2019-09-23 12:55:45 Starting a Business English How to identify and apply for Canadian federal, provincial, corporate, and non-profit grants to get funding and grow your small business or... https://quickbooks.intuit.com/ca/resources/ca_qrc/uploads/2019/09/Canadian_Small_business_grants-_10_resources_and_25_grants_to_get_funding_featured.jpg https://quickbooks.intuit.com/ca/resources/starting-business/grants-for-small-business/ Canadian small business grants: Tools and tips to get funding

Canadian small business grants: Tools and tips to get funding

31 min read

The best resources for small business grants in 2019

  1. Canada GrantWatch
    A searchable database of Canadian small business and non-profit grants. The site also provides up-to-date news and information about the latest available funds.
  2. Canada Startups funding database
    Information and access to over 800 government grants and loans. You must pay a membership fee to search the database.
  3. Etools for exporting (Canada business database)
    A searchable database of provincial and territory-specific programs and services to help you find loans, grants, and other funding options for your small business or startup.
  4. Funding programs for employment and social development
    A list of links to Canadian government grants and contributions that help support jobs, training, and social development.
  5. Fundingportal
    Fundingportal helps you find funding from 11,000 government grants and business incentive programs in the U.S., Canada, and the UK.
  6. Futurepreneur Canada
    The only national, nonprofit organization that provides financing, mentoring, and support tools to aspiring small business owners aged 18-39.
  7. Government of Canada business grants and financing
    Gain access to information on all Canadian government grants, loans, private, and public sector financing and leveraging personal assets.
  8. Mitacs
    You’ll find a list of programs and funds available for projects that connect Canadian academia, industry, and the world—to create a more innovative Canada.
  9. Indigenous small business owner funding programs
    A list of Canadian government funding services for First Nations or Indigenous citizens of Canada.
  10. Startup Canada grants and programs
    Startup Canada offers two startup funds, an international startup competition, and many supportive startup programs and awards.

What are Canadian small business grants?

Standard government small business loans or capital from banks, angel investors, and VC firms (e.g.,) are often the funding channels of choice for Canadian entrepreneurs. However, if you’re willing to invest the time, you may be able to apply for several Canadian small business grants.

Keep in mind; small business grants are not free money. However, they don’t typically require repayment either. Primarily, they’re varying amounts of early-stage small business funding—awarded to entrepreneurs seeking to start or cultivate projects for specific purposes. The objective of said projects is to create value for grantees such as governments, nonprofits, and corporations.

Put another way; grant funding is a source of capital for small businesses that don’t require you to give up a stake in your company or accumulate new debt.

Here are a few things to consider before you apply for a grant:

They’re restrictive

Government grants are for specific purposes, with strict eligibility requirements that outline what costs can be covered.

Applications require time and effort

The grant application process takes time and is rigid. You need to be extremely thorough.

Response times can be slow

You might wait weeks or months to hear back about whether you’re approved for a government grant.

It’s highly competitive

Many other highly qualified candidates will submit their best ideas and have perfected how to apply for small business grants.

There are strings attached

Funds awarded often come with a contingency to get matching funds or a loan to supplement the grant. The government or a corporate grant administrator may ask that you submit extra paperwork, like monthly or quarterly progress reports.

How to get small business grants in Canada

Many funding programs have firm policies about which companies may receive funds and even how recipients can use your grant money. If your organization, business objectives, demographic targets, or size don’t fit with the goals of the grant, you won’t likely receive it. That’s why you’ll need a detailed business plan as part of your application.

To help you access all your options, we’ll review four types of small business grants along with 25 different grants opportunities available to Canadian SMEs:

  • Federal government grants
  • Provincial and local government grants
  • Government grants for women small business owners
  • Corporate or private grants for small businesses
  • NGO grants for minority small business owners

Federal small business and startup grants

The Canadian government leans on companies and academia to conduct research and create new technologies.

So when a political party says they’re dedicated to economic development, environmental sustainability, finding cures for diseases or reducing unemployment—government agencies award grants to small business owners already working to achieve these objectives.

Growth grants help governments achieve a similar goal to fuel innovation through startup businesses.

The Canadian federal grant-driven approach to problem-solving means grants usually fall into one of four categories:

  1. Research and development
  2. Exporting grants for selling internationally
  3. Nonprofit or local government work
  4. Wage assistance programs

Research and development

Many planned Canadian government grants are for small businesses support, research and development initiatives. From climate change to healthcare, the government needs private companies and organizations to conduct research and develop products, services, and programs to address the problems in any given area.

