Awareness and Satisfaction Study Final Report (2018)

Prepared for: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Prepared by: R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd.

August 2018

Contact Information:
Canada Small Business Financing Program
c/o Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0H5
Toll free info line: 1-8669591699
Fax: 13432911837

Executive Summary

The Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP) is a federal government program, the objective of which is to help small businesses obtain access to financing that they may otherwise have difficulty in obtaining. Through this program, financial institutions make loans to businesses. The financial institutions then register these loans with the program and, should the loan default, the government covers a portion of the lender's losses. The government collects fees to help offset the costs of the program, namely the cost of loans that default. Annually, the CSBFP leverages loans totalling approximately $1 billion. The program is administered by the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED).

Previous program awareness and satisfaction studies were conducted in 2001, 2007 and 2013. In 2018, ISED commissioned R.A. Malatest & Associates, Ltd. to conduct the fourth such study to date.

This study aims to collect information on awareness and satisfaction with the CSBFP from program participants ("borrowers") and the broader small business community ("non-participants") and to see how program awareness, knowledge and satisfaction are changing over time. It also seeks to examine how these dimensions are influenced by industry sector, region, firm size and age, among other factors.

Overall, this study finds that awareness of the CSBFP remains low among both borrowers and non-participants. Borrowers who received loans covered by the program between 2013 and 2018 were less likely to recall that the federal government supported their loan than was previously observed. Borrowers primarily learnt of the program through financial institution officials. With that being said, borrowers' awareness of the program varied from one region to the next, with borrowers in Québec being considerably less aware of the program than those out West. Among borrowers, accommodation and food services was the sector most aware of the program, while the transportation & warehousing sector was the least.

Program participants and the broader small-business community believe the program's terms and conditions are generally reasonable, particularly in Québec. Interestingly, non-participants were more likely than borrowers to find the program's terms and conditions reasonable. A large percentage of borrowers and non-participants alike, however, found the program's registration fee and interest rate to be unreasonable. Nevertheless, 87% of borrowers and 75% of non-participants indicated there was a high or very high need for the program (or a program like it) in the small business community, and 90% of borrowers and 64% of non-participants indicated that they are somewhat or very likely to consider taking a loan through the program for their future financing needs. Finally, most borrowers who were aware of their participation in the program were largely satisfied with the program and reported that it had a positive impact on their ability to grow their business.

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