small business owner filling out business loan application

Ontario Small Business Loans Guide

If you’re in need of a small business loan in Ontario for your province-based company, then this loans guide can help you. Whether you’re looking for small business loans Toronto programs, Ottawa-based programs, or other Ontario regional lending services, this guide can help you find funding that will work for your business.  

How to Get a Business Loan in Ontario

Funding opportunities like small business loans in Ontario or Ontario business grants, tax credits or investments are a great way to find the extra funding you need to start or grow your business. To successfully apply to small business loans Ontario programs, you or your business must meet specific requirements and eligibility criteria. Each organization and loan program will also have its own set of criteria that must be met to secure funding. 

Generally, all Ontario business loans programs will require the entrepreneur or business owner to operate within the province or specific regions of the province. For example, some small business loans Ottawa programs are specifically for Ottawa-based companies. At the same time, Canada small business financing programs typically only offer loans to Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Overall, it is vital to check and double-check the eligibility criteria for these loan programs before applying to ensure you aren’t wasting your time on a program that doesn’t fit your business needs. Learn more about how to qualify for a small business loan, or check out this provincial loans guide before applying to any of the repayable financing programs listed below. 

Startup and Business Growth Loans by Region

Community Economic Development and Diversification Loan

What loan is it?

The Community Economic Development and Diversification loan is a government-funded program that financially supports businesses in rural southern Ontario to develop, diversify, and transform their local economies. These financial assistance loans can be used to enhance business attraction, investments, employment retention and opportunities, and strengthen regional competitiveness.

The loan amount and repayment terms

Incorporated businesses, including Indigenous businesses, can secure a no-interest, repayable contribution loan amount between $250,000 and $5 million per project. The amount can be used to cover up to 50% of eligible and supported project costs. These eligible costs include labour, expertise, non-capital, and capital related to the business. 

FedDev Ontario will provide this funding in the form of a reimbursement, calculated on the percentage of funding approved for eligible costs incurred. Advance payments are not allowed. Businesses will need to submit claims forms to FedDev Ontario no more than once a month and no less than quarterly. 

The loan is unconditionally repayable and contribution repayments should happen as soon as reasonably possible. The date of commencement and length of repayment terms are decided on a case-by-case basis. However, repayments must begin no later than one year following the project’s completion. 


Eligible applicants must be located in rural southern Ontario and are legally incorporated. This includes Indigenous-owned businesses. These applicants must demonstrate to the government:

  • Evidence of project funding
  • The technical, operational, managerial, and financial capacity to achieve the project’s objectives in a timely manner 
  • Evidence of market growth opportunities and how the project will address this gap, and support economic development or diversification of the region 
  • A feasible project plan with achievable outcomes and detailed cost estimates 

How to apply

Loan applications are accepted continuously. Start the process by submitting your application for funding to the government. Before applying, businesses are encouraged to contact FedDev Ontario by phone at 1-866-593-5505 to ensure all requirements are met.

Community Capital Fund Business Loan & Business Coaching

What loan is it?

The Access Community Capital Fund Business Loan provides financial support to startups and existing businesses in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton.  The company also provides all applicants with free business coaching services alongside the loan amount. 

The loan amount and repayment terms

This Small business loan Ontario program provides loans of up to $5,000 per applicant. Repayment terms will be discussed with Access’s Loan Officers after your application has been approved. 


Eligible applicants for this small business loans Toronto program include those that are:

  • 18 years or older and are Canadian citizens, Permanent Residents, or Convention Refugees with the legal right to work in Canada
  • A resident of the Greater Toronto Area or Hamilton 
  • Those that demonstrate financial need and are unable to obtain a loan from banks or other conventional sources like a financial institution
  • Not in consumer proposal or bankruptcy
  • Those that are up-to-date and do not owe taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency
  • Able to demonstrate the loan will be used for the business as outlined in the application and business plan

Those that fit the eligibility criteria for the small business loans Toronto and Hamilton region will need to send specific documents to Access, including:

  • Proof of income 
  • Credit score and report (must be from Equifax or TransUnion)
  • Notice of Assessment from the CRA
  • Business plan and financial projections 
  • Business registration
  • Two pieces of government-issued ID 
  • Proof of residence (ie utility bill showing mailing address)
  • Resume 

How to apply

Submit a completed loan application form and all supporting documents to Access by email: Once submitted, Access staff and the Loan Review Committee will review your application and get back to you within 3 to 5 business days. In addition, expect to participate in a one to two-hour-long interview with Access’s Loan Officers before funding approval is granted. 

Ottawa Community Loan Fund

What loan is it?

The Ottawa Community Loan Fund (OCLF) is an Ontario business loan program meant to support Ottawa-based businesses. OCLF is an incorporated non-profit organization that provides financial empowerment to Ottawa business owners and entrepreneurs. The loan contribution can fund a new business starting out or help expand an existing business. 

The loan amount and repayment terms

The maximum amount for the small business loans Ottawa contribution is $15,000 per application. The interest rates on OCLF loans are generally current bank prime rates, plus 2% to 6% max. Repayment terms can range from 12 to 60 months, depending on the situation. 

