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Welcome to the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber works to ensure the Okanagan region will become the most economically prosperous region - and the most desirable place to live and work - in Canada. As the area's leading membership driven business organization, we are committed to providing value to our members.


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  • What exactly is Venture Capital & where does it hide?
    Nov 20, 2015

    Venture Capital is a critical part of the Canadian economy because it provides the funding that enables innovative, early-stage technology companies to survive and grow.

    These fast growing firms represent just 5 per cent of the companies in Canada but they have a huge impact on our ability to innovate and on our prosperity, accounting for 45 per cent of new job creation.

    Designing policies to support and stimulate entrepreneurial ventures is a challenge; there is no single sector they occupy, nor do they have common business strategies. But one problem is common and acute among these unusual enterprises—almost all have difficulty finding the capital they need to realize their business plans.

    Improving and growing the venture capital industry is one strategy government can pursue that could significantly benefit most fast-growing entrepreneurial firms. Such a strategy has the potential to transform Canada—to make it more innovative—by creating new businesses, technologies and jobs. It is particularly timely to consider such a strategy.

    The Canadian economy is challenged by headwinds that will reduce the rate of GDP growth and job creation in the coming years. The natural resources and commodities that were so central to business investment could be facing many years of price weakness. If Canada’s traditional sources of growth are ebbing, then it needs to increase productivity and innovation in order to expand its economy into new services and technologies.

    More importantly, a study by Deloitte shows that many Canadian companies are not ready for “disruptive innovation”—the huge leaps of technology that will put our traditional businesses at risk. Canada must accelerate its own innovation and develop new technologies here at home to avoid getting left behind. What can government do? Canada has already invested massively in R&D. In fact, public spending on research and development, at 0.81 per cent of GDP places Canada ahead of countries like the U.S., the U.K. and Japan (but still behind countries like Germany, Sweden and Finland.) The trouble is that Canada lags on the commercialization of products. How do we get our great ideas developed and into markets? By helping entrepreneurs to build new innovative companies.

    A critical ingredient is having a vibrant, thriving venture capital industry that can provide the investment and expertise to turn ideas into innovation.

    Venture capital is a form of equity financing for innovation-based early-stage technology firms. These types of start-ups are creating brand new products, so the growth potential is enormous, but the risk of failure is also very high. That is why traditional forms of funding, such as bank loans and asset-based lending, are not appropriate. Firstly, these companies have little, if any, of the tangible assets that are normally used as security in conventional financing. Most of their assets are intangible (software, R&D results, intellectual property and people). Lenders find it difficult to collateralize debt with products that have not yet demonstrated any market success. There is a high level of uncertainty linked to R&D activities and the development of unproven new technologies.

    Many companies are seeking to create new needs and new products in markets where it is difficult to foresee what the demand might be. Particularly with technology companies, new solutions and business models emerge all the time and many of these might not work. There is also a high level of information asymmetry between the entrepreneur and the investor for technology start-ups. It is not enough to review the financial statements and business plan. In brand new companies where there are no revenues or profits, the investor needs a detailed understanding of what is going on inside the company to judge whether it is headed for success. Again this illustrates why conventional lenders such as chartered banks, have little incentive to target these clients.

    Finally, it often takes a long time, up to seven years or more, to develop, commercialize, market and start generating revenues—the stage where companies can launch an initial public offering (IPO) or are acquired. Venture capital investors do not lend money. Instead, they buy shares of a firm, which gives them products.

    The Canadian Chamber of Commerce offers a variety of proposals, supported by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, that we will take to government to help transform the venture capital industry in Canada.

    - KCC

  • The Red Wave: What it Means for Canadian Business
    Nov 09, 2015

    Canadians have spoken decisively and given the Liberals a majority that no one thought possible. (Why do we even read polls anymore? Maybe we’d be better off scanning the stars.)

    Here’s why the pollsters got it wrong. The number of people who voted Liberal shot up a staggering 149%, from 2.8 million in 2011 to 6.9 million this past Election Day. Meanwhile, the Conservative vote didn’t budge, from 5.7 million voters last time to 5.6 million, as the base stayed loyal. Where did all these votes come from? Strategic voting played a small part in Mr. Trudeau’s triumph, as the Liberal surge pulled just under a million votes from the NDP. But mostly, the Libs benefited from a massive increase in people coming to the polls as 69% of Canadians voted, up from 58%, an additional three million newbies. Mr. Trudeau changed the landscape and will enjoy a reasonable honeymoon owing to the size of his victory. But what does it all mean for Canadian business?

