2014: the Ivany Report told us "Now or Never" - Nova Scotia is in crisis
2015: the playbook “We Choose Now” told us how to "step up" for our province
2016: AIRO takes on the challenge for Annapolis Royal and Annapolis County
2017: AIRO releases Local Logic: How to get there from here – survey results and recommendations on the economic future of Annapolis Royal, NS, and surrounding communities

What is AIRO all about?

Business financing has become remote, data driven and abstract. Local communities are the victims.
AIRO has created a financing opportunity through loans and business advisory services.

AIRO is helping Annapolis Royal
— and all of Annapolis County —
to become THE place to live, work, play, and thrive in Nova Scotia!

Our Approach

We know there are people in our community with terrific business ideas who are ready to take action to help our region succeed economically. If you're one of them, AIRO can support you in making your idea a reality. We can give you advice, connect you to other helpful resources, and potentially micro-fund your idea with a loan. Our funding cap is $10,000, but we’re flexible if the right criteria are met.

If you have an idea for a new business or want to expand your existing business, we want to know more about it. Don't be shy! Just complete the information form that applies to you. We’ll review your idea and contact you with next steps.

If you have a great idea but don’t want to build a business of your own, we’d still like to hear about it. We might be able to find someone else to bring your idea to life. Just and we'll set up a time to chat!

Our approach to replicating the AIRO model involves working with a variety of stakeholders to help them identify how it could be adapted for their specific circumstances. This includes approaching all three levels of government to consider how public/private partnerships could allow this model to work anywhere in rural Canada.

Our Statistics

Since our founding in 2016, we have received over 140 requests for support (and more are received weekly!). Not all of those have been for funding – some simply needed help sorting out their project concept and getting pointed in the right direction. Of those who have requested financial support, 77 have been funded…and counting as there are usually several applications in the pipeline at any given time. This funding has directly supported more than 168 full-time, part-time, and seasonal jobs (not to mention all of the spin-off employment involved)!

Our Mission

We believe in the potential of our region— we're dedicated to stimulating entrepreneurial activity in Annapolis Royal and Annapolis County through microlending. We also believe that the AIRO model can be replicated successfully anywhere in rural Canada.

Our Vision

We want what you want — to make Annapolis Royal and Annapolis County the place to work, live, play and thrive in Nova Scotia. We also want to help others to establish their own version of AIRO in their own communities.

Our Report

Get more information about our report, Local Logic: How to get there from here.


Applications forms and general summary information:

Share your new business idea with AIRO.

Share your business expansion idea with AIRO.

AIRO - an information summary and biographies (media kit).

AIRO $2,000 Scholarship Application Form for AWEC graduates.
  2021 Scholarship Recipient:
      to be announced in June 2021
  2020 Scholarship Recipients:
      Jordan Barteaux and Elsa Hafting
  2019 Scholarship Recipient:
      Lauren Longmire
  2018 Scholarship Recipients:
      Lauren Kaiser and Noah Robinson

If you have any difficulties with the downloads .

AIRO video project:

How can rural economic development be done differently in rural Canada?
We're sharing exactly how the AIRO model innovates the rural economy!
Several of our clients share their stories about stepping up to the challenge of being an entrepreneur in rural Nova Scotia's Annapolis County. This will challenge you to view ROI differently - through the lens of philanthropreneurship - and challenge you to think about how you could apply this model to your own community. But don't worry, we're a sharing organization and we don't mind helping you to implement your own version of AIRO!

AIRO Publicly* Supported Projects Include:

1 Scoop 2 Scoop | Action Jax | Age Advantage Association | American Muscial Theatre Academy | Amy Rubin Integrative Counselling | Annapolis Basin Charter Tours | Annapolis Board of Trade | Annapolis Marsh Tours (CARP) | Annapolis Royal 5K | Annapolis Royal Community Arts Council | Annapolis Royal on the Move! | Annapolis Royal Wharf Association | Ashdale Acres | Atelier 1605 | AWEC - Annual King's Theatre Day | Awesome Annapolis | Bear Town Pizzeria | Bridgetown Jubilee Park Floating Dock | Ed's Property Maintenance | End of the Line Pub | ExperienceAnnapolis.ca | Fort Anne Cafe | Fort View Golf Course | Founders House Dining & Drinks | Good Cheer Adventures | H.O.W. (Heal Our World) - A Junior Achievement Company | Inner Spark Self-Discovery Surprise Boxes | Kashy Kreations & Embroidery | Lauren Soloy - Writer & Illustrator | Lucky Rabbit & Co. | Luke's L'il Spuds | Lunn's Mill Brewery | Mad Hatter Wine Bar | MareGold Retreat Centre | Maritime Blasting | Milk Street Cheese Co. | Mills Mountin Gluten Free Foods | Miracca Spa | MSA Property Services | MVR Solutions | NIKIAN Farm Enterprises | Northwinds Chalets By The Bay | Past To Present Photos | Prettymaker Studio | Rebekah Deveau Photography | Round Hill Studio | Royal Acres Estate | Soluna Energy Inc. | Stella Maris Health Services | Tall Sips on Stilts Teahouse & Tavern | Tartan Wave | TealSeal Gaming - A Junior Achievement Company | Temple on Queen | The Old Ten Spot | Thistle Hospitality Group | Town of Annapolis Royal - Facade Improvement Program | Tripp's Gallery | Upper Clements Parks | Valley Unison Counselling | Weasy's Hair Salon | WhereInTheValley.com |
*Not all projects are ready for us to publicly acknowledge them – more will be added as they launch!

AIRO in the Media:

January 16, 2020: New Micro-Loan Pilot Program to Benefit Cape Breton – Unama’ki Female Entrepreneurs: Press Release - CapeBretonPartnership.com/
January 2020: How to revitalize a rural economy: MunicipalWorld.com
December 19, 2019: Having faith: Nicholson investing in people and community to grow rural economy: SaltWire.com
December 10, 2019: ‘Philanthropreneur’ fuelling big change in Annapolis Royal: The Chronicle Herald
February 28 2019: DIY Economic Development: One Woman's ROI on Micro-loans: Rural Spark Podcast with guest Jane Nicholson
January 9, 2019: Valley leaders share 2019 goals: The Chronicle Herald
July 12, 2018: Amplify East: profile on Adele MacDonald
April 26, 2018: Amplify East: profile on Jane Nicholson
January 2018 to December 2018: Adele MacDonald Book Reviews: Thought Readers Book Business Book Club
September 8, 2017: Lucky Rabbit's Reinvention: NSCAD Notes News
July 4, 2017: The Airo Way: Finding investment doesn’t have to be hard: The Chronicle Herald
April 5, 2017: Engage Nova Scotia Voices 5 Podcast: Part three of a three-part series interview with Adele MacDonald
April 4, 2017: Documentary omission leaves rare opportunity on national stage for Annapolis Royal: The Chronicle Herald
March 28, 2017: Press Release for Local Logic: How to get there from here
March 28, 2017: Engage Nova Scotia Voices 4 Podcast: Part two of a three-part series interview with Adele MacDonald
March 22, 2017: Engage Nova Scotia Voices 3 Podcast: Part one of a three-part series interview with Adele MacDonald
December 27, 2016: Gunn's Annapolis Royal Celebration Tartan comes ashore for 2017: The Annapolis County Spectator
September 16, 2016: Jane Nicholson Interview by Community Sector Council of Nova Scotia

Ongoing AIRO Newsletter: 12-Month Archive