Review the national grant programs below to learn how the federal government engages small businesses to effectively research problems and create appropriate solutions:

1. Canada Media Fund (CMF): Experimental Stream

What is it?

Funding for the CMF Experimental Stream’s Innovation Program goes to businesses developing Canadian interactive digital media content and software applications that are considered “innovative and leading-edge.”

A jury awards funds through a selective process based on an evaluation grid. There are four essential assessment criteria that determine if you get funding:

  • Experience and past achievements of the production/development team
  • Innovation and advancement of the project
  • The business plan, including the viability of the project and the financial stability of the applicant
  • The distribution strategy

Applications are not evaluated for development and marketing support.

How much does it award?

If your application is successful, you can receive funding in an amount appropriate to the needs of your project, which is “subject to a Maximum Contribution of 75% of your project’s Eligible Costs, or $400,000, whichever is less.”

Eligible Projects for this limited access are subject to an overall Project Maximum Contribution cap of $1.2M.

Who can apply?

An eligible applicant to the CMF is either:

1) A for-profit, taxable Canadian corporation, as per the Income Tax Act (Canada). The company must be Canadian-controlled as determined by sections 26 to 28 of the Investment Canada Act, and have its head office based in Canada.

Not-for-profit corporations are not eligible Applicants to the CMF. However, coproductions or partnerships between for-profit and not-for-profit corporations may be allowed where the nonprofit corporation holds a minority interest in the project. Note: The CMF will only contribute to the “Eligible Costs related to the for-profit corporation.”

2) A Canadian Broadcaster

Eligible applicants “must own and control all the rights necessary to produce and exploit the project that is the subject of the application at every stage of the project’s life-cycle, including Prototyping.”

How to apply?

Review the application guidelines and supporting documents that walk you through all of the requirements and appropriate information required.

2. Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC)

What is it?

Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) is a new program that supports the scale-up and growth of Canada’s innovators and entrepreneurs, whereby the federal government acts as your first customer.

Twenty participating federal departments and agencies set aside a portion of funding to support the creation of innovative solutions by Canadian small businesses.

By funding proposed solutions, the program is supporting the development of early-stage, pre-commercial innovations. ISC program objectives include:

  • Fuel development and adoption of technological innovation in Canada to accelerate commercialization.
  • Grow Canadian companies through direct funding to support early-stage, pre-commercial research and development, late-stage prototypes.
  • Encourage procurement from companies led by under-represented groups, such as women, Indigenous, youth, disabled individuals, LGBTQ+, and others.
  • Foster greater industry-research collaboration by generating initiatives that address key Government of Canada priorities.
  • Provide federal departments and agencies with opportunities to develop new capabilities to meet their research and development needs.

How much does it award?

  • If selected, your idea could receive up to $150,000 in support to develop a proof of concept.
  • If your proof of concept is approved, you could receive up to $1 million in support to develop a prototype.
  • If your developed innovation solves the Federal Government’s challenge, they could be your first buyer.

Who can apply?

Your small business must meet all of the following criteria to submit a solution proposal:

  • A for-profit business
  • Incorporated in Canada (federally or provincially)
  • Has 499 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) workers
  • Have research and development activities that take place in Canada
  • At least 50% or more of your business’ annual wages, salaries, and fees are currently paid to employees and contractors who spend the majority of their time working in Canada
  • A minimum of 50% of FTE employees have Canada as their ordinary place of work
  • A baseline of 50% or more of your senior executives (Vice President and above) have Canada as their principal residence

Note: Calculations must take into account and include affiliated businesses, such as parent companies and subsidiaries, that are either in or outside of Canada.

How to apply?

Follow all of the program steps outlined on the ISC website. Stay up-to-date on current challenges as they are subject to change.

3. SDTC Tech Fund

What is it?

The Sustainable Development Technology Fund (SDTC) supports pre-commercial projects with “the potential to demonstrate significant and quantifiable environmental and economic benefits in one or more of the following areas: climate change, clean air, clean water, and clean soil.”

How much does it award?

SDTC provides:

  • On average, 33% (up to 40%) of your eligible project costs.
  • The average contribution is $3 million, with funds disbursed in five years or less.
  • 25% of the eligible costs must be funded through private sector contributions (including in-kind).
  • Funding from all levels of government must not surpass 75% of eligible costs.
  • At least 50% of eligible project costs must be incurred in Canada.

Who can apply?