    The good news is a stable, substantial majority gives much more predicatiblity to business. It’s certainly far better than a shaky Liberal minority being pulled to the left by the NDP, perhaps forced into higher corporate taxes or against the TPP or other “barbaric economic practices.”

    Infrastructure will also get a big boost. The Liberals have promised to set aside a portion of their $60 billion plan for roads, ports and gateways and they have committed to improving Canada-U.S. border crossings and cargo inspection. Studies show that every $1 of infrastructure spending adds $1.70 to final GDP. Thus, the added spending could boost Canadian economic growth by almost 1%.

    More good news is the renewed focus on trade. The Liberals have told us they’ll continue to pursue free trade agreements. We expect them to implement Canada’s deal with the Europe Union as well as the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trade negotiations with India are currently stalled, but we hope they will also be a priority.

    On taxes, the Canadian Chamber was delighted when Mr. Trudeau so eloquently explained that corporate taxes should not be increased (a major drag on investment and competitiveness in a globalized world.) The area the Canadian Chamber is watching with concern is payroll taxes. Firstly, the Liberal government will seek to expand the Canada Pension Plan, a position we support, but it may be politically tempting to push costs onto employers. CPP contributions act as a tax that makes it more expensive to hire staff, which can depress employment. The other major payroll tax, employment insurance, has been pulling in far more money than it was paying out for many years and so it was set to decline from 1.88% to 1.47% in 2017. The Liberals have promised to tax an extra $500 million of revenues from keeping the EI rate at 1.65% in order to pay for additional training. The Canadian Chamber has for a long time been vehemently opposed to using EI premiums for purposes other than funding the insurance it provides.

    As the largest business association in Canada, we see a lot of positives in the new government’s platform and we share in the country’s enthusiasm. With new ministers, new staff and a new leadership style from the top, there is an unprecedented opportunity to work with the government and have our voices heard.


    -Hendrik Brakel, CCC 

  • And the Winners Are...
    Oct 22, 2015
    KELOWNA, October 22, 2015 - Thirty-five finalists were honoured at the 28th Annual Business Excellence Awards presented by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and Platinum Sponsors the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP  last night at the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort. 

     "It was a fabulous event with recognition given for significant accomplishments in our business community," stated event-goer, Michael Lowen. Guests were treated to a 3 course dinner, a James Bond-esque Jazz performance by internationally-renowned singer, Anna Jacyszyn and commentary by jovial morning-radio duo, David & Tony of K96.3.  Eleven recipients were presented with awards among a crowd of 350 supporters. 
    The Business Excellence Award Recipients for 2015:
    1. RISING STAR AWARD: Cottage Quilting Ltd.
      Sponsored by: FortisBC
    2. MICRO BUSINESS AWARD (1-3 employees): CareSmart Seniors Consulting
      Sponsored by: Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board
    3. SMALL BUSINESS AWARD (4-15 employees): Bellamy Homes
      Sponsored by: Prospera Credit Union
    4. MID-SIZE BUSINESS AWARD (16-50 employees): SK Form & Finish Inc. 
      Sponsored by: BDO Canada LLP
    5. SOCIAL ENTERPRISE AWARD: Habitat for Humanity
      Sponsored by: Urban Systems Ltd.
    6. YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR AWARD:  AJ Hazzi, Vantage West Realty Inc. 
      Sponsored by: Accelerate Okanagan
    7. SUSTAINABILITY AWARD: Summerhill Pyramid Winery
      Sponsored by: Interior Savings Credit Union
      Sponsored by: Tourism Kelowna
    9. MARKETER AWARD: martketer inc.
      Sponsored by: Pushor Mitchell LLP
      Sponsored by: UBC Okanagan
    11. LARGE BUSINESS AWARD (51+ employees): Emil Anderson Construction    
      Sponsored by: Grant Thornton LLP
    12. BUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR: Theresa Arsenault
      Sponsored by: MNP LLP
    Speeches by recipients were educational, heartfelt and meaningful and nominees everywhere were seen congratulating each other. "Although we did not win, we feel extremely proud to make it into the finals and be among the brightest minds of our business community," beamed Yoree Grozenok, Owner of 1-800-GOT-JUNK and Finalist in the Sustainability Category.   "We are very humbled and honored to win the Mid-size Business of the Year award," gushed Angie Kraushar of SK Form & Finish, "Our team had an incredible night".

