Guide to Small Business Grants in Ontario

If you are a small business owner and conduct business in Ontario, you should know that the government of Ontario offers many grants to entrepreneurs. This is a complete guide to Ontario small business grants. The grants are organized by categories, and further broken down into sections explaining what the grants are for, how much you can receive, who is eligible and how to apply.

Business grants Ontario categories include:

Funding for Eligible Businesses in Ontario

There are different types of funding options available for businesses in Ontario as long as they meet the eligibility requirements. A majority of funding will come from local government offices or the Ontario government, and certain portions may also come from the federal government.

Small businesses in Ontario may be eligible for a few different funding options such as:

  • Government Grants
  • Government Loans
  • Tax Breaks
  • Tax Credits

The Ontario government grants for businesses are split into a few different types of grants. These include:

  • One time and renewable grants: The one time government grant is provided once to help a small business cover business expenses. Depending on the type of expenses, these grants may also be renewable, each quarter, or each year.
  • Most of the renewable grants will be focused on going green, providing training for your employees, or hiring staff.
  • Partial contribution grants: This grant requires business owners to contribute a portion of their own money towards their business – sort of to match the fund that the government grant puts down. Business owners may be required to put up 10% to 75% towards the business of their own money, in order to get a matching or partial grant.
  • Non-repayable government grants: With this grant you will get funding from the government and won’t have to repay anything or put any money down. These are the hardest grants to get because they are very competitive.

Applying for Government Grants Ontario

Before you apply for a government grant make sure you speak with a funding expert so you can ensure you have prepared all your documents properly. Here are the key elements your Canadian business will need to prepare yourself with in order to get the money.

1. A business plan

Your business plan will explain your business model, your growth strategy, marketing plan and will allow the government to better understand your funding needs. Include all aspects of your business activity and industry related activity.

2. Financial projections

Financial projections usually contain a 3 year finance plan, including a balance sheet, cash flow statement and a profit/loss document that will show a funding agency your funding preparedness plan.

3. Pitch deck

A pitch deck is your presentation to the funding agency. It does not replace your business plan, however, it is a summary of it. Remember that the way your pitch is presented can make or break how well the funding agency perceives your idea.

Always include the eligibility criteria and how you meet that criteria, including business activities, funding incentives, whether the business has experienced revenue decline as a result of the pandemic, or if funding will help with job creation.

4. The right program

Make sure you are applying to the right program – meaning that you read the specific requirements and qualify for them.

Economic Growth Grants

Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC)

What is it?

The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) was established in 1988 with a mandate “to promote and stimulate economic development initiatives in Northern Ontario by providing funding assistance to projects that stabilize, diversify and foster the economic growth and diversification of the region.”

NOHFC offers several grants and programs, one of which is the Small Business Start-up Projects.

How much is awarded?

NOHFC assistance offers a conditional contribution and won’t exceed 50% of eligible project costs up to a maximum of $200,000. Also, not all projects that meet the program criteria outlined on the site will receive funding.

Who can apply?

Eligible project costs related to the start-up of a business that creates jobs in Northern Ontario include:

  • Leasehold improvements
  • New or used equipment
  • Training costs incurred with third parties
  • Information and communications technology investments including, but not limited to, software
  • Marketing costs

How to apply

Review the guidelines on the website and complete the online application .

FedDev – Regional Innovation Ecosystem

What is it?

Financing under the Regional Innovative Ecosystem stream creates, grows and develops strong and inclusive regional networks that support business growth and innovation. It builds the entrepreneurial environment necessary for more innovative regional economies and increases the competitiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Ontario small business support funding is available for enhancing the development of business incubators, accelerators, and other entities, which support entrepreneurs, start-ups and innovative companies with high-growth potential.

The aim of this fund is to support projects led by innovation-oriented organizations to increase and promote business productivity and global competitiveness, and investment and talent attraction.

An example of a project includes delivering seed funding, mentoring, networking opportunities and other services to enable the commercialization of new technologies by southern Ontario firms.

How much is awarded?

Application can be submitted for non-repayable contributions from $500,000 up to $10 million per project.

Who can apply?

Not-for-profit organizations who contribute to fuelling an entrepreneurial environment conducive to business innovation and growth.

Regional economic stakeholders who promote the entrepreneurial talent of underrepresented groups, including women, Indigenous peoples and young entrepreneurs.

Entities who offer ways to strengthen opportunities and networks for rural businesses to support innovation and growth.

How to apply?

To submit your application check the side panel of this page.

FedDev – Community Economic Development and Diversification

What is it?

The Community Economic Development and Diversification works to generate sustainable, inclusive growth and help small and rural communities in southern Ontario to fully participate in, and benefit from economic opportunities.

This fund enhances business expansion, attraction, investment, retention and employment opportunities in southern Ontario communities. It also aims to develop and expand collaborative efforts that strengthen regional competitiveness. As well as supports regional businesses, hubs and communities with the goal of economic diversification, integration and transformation.

How much is awarded?

Applications can be submitted for non-repayable contributions from $250,000 up to $5 million per project for not-for-profit organizations.

