“It was a dream come true and a life saver for a small business like us,” said Slater. “We are very appreciative.”
Lifelong friends Zach Berman and Ryan Slater discovered the key to a business that they love while travelling.
They returned full of plans but with no capital.
After developing a business plan, they applied to HFLA for money to launch their idea for a business making cold-pressed juice. “At our loan interview, three directors who asked us questions about our business plan. One of them is in the food business,” mentioned Slater. “From a business perspective, it was really helpful to get some great free advice.”
The loan from HFLA purchased equipment to start their business, qualifying them for a government backed loan program designed to help start small businesses.
In addition to their mobile juice truck, the partners have an expanded production facility with a shop and growing distribution.
The concept of Hebrew Free Loans has been a part of Jewish Vancouver for over 100 years. The original Vancouver Hebrew Free Loan Association (VHFLA) was established in January 1915 and lasted until the 1937.
A similar organization, the Achdut Society, was started in 1927 and lasted until the early1960's. In 1979, the Hebrew Assistance Association (HAA) was established using the principles of the VHFLA: to provide interest-free loans in the Jewish community. In 2004, in conjunction with the Association's 25th anniversary, HAA was renamed the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Vancouver (HFLA).
Since 1979, we have granted over 1900 loans totaling more than $5 million. Our loans are character loans, granted though a process that involves members of the Jewish community to vouch for each other and help each other. As a result, HFLA has a default rate much lower than commercial lenders.
Our organization operates efficiently — we sublet a desk in an office at the JCC and we rely largely on our working board plus a part-time administrator. HFLA of Vancouver has never been a beneficiary of Federation or the United Way and as such, we have relieved these organizations of some financial burden by providing loans, many of which would otherwise have been welfare grants. Most importantly, we have allowed so many in our community to retain their dignity with a "hand up", not a "hand-out", in difficult circumstances.
Jews in Vancouver have been helping each other with loans for over a century, in order to achieve the highest level of tzedakah, according to Maimonides. “The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner or by extending a suitable loan, or by helping them find employment or establish themselves in business so as to make them self-reliant.”
HFLA's mission is exactly what Maimonides refered to. We do not make financial gifts or grants, our loans are made to those in our community who are in need of a loan and have the ability to repay. We help people avoid poverty with a potentially life changing loan.
The Hebrew Free Loan Association (HFLA) helps people help themselves by granting interest-free loans to members of BC's Jewish Community.
We offer people a helping hand, or hand up, not a hand out. In the process, loan recipients maintain dignity and self-sufficiency as they repay their interest-free loans. Our organization is founded on the mitzvah of Gemilut Chesed — Deeds of Loving Kindness.
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304B - 950 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Z 2N7