Applicants of this small business loans Ottawa program should be aware there is also a one-time due diligence fee of 3% of the value of the loan, up to a maximum of $250. 


Applicants must meet the following criteria to apply for the small business loan Ottawa Community Fund successfully:

  • Are 18 years or older and reside in the City of Ottawa 
  • Have permanent legal status in Canada 
  • Own at least 51% of the business if it is incorporated or a partnership- in the case of a corporation, you must provide signatures of all shareholders, or if a partnership, all partners must co-sign for the loan 
  • Demonstrate the commitment and financial ability to repay the loan amount, illustrated through personal credit history checks and references
  • Must not have any outstanding debt on which there are payment defaults
  • Agree that OCLF will be the first secured party for pledged loan securities 
  • Submit a viable business plan with monthly cash flow projections for the following two years

How to apply

Contact OCLF directly to start this Ontario business loans application.

Two Rivers General Loans

What loan is it?

The Two Rivers General Loans financing options offer large-scale loans to businesses to help them purchase equipment, finance inventory, provide working capital, assist with expansion costs, or acquire an existing business.

The business and equipment loan comes from the Two Rivers Community Development Centre (TRCDC), which aims to support local businesses, stimulate the economy, and create or maintain jobs. 

The loan amount and repayment terms

TRCDC offers loans of up to $500,000 directly to the business, with an additional $650,000 available from Aboriginal Impact Capital, which is controlled by Two Rivers. The loan comes with competitive interest rates and flexible repayment terms that will be decided during the application process. 

Applicants must have a minimum available 10% of equity to apply. 


Reside in one of their eligible service areas: Oxford, Norfolk, Perth, Waterloo, Wellington Peel, Dufferin, Grey, Brant, Haldimand, Hamilton, Niagra, Halton, Simcoe, York, and the GTA. First Nations service areas include Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and Six Nations of the Grand River.

How to apply

Business owners and entrepreneurs can start the loan process by connecting with TRCDC’s Business Support Team to discuss financing options and check eligibility. Once deemed eligible, submit an application to the support team. 

Should the team approve the application they will ask for a business plan. If the business plan is deemed viable, TRCDC will provide a Letter of Offer. Loan terms will be decided and legal documents signed before the loan is handed over. 

NOHFC Investment - Locate Stream

What loan is it?

The Investment Locate Stream, put on by the NOHFC, an Agency of the Government of Ontario, is a loan program aimed at helping businesses expand new operations into Northern Ontario. Application approval is based on how beneficial the business or business project is to the economic development of Northern Ontario. 

Eligible business projects under this funding stream include capital construction, land servicing costs, leasehold improvements, new or used equipment including capital leases, information and communications technology investments, marketing for new products or businesses, or training costs incurred from third parties. 

The loan amount and repayment terms

The NOHFC’s funding stream takes the form of a conditional contribution or a combination of a conditional contribution and term loan. Businesses may receive up to a maximum contribution of $5 million based on the project or business’s net economic benefit to Northern Ontario. Combined Provincial and Federal government funding cannot exceed 50% of project costs. 

How to apply

Applicants must have a pre-application consultation with NOHFC staff before they can apply for funding. Contact NOHFC at 1-800-461-8329 to schedule an appointment.

Verge Capital Social Enterprises Loans

What loan is it?

The VERGE Capital Social Enterprises Loan provides financial support to social enterprises, whether startups or small businesses, in Southwestern Ontario. As long as your business or startup is considered a social enterprise under VERGE, also referred to as social purpose organizations, which can take the form of any business structure, including for-profits, non profit organizations, and cooperatives, your business could secure funding. 

VERGE’s area of investment focus includes businesses that stress equity and justice, climate action, systematic change, or local impact.

The loan amount and repayment terms

VERGE loans range between $10,000 and $100,000 for businesses and come with an interest rate of prime +2%, with a flexible repayment period of up to five years. The loan does not have any application fees, and there are no penalties for early repayment. In addition, excessive collateral or a personal guarantee is not required. 

VERGE also offers a loan of up to $500,000 for large-scale community infrastructure projects. These include things like green energy projects, nature conservation, affordable housing projects, innovation and entrepreneurship hubs, or arts and culture spaces. Interest rates, term loans, and loan securities for this larger funding stream are determined on a case-by-case basis. 


Business loan eligibility criteria are based on the answers to two specific questions that VERGE will ask applicants:

Are you a social enterprise, and does your work align with our investment priorities?

What are your social enterprises’ contributions and commitment to local communities and economies in Southwestern Ontario?

Small business owners and businesses must also focus their energy on the Southwestern Ontario areas, between Windsor and Hamilton-Niagara. This does not include the Halton region or the rest of the GTA.  

How to apply

Applicants must first reach out to the organization to apply for VERGE funding. Then, eligible parties will move forward with the loan application, which is assessed by a review panel of 4 to 6 VERGE members. There are no deadlines for this loan program so businesses can apply throughout the year.

Southwestern Ontario Development Fund

What loan is it?