For incorporated businesses (including Indigenous businesses) there are no interest, repayable contributions options starting from $250,000 up to $5 million per project.

Who can apply?

Businesses or not-for-profit organizations in small communities who are working to develop, diversify and transform their local economies.

Rural partners to help address the unique economic conditions in small towns and rural communities.

How to apply?

To submit your application check the side panel on this site .

Technology Adoption Grants

Digital Main St. – Digital Transformation Grant

What is it?

Digital Main Street (DMS) has partnered with QuickBooks to work on helping small businesses with their adoption of technologies . The Digital Transformation Grant (DTG) program provides funding for training, advisory support, and grants to brick-and-mortar small businesses looking to increase their capacity through digital transformation.

The goal is to supply small business owners with an extensive plan to guide their digital transformation by teaching them digital literacy skills through a variety of different approaches.

How much is awarded?

This grant provides online training and a one-time $2,500 grant to implement their digital transformation plan.

Who can apply?

An applicant for this grant must be an Ontario resident operating a business in Ontario. They also must be at least 18 years old at the time of the application. The applicant can be a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen. For a full list of eligibility requirements check here .

How to apply?

See this comprehensive video on how to apply for this grant here .

Ontario Centres of Excellence Voucher for E-business and Technology Adoption (VEBTA)

What is it?

The fund was created to help SMEs scale up your development, product adoption, and implementation of online tools. It’s typically delivered through course-based collaborative projects with publicly-funded Ontario colleges

How much is awarded?

For a project that takes up to 12 months, you can apply for up to $25,000 to the publicly-funded college, for a bundle of 10 vouchers valued at $2,500 each.

Who can apply?

Industry partners who apply to be paired up with an Ontario college or university research partner must:

  • Be a for-profit organization
  • Have operations and/or R&D in Ontario with the capacity to commercialize the results of your project
  • Apply directly to a VEB provider college to access a project voucher

How to apply

Review the details and submit a general intake form online .

Arts Industry Grants

Toronto Enterprise Fund

What is it?

The Toronto Enterprise Fund sponsors a mixed capital opportunity fund for nonprofit organizations and charities.

How much is awarded?

Eligible non profits can receive grants between $10,000 and $30,000. Further funding may be awarded in repayable loans.

Who can apply?

Eligible parties include not for profits located in the Toronto-Hamilton area only.

How to apply?

To apply, you must attend an information session and submit an application with a detailed business plan a month later. The group holds two sessions annually. If your application is approved, half of your financing is a grant, and the other half is a loan.

Digital Main St. – Shop Here Program

What is it?

The Shop Here program is funded by the province of Ontario and corporate sponsors to help Ontario businesses and artists start selling online.

How much is awarded?

Technical assistance is provided to businesses to help them create their online store, and train business owners and employees on how to manage it. It also provides support to get the online store live and helps with marketing.

Benefits of this assistance include:

  • Free 1:1 support with building and launching an online store
  • Advertising credits for Facebook
  • Free .CA domain registration
  • 70% off QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Self-Employed for the first 6 months of subscription. Learn more
  • And more

Who can apply?

To meet eligibility criteria, employers and businesses must:

  • Have under 10 full time employees (25 if you own a restaurant)
  • Be a registered business in Ontario
  • Can be a business or artist
  • Can be home based or commercial based

How to apply?

In order to get started with the application check here .

Environmental Grants

TD Sustainable Future Program

What is it?

TD Sustainable Future Program is Ontario’s only incubation space (Incubator space typically includes office space that is set aside in a building for various entrepreneurial projects) dedicated to sustainable solutions for creating prosperity in the community and protecting the planet. Such assistance supports startups that adhere to UN sustainable development goals.

This business initiative provides funding for entrepreneurs who’s ventures support the following:

  • COVID-19 solutions
  • Digital health innovation
  • Industry innovation
  • Social innovation
  • Community safety
  • Education innovation
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Poverty reduction

How much is awarded?

Programs like this one offer specialized resources, educational events, industry specific peer to peer mentorship, and financing opportunities.

  • Canada’s #1 accelerator programming
  • 5-7 hours per month of one-to-one mentorship with our in-house mentorship team Premium office space in the TD Sustainable Future Lab or fully virtual program delivery
  • Access to our exclusive CleanTech specialist mentor team and special events focused on clean technology, sustainability and the environment
  • Connections to investors and consideration for exclusive, industry-specific grants where available

Who can apply?

The TD Sustainable Future Program supports entrepreneurs working on any venture that supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The list of criteria are as follows: ‍

  • Ontario based and can demonstrate your work supports one of the 17 sustainable development goals.
  • Ready for intensive programming and looking for a community of support. Ideal candidates are dedicated to pursuing the venture and actively participating in such programs

How to apply?

In order to apply you need to complete the application form . Be sure to include as many details as possible and add in any documentation you deem relevant to the application. The submissions are reviewed regularly and they will be in touch with you regarding details.

Agriculture Grants

Canadian Agricultural Partnership – Addressing Agri-food Sector Labour Force Challenges

What is it?

