March 28, 2008 - News

Microcredit, macro gain
Cohen MacInnis was stuck. The 20-year-old real estate developer from Antigonish had several promising deals in the fire, but because of his age and limited credit history, he was finding it tough to get financing. One day while doing his personal banking at the Bergengren Credit Union in Antigonish, a staffer told him about its microcredit program. There was a little paperwork involved, but in short order his Highland Place Group had a $5,000 line of credit that gave him the flexibility to keep the deals alive. "It was an important boost when I really needed it," he said Thursday. Today the group controls 15 residential units and 28,000 square feet of commercial space. It is renovating a landmark business in downtown New Glasgow and this week announced it was a partner in a new self-storage facility planned for Antigonish. Globally, microcredit programs offer small loans to individuals who might not otherwise qualify for financial assistance. In Africa and Asia, the loans, sometimes for as little as a few dollars, are made to the poorest women who start small businesses to improve life for themselves and their families.