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The Globe and Mail

In Pictures: Entrepreneur's tricked out school bus, a gym for kids

Debbie Brown can't keep pouring cash into her mobile money pit

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Four years ago, Edmonton resident Debbie Brown launched Adventure Bus Inc. She purchased and retrofitted a 72-seat yellow school bus with gym equipment – from monkey bars to a rock climbing wall to a mini trampoline – and designed programs that encourage young people to embrace fitness. Today, her mobile gym caters to children up to the age of 12.

John Ulan/The Globe and Mail

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Adventure Bus has since become a fixture at birthday parties, grade schools, daycares and community events around Edmonton. Business is good – it has increased 45 per cent in the past year alone – and her operation should be primed for expansion.

John Ulan/The Globe and Mail

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But Ms. Brown’s bus is nearing the end of its lifespan and has become very expensive to maintain. She continues to sink tens of thousands of dollars into her mobile money pit each year to keep it on the road and ensure it meets safety standards. All her profits have been eaten up by the repair and maintenance of her vehicle, she says.

John Ulan/The Globe and Mail

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The problem is that Ms. Brown has had difficulty finding financing to either replace her bus or buy another. “I’ve drained my own personal finances because of this, so I can’t just go out and get a line of credit,” she says. And an official loan is off the table as well. Ms. Brown says a former partner in a prior business drained the company funds seven years ago and, with litigation pending, no bank will extend her any capital. She is hesitant to go into business with a partner, who could inject cash into the operation, because the idea petrifies her.

John Ulan/The Globe and Mail

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In the meantime, she worries her business will suffer if she is unable to keep up with demand. “I have all my eggs in one basket now and that’s a terrifying thought.”

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