The purpose of this aid is to assist short-term projects that focus on helping to build a resilient and strong labour force for the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector. This will be accomplished by assisting to identify and address challenges and opportunities related to promoting, attracting, training and retaining labour.

The target audience for this fund are project partnerships of not-for-profit organizations involved in the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector that are heavily impacted by labour shortages, and have the capacity to address gaps currently facing the sector and/or region.

How much is awarded?

Funding is available for up to 70% of eligible costs up to $250,000. Funding requests for less than 70% of eligible costs are preferred.

Who can apply?

For-profit businesses are not eligible to apply. A not-for profit organization* may be eligible to apply as a sole applicant but will be given lower merit/preference in comparison to partnerships.

Eligible projects include those that:

  • Investigate challenges related to labour supply access, and identify opportunities to strengthen access to suitable labour supply and labour retention in the sector.
  • Support activities that require additional data or validation prior to the implementation of labour attraction or training projects.
  • Work to characterize and understand methods to reach identified labour force audiences.
  • Implement new or enhanced approaches to attracting or retaining labour (e.g. promotion of in-demand skills and career opportunities in the sector).
  • Develop/implement new or existing programs or expand existing successful sector specific training approaches that address identified current and emerging challenges.

Project Category Priorities:

  • Projects that conduct sector level labour and/or training needs assessments, audits or analysis with action plans to leverage other skills and training programming available in Ontario (e.g. Skills Advance Ontario).
  • Projects that connect available labour supply with opportunities in the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector.
  • Projects that meet the needs of a specific sector and/or region.
  • Projects that involve partnerships with the appropriate industry partners.

How to apply?

Applicants must be represented by a lead entity capable of entering into a funding agreement with the Province of Ontario. The lead entity must provide a Canada Revenue Agency Business Number as part of the application process.

Applications from multiple partners are preferred.

An entity that meets all eligibility criteria, is not-for-profit and Ontario-based (including Ontario Indigenous communities or organizations, and municipalities) and is not an academic/research institution, may apply as a sole applicant. An entity that does not meet these criteria can not apply as a sole applicant.

Detailed instructions for completing and submitting application forms are provided on the first page of the application form. It is critical that applicants follow these instructions to ensure their application is received and can be reviewed.

The additional form for entities that are not the lead entity is available here .

Women Owned Business Grants

Startup Canada Women Entrepreneurship Fund

What is it?

Startup Women helps women entrepreneurs through mentorship, events, and resources. This financial assistance provides micro-grants to women leading STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) businesses in Canada to help them start and grow their businesses. Funds must be used to support business operations or access to business or professional growth opportunities.

How much is awarded?

The maximum contribution under this small business support grant is between $4,000 and $5,000.

Who can apply?

In order to be eligible for this grant you must be:

  • Women entrepreneurs or women-led businesses
  • In the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field
  • Based in Canada

How to apply?

  • To apply you can contact them here .

Communitech Fierce Founders

What is it?

The Fierce Founders Bootcamp is a business and self development fund open to female entrepreneurs with a tech-driven company that have either successfully launched their MVP or are close to doing so.

Each section consists of 25 participants who will each receive personalized, hands-on mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and subject matter experts who will help them build out their business model and refine their company pitch.

How much is awarded?

At the end of the bootcamp, $100,000 in prizes will be awarded to the winner or winners.

Who can apply?

In order to be eligible for this fund, your startup must:

  • Be a company that run on creativity, ingenuity and womanism (startups or scale-ups has at least one female founder or is female-led);
  • Be able to clearly articulate their company’s value proposition;
  • Have an understanding of their market
  • Have a leader with an open mind, interested in new ideas and feedback;
  • Be willing to put in the hard work and learn along the way.
  • Have at least one woman-identifying and/or non-binary founder at their company.

How to apply?

To find out more information and to join the bootcamp, you can sign up here .

Disability Grants

Ontario Disability Support Program: Employment Supports

What is it for?

The Ontario Disability Support Program offers different kinds of support to people with disabilities so that they can start a business. The support includes financial help towards the costs of business tools, equipment and supplies, licenses and certification.

More detailed information about the types of support recipients can receive is as follows:

  • Help to develop and implement a business plan.
  • Training in money management, record keeping and budgeting.
  • Help with marketing your business.
  • Mentoring
  • Help getting work-related disability supports, such as assistive devices, adaptive technical equipment, interpreter, intervenor, reader and notetaker services.

How much is awarded?

There is no fixed amount for how much money is awarded to you. This support grant is decided on a case-by-case basis.

Who can apply?

To qualify for ODSP employment supports, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Be an Ontario resident.
  • Be legally allowed to work in Canada.
  • Have a substantial physical or mental disability that is expected to last a year or more, and makes it hard for you to find or keep a job.

How to apply?

To apply for financing you will need to complete an application package that consist of these two forms: Application for Employment Support & Verification of Disability/Impairment

You may also wish to contact an employment supports service provider to help guide you through the application process.

Secure your Ontario business grants loans when you use QuickBooks Online . This tool will help you manage your books and organize your business. Get your funding off to the right start today when you sign up for free!

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