The purpose of the study is to determine the impact of the work being done by the four Francophone Economic Development Organizations (FEDOs), which receive funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD). These organizations are:
These organizations have been receiving WD funding since 1998 and are part of the Western Canada Business Service Network (WCBSN).
The study analyzes impacts for a period of five (five) years, from April 1, 2003 to March 31, 2008. Each FEDO received $500,000 for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005, and has since received $545,000 annually to implement programming under three WD programs:
A fourth program, Access to Capital, is implemented only in Manitoba, where the CDEM manages two investment funds.
Although WD can account for all results of activities funded by the WCBSN, those results are considered to emanate from the members of the WCBSN themselves and are not impartially validated by a third party. The study is therefore designed to provide an evaluation of the impact of the FEDOs' projects on communities and clients, an evaluation based on objective evidence.
In accordance with its mandate, the impact study presents the major findings of best practices in terms of impact, data collection and performance reporting, as well as recommended improvements in those regards.
The study is based on three lines of evidence:
This report is composed of the following parts:
The study conducted a detailed analysis of 124 different projects among the four FEDOs. Those 124 projects cover the range of services provided by the FEDOs in these two programs, including:
The study did not analyze in detail the number of partnerships created or the number of persons trained, but rather the outcomes of those partnerships and that training. As objective evidence, the focus groups made it possible to validate the documentation provided by the FEDOs regarding projects in the communities.
The impact study concludes that the FEDOs play an important direct support role in the economic planning of Francophone communities and in the implementation of community projects. The FEDOs have greatly influenced the development of Francophone communities in Western Canada. One of the key findings of the focus groups is that partnership with the municipalities is one of the key determinants of successful project delivery.
The focus groups reveal an unexpected positive effect of the WD program. The presence of a local Francophone community is increasingly perceived as a major economic asset by Anglophone municipal authorities. They recognize and appreciate how important a Francophone community is to tourism. They also appreciate the linguistic and cultural bridges that Francophone communities in the West create for establishing economic ties with Quebec, France and other French-speaking countries. The FEDOs make it possible to discover the hidden potential in a mixed community, or a community in which Francophones are a minority. Anglophones greatly appreciate that the FEDOs work in English as well as in French, and that they support the economic development of the entire community and not just the Francophones. This tends to unite the population.
Satisfaction with the performance of the FEDOs is very high in 12 of the 15 focus groups, particularly in rural communities.
The study analyzed mainly the impacts of the FEDOs in terms of the number of businesses created, expanded or improved and number of jobs created, maintained or improved, as well as investments leverage-generated through consulting services offered to businesses.
Under the line Number of businesses created, maintained or expanded, the FEDOs reported that they worked with 716 businesses between 2003 and 2008. The study examined the documentation provided by the FEDOs to identify 649 businesses or organizations that received significant service between 2003 and 2008; this clientele is distributed as follows:
As objective evidence, the survey provides convincing outcomes regarding the impact of FEDOs on entrepreneurs.
Francophone businesses in the West receiving services from FEDOs present the following characteristics:
In terms of impacts related to outcomes of the WD program, the survey reveals the following data:
The best practices that emerge are the following:
The Franco-Manitoban loan fund was established under an agreement between WD, the Business Development Bank (BDC) and the CDEM. After an analysis of the file, the CDEM guarantees 20% of the BDC loan through the Franco-Manitoban loan fund. WD advanced $400,000 to set up this fund. The fund generated 19 loans between April 1, 2003 and March 31, 2008. It generated a total of $2,719,800 in loans during this period, and contributed to the creation of 167 new jobs.
The CDEM investment fund is $500,000. It granted nine loans between 2003 and 2008. These loans provided $2,635,217 in financial leverage and contributed to the creation of 33 jobs.
All the FEDOs produce detailed documentation on their work in the Community Planning and Community Development programs. The quantitative dimension is relatively easy to capture. The FEDOs document the partners' names, the number of activities implemented, and the number of projects successfully completed or under way.
The quality and richness of the documentation on community planning activities vary from one FEDO to another. In all cases, the information is complete and helps easily determine the work done by the FEDOs in terms of community development.
The results obtained by the implementation of these two programs are necessarily qualitative in nature. The indicators used since 2006 provide a good picture of the FEDOs' outputs: number of partnerships established, increasing the capacity of community organizations, etc.
While useful, these indicators do not provide an overview of the quantitative outcomes confirmed by the focus groups themselves. The most important of those outcomes are the value of capital investments generated in projects that received major FEDO support and jobs created as a result of those investments.
Recommendation: that FEDOs and WD develop instruments to capture the value of incremental investments, and temporary jobs and permanent jobs generated by community capital projects that received substantial FEDO support.
The FEDOs report that they helped create, maintain or improve 716 businesses between 2003 and 2008. The impact study concludes that this figure is valid.
The FEDOs report that they helped create, maintain or improve 1,610 jobs between 2003 and 2008. The objective evidence of the impact study can confirm 93% of these jobs. Manitoba produced 58% of them, British Columbia 25%, Alberta 9% and Saskatchewan 8%.
The data reported by FEDOs concerning the number of clients served, the number of interactions with entrepreneur-clients, the number of requests for information, and the value of incremental investment thanks to assistance to businesses do not reflect the real picture. The impact study concludes that the totals reported by WD showing the cumulative effects of the four FEDOs in these categories are not reliable. This is not because of human error, but because of gaps in the system.
The study notes three types of difficulties with respect to FEDOs:
The study notes the following difficulties with respect to WD:
Further to these analyses, the impact study makes the following recommendation.
Recommendation: That WD and the FEDOs develop and implement a completely new approach for assembling relevant data and reporting on outputs and outcomes achieved in the Improvement of Business Productivity and Entrepreneurship program.
This recommendation has five major effects: