ENL was created in 1991 to provide decentralized, regional access to government business and economic programs from 23 offices staffed by 190 people. Funding decisions for loans up to $100,000 were made in the regions by officials familiar with local business conditions. Since then, ENL has down-sized and prior to this budget had 16 offices and a staff of approximately 140.
In it's five years of operation less than 10% of the approximately 8,000 people using ENL's services made funding applications. The majority were seeking information and counselling.
Funding approvals also revealed that most applicants required sums of less than $100,000. Only 12% of ENL funding approvals were for sums greater than $100,000, yet this group of clients consumed 60% of ENL's capital budget.
One of the most common reasons for business failure is not a lack of funding but a lack of business management skills and business information. Accordingly the Department of Development and Rural Renewal is refocusing its efforts to achieve a more appropriate balance of supporting both the business financing and business development needs of clients.
It is significant to note that there remain numerous other business lenders in Newfoundland and Labrador including the Business Development Bank of Canada, Business Development Centres, ACOA, the Small Business Loans Program offered through commercial banks, and the Atlantic Investment Fund.