Alisha Anderson launched her cosmetics company with the help of the Saint John Community Loan Fund. (Facebook)

The Saint John Community Loan Fund is celebrating 12 years of helping low-income entrepreneurs in Saint John.

The group hosted a public annual general meeting on Thursday to celebrate how its programs have spurred on change in Saint John and what it has in store for future development.

Alisha Anderson says picking the right makeup comes naturally, however turning that into a business was the hard part.

With the help of the program, Anderson launched Dioné Cosmetics in March.

"The loan fund, Enterprising Women and Excel, have been really great at grounding everybody and letting them know that your dreams can come true you just have to really work for it," she said.

Since 1999, the loan fund has helped 70 Saint John businesses get money they might not have received from a bank. That funding has meant employment for more than 100 people in the city.

Seth Asimakos, the group’s general manager, says the project is all about developing ideas and helping people pursue their ambitions.

"The key thing that we do is enable people to really research and develop their idea, it could be a business idea, it could be the idea of getting back to work or going back to school. Any of those things change lives," Asimakos said.

The loan fund started its own development plan this year, purchasing lots next to its office on Prince Edward Street.

The hope is to build a multi-use space for non-profits, social enterprise and rent to own housing, he said.