To be eligible for funding, applicants must:

  • Be a Canadian company developing a new and unique technology with significant and quantifiable environmental benefits to provide a significant retained Canadian benefit following the execution of your project.
  • Have a defined project and seek to demonstrate a pre-commercial technology.
  • Have a strong end-user, value proposition, and can validate the market and commercialization potential of your technology.
  • Form a consortium with at least one other partner. It’s recommended that you seek partners who’re either end-users or can validate the need and market for your technology.

How to apply?

Visit SDTC’s application portal.

Exporting grants for selling internationally

A significant challenge for Canadian small businesses and startups is international expansion and export market access. The federal government has, therefore, developed programs and grants that are available to help small businesses to export out of the country.

4. CanExport SMEs

What is it?

They provide financial assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) registered in Canada to help develop export opportunities for your product or service in new international markets. Funds are delivered by the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) of Global Affairs Canada, in partnership with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP).

How much does it award?

The CanExport SMEs program requires applicants to submit a detailed budget for your project, for which expenses total between $20,000 and $100,000. The program reimburses up to 75 percent of eligible costs to offer between $15,000 and $75,000 in funding per project.

Companies participating in trade missions organized by Global Affairs Canada for groups under-represented in international trade (e.g., women, LGBTQ2, and Indigenous exporters) may exceptionally submit a project of less than $20,000 for consideration.

An applicant can only have one active CanExport SMEs project at any given time but may apply multiple times contingent on the total funding received not exceeding $99,999 per government fiscal year (April 1 to March 31 of the following calendar year). A group of related companies (i.e., parent company, subsidiaries, sister companies, and affiliates) cannot receive more than $200,000 in funding in one single fiscal year.

Who can apply?

To be considered for funding, you must run an incorporated, or limited liability partnership (LLP) for-profit company, and have a CRA business number.

Likewise, you must have less than 500 full-time equivalents (FTE) employees, and between $100,000 and $100 million in annual revenue declared in Canada during your last complete tax reporting year (or during the previous 12 months for monthly and quarterly filers).

If your business doesn’t have a CRA business number because you’re registered on First Nations reserve lands, you may request an exemption by submitting a request to the Director-General (Global Affairs Canada) in charge of the CanExport SMEs program: CanExport@international.gc.ca

How to apply?

You can apply for one project at a time via the online platform. Expect to hear back within 25 business days of submitting your completed application.

5. Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN) Soft Landing program

What is it?

The CDMN Soft Landing program offers qualified, mature technology startups and scale-ups exposure to business opportunities outside of Canada. Companies can use this program to “open new markets, close international sales, secure investment, and connect with new partners abroad.”

How much does it award?

Successful candidates will receive up to $4,000 CAD in reimbursable expenses to help offset transportation and accommodation costs. If you land at a co-working space, accelerator or incubator, you may also have the costs associated with workspace covered for up to three months.

Who can apply?

Good candidates are revenue-generating Canadian technology startups and SMEs looking to grow your customer base, open a satellite office, develop distribution channels or partnerships, or secure investment abroad. The program doesn’t support your travel for events, conferences, trade shows, or trade missions.

How to apply?

The Soft Landing program is managed through the CDMN hub network. However, they encourage that you work with your local hub when applying to the program. You’re still welcome to apply if you reside in a region without a CDMN hub partner.

You’ll be evaluated based on criteria, including your business’ revenue generation over the last 12 months, the current state of your company and product, and the viability of your stated goals and objectives.

For further information, you can contact Brett McNeil, Coordinator, Network Relations & Programs, info@cdmn.ca.

Nonprofit grants

Most nonprofits’ goals align with federal government goals because they’re issue-driven. Still, it’s a challenge for nonprofits to raise money from outside investors and banks.

If you run a nonprofit, you may be eligible to apply for government grants or other low-cost funding opportunities through multiple organizations across Canada that provide this type of funding.

You can also visit Charity Village, which outlines many funding options for non-profits.

The examples below highlight how the government supports worthy nonprofit causes, even though they don’t generate a profitable business model.

6. Environment and Climate Change funding programs

Provides funding to individuals and nonprofit organizations interested in participating in environmental assessments. Funding is available for several projects, related to:

  • The aboriginal fund for species at risk
  • Atlantic ecosystems initiative
  • EcoAction community funding program
  • Environmental damages fund
  • Habitat stewardship program
  • Low carbon energy fund

Qualifications and funding amounts vary by program. You can learn more about all of the programs and how to apply on the ECC website.

7. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

CIHR is a federal agency that invests $1 billion annually to support health research in Canada. The site explains your project funding requirements across four pillars of health research: biomedical, clinical, health systems services, and population health.