    This year's Award Ceremony was a great reflection of the passion, entrepreneurial & community spirit of our region as well as further proof of yesterday's statistical release naming Kelowna second best place in the Nation to start a business. 
  • Cloud Accounting in Canada
    Oct 14, 2015

    A common question posed by business owners like you to accounting professionals here in Canada: What’s the best way for a small business owner to generate business income / expense statements and file tax returns efficiently? The answer? It depends: Some people are comfortable working in Excel spreadsheets and use these to start, while others endeavor to learn some sort of desktop accounting software. As your business grows or your financial reporting requirements change, you might find yourself exploring other, more advanced, options or perhaps hiring an accountant to help manage your books. If you decide to make a switch in accounting software, it can be overwhelming.

    There are several available in the Canadian marketplace, but the most popular desktop software among small business owners in Canada is Sage 50 (which was formerly Simply Accounting) or Quickbooks. Some things that frustrate small business owners with these types of desktop accounting software programs include the joys of downloading and installing it, figuring out how to create the kinds of invoices and reports required, and attempting to manage inventory. There are also program updates to contend with and necessary backups to guard against technological failures. If you do need an accountant, you have to hope that your desktop accounting software is compatible with theirs. Desktop accounting software typically starts at a cost of about $500 with fees for adding more than two users the norm. At the end of every month small business owners need to spend time reconciling monthend bank statements with entries, carefully tracking receipts in case you end up being audited. Payroll functionality with desktop accounting software is variable. Does this seem a bit of a clunky process in today’s online world? It is!

    If you would like a better, easier, faster way to manage your business financials, move your business forward with XERO the world’s “beautiful accounting software” and experience the freedoms that operating “in the cloud” will allow you to enjoy! When you switch your business accounting to Xero, you say farewell to downloads, installs, upgrades, and backups because you no longer need a server! If that sounds too good to be true, just wait because there’s more: You can login to Xero from any device wherever you are in the world and check how your business is operating so you can make timely, informed decisions. As an accountant, CarolAnn Brouwer spent much of her career training businesses on how to use desktop accounting software in Canada. But when she heard about “cloud accounting”, she did some “due diligence” to find out what it all meant for security, users, and accessibility, and “ I soon realized that this was going to be a game changer for Canadian smalland mediumsized business owners”, she says. Her favourite cloud accounting solution? Xero. Below are a few of the many reasons she recommends making the switch:

    ● No more downloads, installs, or updates. Truly you will never need to do this again – ever! Just login.

    ● You can access your accounting on any device from wherever you are in the world.

    ● No more endofthemonth bank statement reconciliation headaches because your bank feeds reconcile to the bank items in Xero daily – fast and simple.

    ● Users? How does unlimited sound? With no extra fees!

    ● Assign and manage various roles to your staff (who can even work from home).

    ● Setup foreign currency within seconds, plus have currency gains or losses calculated for you as accounting in the cloud with Xero has you connected to XE.com.

    ● Easily keep track of receipts; simply take a picture with your smartphone or other device and attach it to the invoice.

    ● Need to invoice an entire group? Create just one version and share.

    ● App Integration is important to Xero and with more than 400 available if you need more than the basics you can select a solution that’s just right for your business.

    ● It’s simple and easy to use – designed for the business owner.

    Would you like to know more about moving from your current accounting system to Xero ? You are invited to join us on Thursday November 5, 2015 at Kelowna Chamber of Commerce where Xero Global Trainer and founder of Accounting Anywhere , CarolAnn Brouwer, will speak about Cloud Accounting in Canada. She will demonstrate the highlights and answer any questions you might have about switching to Xero. Register early as seating is limited.