Kelowna business says its days away from losing everything
CORRECTION – Editor Update: Mazu says it does not require a loan from SIDIT nor additional funds. It says it secured a loan from another institution and SIDIT is blocking the additional investment. Mazu also claims it did not write a letter to SIDIT but presented the media with a letter written by other companies in similar situations.
Kelowna business owner Janice Taylor is biting the hand that feeds her, but says the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, or SIDIT, is “out of allignment.”
Taylor runs a company called Mazu, a website dedicated to help protect children from online bullying. Part of her funding, in the form of a loan, comes from SIDIT, a provincially funded trust that distributes taxpayers dollars to help small businesses get off the ground.
Taylor says SIDIT is refusing to provide her with any more money that she desperately needs to help pay her employees.
Taylor sent a letter to the SIDIT board, accusing it of poor communications and not living up to its mandate.
“And I received a completely threatening letter back,” said Taylor.
In response, SIDIT said:
“If you feel that your best course of action is to make your confidential loan file public, including the fact that you are in default under the loan, SIDIT is not in a position to stop you.”
The letter goes on to say it will sue Taylor if she’s not careful with her words, saying “. . . will take whatever measures it deems to be appropriate to preserve that reputation, up to and including taking action against you for defamation.”
Taylor denies she’s in default of her loan from SIDIT, but admits money is tight to the point where she can’t pay her employees.
“And they haven’t been paid,” said Taylor. “And they’ve come every day.”
Leah Marshall is one of those employees.
“As a mom, as a wife, to be able to go home to my husband and say: ‘Oh my gosh, I love what I’m doing, but were not able to get paid.’ That is a challenge for sure.”
Global News attempted to get SIDIT’s side of the story. It declined to comment regarding Taylor’s complaint, citing privacy reasons.
Meantime, the clock is ticking for Taylor, who says if SIDIT doesn’t change its tune and come through with more funds, she’ll be forced to close in a matter days.