Additionally, it provides a list of current funding opportunities.

Review the CIHR general applications process on the website for more details.

8. Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts distributes grants to nonprofit arts organizations all over Canada, in addition to individual artists.

In 2017-18, the Canada Council gave grants to over 2,300 Canadian artists and almost 1,900 arts organizations.

The council runs several different grant programs each year. Grant types include funding for individual artists and organizations across a variety of disciplines, both at home and abroad.

If you run an arts-based organization, check the site regularly for opportunities and deadlines.

Wage assistance programs

One of the most significant barriers to small business growth is the high cost of labor. The time commitment and expense of onboarding new employees can go well beyond a small business’ budget and hold back entry into new markets.

To accelerate growth and reduce unemployment, federal and provincial governments offer incentives for hiring to ease a cash-strapped company into a round of hiring.

Grants are often targeted toward a demographic the government feels needs help. Some of the most commonly used grants are:

9. Canada-Ontario job grant

What is it?

Provides direct financial support to individual employers or employer groups, of all business sizes, who want to invest in short-term training for their existing and new employees.

How much does it award?

Covers up to two-thirds (maximum $10,000) of the cost of third-party training for new employees who need vocational education to work with you. An eligible, third-party trainer must deliver training. Small employers with less than 100 employees need to contribute 1/6 of training costs.

Who can apply?

To be eligible for the program, your Ontario-licensed business has to meet all of the requirements outlined in the application website.

How to apply?

Follow all of the steps in the online application form.

10. Canada Summer Jobs

What is it?

The program provides wage subsidies to employers from not-for-profit organizations, the public sector, and private sector organizations with 50 or fewer full-time employees, to create quality summer work experiences for young people aged 15 to 30 years.

How much is awarded?

The amount awarded is not stated. You must first register online with the government’s Grants and Contributions Online Services (GCOS) to learn more.

Who can apply?

There are 15 eligibility requirements that your business must meet for your project to be considered. You can find them in the application guidelines document.

How to apply

You can apply online during the application period. The link will be updated when the next round of applications are open.

11. Housing Internship Initiative for First Nation and Inuit Youth

What is it?

Provides financial aid to help First Nations and Inuit businesses and organizations create housing-related internships for youth. These internships can provide much-needed work experience and on-the-job training to youth.

How much does it award?

Program sponsors get wages subsidies from CMHC, which cover your mandatory expenses (e.g., vacation pay, Employment Insurance, pension plan, and workers’ compensation premiums). You must pay at least the minimum wage for your province or territory.

Who can apply?

It’s available to First Nation and Inuit organizations. Sponsors of youth trainees can include businesses, councils, and self-government entities.

 

As a program sponsor, you are required to:

  • Have the time and staff resources available to provide on-the-job training
  • Have an office in a First Nation or Inuit community (or within commuting distance for the trainee)
  • Cover the trainee’s travel and accommodation costs (if you’re located outside the community)
  • Cover all administrative costs related to the trainee’s position (such as supervisor’s time or the provision of safety equipment)
  • Hire the trainee for a minimum of 8 weeks, up to a max of 2 years

How to apply?

For application requirements, visit the CMHC website and contact a First Nation Housing Specialist near you.

Provincial and local government grants

While the federal government provides small business grants to manage nation-wide and global solutions, provincial and local governments award grants to focus on needs related to local issues.

For example, the Canadian Institute of Health Research awards federal grants that cover the expanse of healthcare research. Meanwhile, the City of Toronto awards a grant focused on social enterprise, and the province of British Columbia offers grants to businesses working in natural resources and applied sciences.

QQQTwo common trends show up in provincial and local government small business grants.

First, provincial and local governments use grant money to ignite product innovation and create jobs. Second, they fund projects that meet a specific local need.

12. Alberta Innovates: Voucher and Micro-Voucher programs

What is it?

The Alberta Innovation Voucher and Micro-Voucher programs were designed to “support innovation and creative problem-solving for Alberta small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).” The goal is to spur the development and commercialization of new technology or business solutions and generate “material risk-weighted returns on investment to the Province of Alberta based on economic, social or environmental metrics.”

How much is awarded?

If your business fits the eligibility guidelines, you can apply for $10,000 up to $100,000 based on your business needs.

Who can apply?

For vouchers: Vouchers support technologies in the “mid-to-late developmental stages but may include some early developmental stages.” The aim is to fund SMEs that collaborate with up to three service or product providers and advance their technologies closer to commercialization.

