Financing can be difficult to get in the early stages of starting a business, especially for small businesses with out-of-the-box ideas like those needed for the circular economy. For this reason, Synergy Foundation, Community Micro Lending (CML), and a group of essential lenders have joined forces to create the Project Zero Circular Economy Loan Fund to support entrepreneurs graduating from the Project Zero Incubator Program.


First run as a pilot in 2020, the Project Zero Circular Economy Loan Fund connects local donors and lenders with entrepreneurs in Project Zero’s Circular Economy Incubator. Entrepreneurs apply while they’re still in the program and can request loans to help them cover a variety of start-up costs including building their proof of concept, prototyping, piloting an idea, skill development, equipment, lease deposits, and more. For many it is the first step to building readiness for future loans and investment. The loan comes with a 3% interest rate.


Project Zero is an initiative of the Synergy Foundation. Through the Project Zero Incubator, new business ideas and early start-ups that look to operate within the circular economy will have the opportunity to create their business plans, learn business operation fundamentals and entrepreneurial skills, connect with mentors, and develop a pitch for their business idea.

Here is a sample of business categories that could be a good fit for our program:

  • Upcycling waste materials into new products

  • Products designed with a closed loop and/or waste-free cycle

  • Renewable energy

  • Clean technology that reduces energy or waste

  • Repair economy

  • Sharing economy

  • Product as a service models (leasing to reduce waste and extend life of products)

“Co-creating this fund with Project Zero and the initial lenders was an inspiring process. Together we designed a fund that helps innovative ventures launch months if not years earlier than they could without it. It gives social entrepreneurs the resources to test their idea and build a proof of concept while actively connected to their community of support.”

Elysia Glover, Board Co-Chair, Community Micro Lending


We are now seeking donors and lenders to grow the 2021 Project Zero Circular Economy Loan Fund. There are two ways to contribute:


Lenders sign a lender agreement before making a contribution and are eligible for repayment. Minimum loan: $250.


Donors to the Circular Economy Loan Fund will not be repaid. Instead, repaid funds are re-lent to future Circular Economy Loan Fund borrowers.



Founded by Meaghan McDonald, Salt Legacy upcycles used sails into beautiful custom and durable outdoor gear. Each product, whether it is a fanny pack or an adventure backpack or a surfboard bag, comes with the story of the sail. The funding Salt Legacy received went towards the hiring of a lead product designer and locally sourced materials for the products.



Founded by two long-time outdoor enthusiasts and outdoor retail industry professionals, Basecamp Repairs is an outdoor equipment repair company that provides repairs, alterations, modifications, custom solutions, and problem solving for technical clothing and camping equipment. The funding Basecamp Repairs received went towards legal fees, incorporation costs, and growing their technical repair knowledge.

Want to learn more?

Email us at info@communitymicrolending.ca