The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund is an Ontario government loan program meant to support businesses and community economic development projects in southwestern Ontario. Funding can be used to support projects that create jobs, attract and encourage private sector investment, promote business growth and provide positive economic impact, or encourage innovation, collaboration, and cluster development.

The loan amount and repayment terms

The Development Fund offers loans of up to 15% funding to a maximum contribution of $5 million for business projects. The loan is interest-free during the project’s duration for up to four years. If investment and job targets are met, then up to 30% of the loan, to a maximum of $500,000, may be forgiven.  


Eligible applicants for this small business loans Ontario program must:

  • Have at least three years of operations under their belt, with financial statements 
  • Employ at least 10 people (or five if located in rural Ontario) 
  • Commit to creating a minimum of five new jobs, or at least a 30% increase in employment for companies with fewer than fifteen employees
  • Invest at least $500,000 in their project (or $200,000 if in rural Ontario)
  • Have business operations, or plan to have operations, located within a community in southwestern Ontario

How to apply

To apply for this small business financing program, you will need to contact a regional advisor for help with your application. Next, register an account on Transfer Payment Ontario, before submitting an eligibility checklist with his government program. Once accepted, your business will need to complete the application forms and provide supporting documentation.

There are four application intake periods in a given year. Although eligibility checklists can be submitted at any time, it is advised to apply for funding within the four intake periods. Applicants will be notified of the decision within 60 business days of the deadline. 

Eastern Ontario Development Fund

What loan is it?

The Eastern Ontario Development Fund is another Ontario government-funded loans program specifically for businesses operating within the Eastern Ontario region. Repayable funding contributions can be used to attract and promote private sector investment, create job opportunities, encourage business growth, innovation, collaboration, and cluster development in the region. 

The loan amount and repayment terms

The Eastern Ontario Development Fund offers loans of up to 15% funding to cover a maximum of $5 million for business projects. The loan is interest-free during the project’s duration for up to four years. If the investment and job targets are met, then up to 30% of the loan may be forgiven to a maximum of $500,000.  

Eligibility  and how to apply

Businesses that operate or plan to operate in Eastern Ontario, including the following geographic areas, can apply for funding: Frontenac, Haliburton, Hastings, Kawartha Lakes, Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, Lennox and Addington, Muskoka, Northumberland, Ottawa, Peterborough, Prescott and Russell, Prince Edward, Renfrew, and Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry. 

Business loan eligibility criteria are the same as the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund mentioned directly above. Again, there are four application opening periods that applicants can submit. Start the process by contacting a regional advisor by emailing or calling the toll-free number, 1-800-267-6592.

Minority Businesses and Entrepreneur Programs

NADF Business Loan

What loan is it?

The NADF Loan, managed by the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund, provides individuals and existing businesses with funding to start or grow a business or purchase an existing business. 

The loan amount and repayment terms

The maximum loan amount any individual or business may receive is $500,000. However, applicants may receive up to $1 million for exceptional circumstances in some cases. Interest rates on these loans will vary from 8.5% to 12%, depending on the business application.


Both individuals and small business owners can apply for funding through this loan program. Individual applicants must be: 

  • Over the age of 18 
  • Of Aboriginal heritage (First Nations, Metis, or Inuit) 
  • Residents of Northern Ontario
  • Establishing a business in Northern Ontario

On the other hand, existing businesses applying for this loan must be:

  • Wholly-owned or majority-owned by an Aboriginal (minimum 51%)
  • Based in Northern Ontario

Successful business applicants between the ages of 18 and 35 must meet a minimum 10% cash equity requirement, while applicants over 35 must possess 15% cash equity. 

How to apply

Contact NADF directly to start this Ontario business loans application process. 

The Rise Small Business Lending Program

What loan is it?

Rise Asset Development is a registered Canadian charity aimed at supporting businesses and entrepreneurs who identify as having mental health and/or addiction challenges that cannot obtain financing from traditional banks or financial institutions. Their Rise Small Business Lending Program provides access to low-interest business loans to help individuals start or grow their small businesses. 

The loan program also offers mentorships, connecting businesses with a Rise mentor to help them succeed in their endeavours. 

The loan amount and repayment terms

Loan amounts are based on the stage of business development, viability of the business concept, and capacity to repay the loan. Average loan sizes offered by Rise generally sit around $4,000. However, businesses may receive up to $10,000 depending on the situation. The average loan term lasts three years, with low-interest rates and zero hidden fees. 


Business loan eligibility entrepreneurs must:

  • Self-identify as an individual who has experienced mental health and/or addiction challenges
  • Illustrate they are unable to access traditional bank financing for their business operations
  • Not be in active bankruptcy or behind on child support payments or government taxes
  • Be a resident of Canada and be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident

How to apply

To begin the loan approval process, you will need to start the Rise Financing Application and submit the completed application, business plan, cash flow projection for one year, a resume, credit history report, and other supporting documentation to Rise Asset Development.

Get your Ontario small business loans application off to the right start by using accounting software to help your money management. Generate the financial reports you need to apply successfully as a small business owner. With QuickBooks Online you can keep an expert eye on your business finances and secure the Ontario business loans you need to succeed.

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