For micro-vouchers: The Micro Voucher Program encourages “high potential, high growth Small/Medium Enterprises (“SMEs”) with novel, promising technologies, strong management, and a reasonably identified product/market fit” to accelerate the commercialization of new products.

How to apply

Complete your application via the online application portal.

13. Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)

What is it?

The ACOA’s business development program (BDP) funds entrepreneurs starting up, expanding, or seeking to modernize their business. The program supports SMEs and co-operatives and provides access to capital in the form of interest-free repayable assistance. The BDP also provides funding, via non-repayable financial aid, to not-for-profit organizations supporting Atlantic businesses.

How much is awarded?

The BDP can help cover up to 50 percent of the eligible start-up, working capital, and capital costs of a new establishment, modernization, or expansion project. Related operational costs for activities such as training, studies, marketing/trade, productivity improvement, quality assurance, and environmental management systems may be eligible for up to 75 percent financing. Assistance is repayable on a schedule tailored to your circumstances.

Who can apply?

Most business sectors are eligible except retail/wholesale, real estate, government services, and services of a personal or social nature. To be considered, your project should:

  • Meet strategic priorities identified by ACOA
  • Provide economic benefit for Atlantic Canada
  • Demonstrate the need for financial assistance
  • Be economically viable

How to apply

Download and complete the form via the ACOA’s website.

14. Innovate BC’s Ignite program

What is it?

The Ignite program funds projects in the areas of natural resources, applied science and/or engineering. They’re looking for teams comprised of industry and academia to come together and solve real-life business problems in a three-year time frame.

How much is awarded?

Eligible participants can receive up to $300,000.

Who can apply?

You must be a BC-based team made up of two or more companies, organizations, and academic researchers. All teams must include an academic member and an industry partner. Proposals must involve the areas of natural resources, applied science and/or engineering, and must outline the business problem you and your team is tackling and planning to bring to market in three years.

How to apply

Review the program guidelines and download the application form from the website.

15. Northwest Territories Business Development Project Fund (BDPF)

What is it?

You can apply for the BDPF to help fund your start-up expenses, business expansion, purchase raw materials, and short-term projects that create employment.

How much is awarded?

The maximum is $10,000 in any five-year period.

Who can apply?

Only businesses with $500,000 or less in annual revenues are eligible for the application process.

How to apply

Application forms can be found and completed online.

16. 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 financial 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.

17. 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.

17. Quebec financial support for aspiring farmers

What is it?

The goal of the fund is to “help young producers establish themselves on an existing farm or start a new business.”

How much is awarded?

The full-time grant helps to facilitate your full-time establishment and encourages you to get agricultural training. You’ll receive between $20,000 and $50,000 to do so.

The part-time grant supports a part-time startup, as well as agricultural training—the grant funds between $10,000 to $25,000 in support.

Who can apply?

Aspiring farmers in the province of Quebec.

How to apply

Review the details on the program description page.

18. 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?

The program awards funding worth between $10,000 and $30,000.

Who can apply?

The program is for groups 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 funding is a grant, and the other half is a loan.

Government grants for women

In a recent global entrepreneurship survey, almost 85% of Canadian women surveyed said they were interested in starting their own business. Unfortunately, only 37% of self-employed people in Canada are women—making 58% less than their male counterparts.

It’s a big reason why the Canadian government has recently committed to creating small business grants for women, plus additional financing options to help female founders succeed. It’s part of an overall Women in Entrepreneurship strategy.

20. Women Entrepreneurship Fund (WEF)

What is it?

Through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, Canada aims to add $150 billion in incremental GDP by 2026 and reach a goal of doubling the number of majority women-owned businesses by 2025.

WEF was, therefore, set up to help women grow their small businesses and facilitate new global market opportunities.

How much is awarded?

The WEF is a $20 million investment that provides up to $100,000 in non-repayable contribution funding for one year.

Who can apply?

Women-owned and women-led businesses can apply for investment in activities that focus on:

  • Pursuing market opportunities abroad
  • Scaling-up, expansion, and growth
  • Additional programs that support their objectives of applying for WEF

How to apply?

Follow the instructions via the online application guide.

21. The Women in Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund

What is it?

The WES Ecosystem Fund is investing $85 million over five years to “strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem and close gaps in service for women entrepreneurs.”

Projects must be led by non-profit organizations (including social enterprises and cooperatives), and include the needs of diverse and under-represented women.

How much is awarded?

