were highly likely to recommend the organization to a friend or colleague. 20% are passive and 16% are detractors. These three categories resulted in a Net Promoter Score (NPS). South Shore Opportuniteis Net Promotore Score of 41% indicates that South Shore Opportunities has clients who are loyal and will continue to refer the services to others. For reference, the consultant advised that companies that achieve a NPS of 50% are considered “World Class”. The consultant recommended that South Shore Opportunities share the fact that it earned a Net Promoter Score of 41%.
The Board of Directors continues to both advertise publicly and utilize networks to continually seek new members of the Board. The Board remains committed to seeking a broad range of geographic and industry business expertise to maintain the important access to capital for small business in the community of Queens and Lunenburg counties.