There are two streams of funding for female-owned small businesses:

National and Multi-Regional Stream: $15 million will go to national or multi-regional projects.  National projects (delivering benefits in all provinces and territories) are given priority.  The minimum funding amount that will be considered for a national or multi-regional project is $1 million.

Your project must combine three or more of these regions: Western Canada, Northern Ontario, Southern Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and Northern Canada.

Regional Stream:  $70 million of the funds will go to projects planned in one of the already listed regions.

Who can apply?

The purpose of the WES Ecosystem Fund is to “address gaps and build capacity in the entrepreneurship ecosystem for women.” Therefore, your business could be eligible if your main activities include:

  • Supplier diversity activities targeting women entrepreneurs
  • Initiatives to support women in underrepresented sectors
  • Networking, matchmaking, and mentorship programs
  • Incubator and accelerator opportunities
  • Initiatives supporting the participation of diverse and underrepresented women in entrepreneurship
  • Efforts to scale up programs that support women entrepreneurs, both regionally and nationally
  • Other activities that support the WES Ecosystem Fund goals

How to apply?

Review the process through the online application guide.

22. Startup Canada women founders fund

What is it?

Startup Canada and OnDeck Canada are working together to invest in women-led companies in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). They’ve created a platform to provide micro-grants to women entrepreneurs across Canada and accelerate gender parity while growing economic opportunities for women.

How much is awarded?

Applicants can receive up to $5,000 grants to support business operations or business growth opportunities. You’ll also gain media exposure via a promotional feature on StartupNews.ca and a guest-spot on THRIVE Podcast for Women Entrepreneurs.

Who can apply?

Applicants must be Canadian women entrepreneurs or women-led businesses in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field.

Funds awarded must be used to “support business operations or access to business or professional growth opportunities.”

You must also confirm that your business is a new initiative that requires seed funding to prosper, or is an existing SME seeking to augment operations or the ability to access business development.

How to apply?

Complete the application form online.

NGO grants for minority and LGBT+ entrepreneurs

Finally, there are many grants that can be accessed by minority-owned small businesses and LGBT+ entrepreneurs. Here are a few opportunities:

23. Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada Grants

This grants program, which is funded by proceeds from an endowment established by the Government of Canada, supports research and informed discussion on Canada’s relations with Asia. The foundation offers the following fellowship programs:

  • Post-graduate research fellowships
  • Distinguished fellowships
  • Media fellowships
  • McArthur fellowship

Information about each of the grants and how to apply is on the Asia Pacific foundation website.

24. Community Support for Black Canadian Youth initiative

Provides funding to private businesses and nonprofit organizations interested in supporting Black Canadian Youth. Funding is available for several projects, related to:

  • Mentorships, internships and post-secondary scholarships
  • Skills development initiatives
  • Development of learning materials, tools, and training sessions;
  • Network and partnership development;
  • Leadership and volunteerism initiatives;
  • Knowledge-sharing initiatives;
  • Meetings, events and workshops; and
  • Development of programs, policies, and services responsive to diversity, or combatting racism and discrimination

Qualifications and funding amounts vary by program. Learn more about these programs and how to apply on the Canadian government’s website.

25. CGLCC LGBT+ Youth Entrepreneur Program

The program’s objective is to empower LGBTQ youth (aged 18-39) by providing support and guidance to help them establish or grow their own business. The “OUT For Business” initiative offers four components to support LGBTQ Youth Entrepreneurs:

  • Access to funding
  • Formal mentorship and networking opportunities with entrepreneurs, business leaders and supporters from the community
  • Business skills development, such as business planning, finance, sales & marketing, and human resources
  • Access to information resources regarding all facets of starting and operating a business

The Program works with existing small business and enterprise programs supporting LGBTQ Youth Entrepreneurs. Further program details and application forms can be accessed on the CGLCC website.

Corporate or private grants for small businesses

Federal and provincial governments aren’t the only ones with a stake in helping small businesses to thrive through grant programs.

Especially in Canada, where small-to-medium-sized businesses create roughly 90% of all jobs, the large, private enterprises stand to benefit by developing the small business world.

Similar to government small business grants, corporate funds are awarded to organizations that qualify based on a defined set of requirements.

If your business is successful, you may benefit from a corporate grant or grant competition.

26. Cartier Women’s Initiative (CWI)

What is it?

The CWI is seeking committed female entrepreneurs around the globe who lead businesses with the potential to grow significantly in the coming years. It’s an excellent opportunity to help you accelerate the growth of your company.

How much is awarded?

The seven laureates (one from each region identified on the website) will receive $100,000 USD in prize money.

The 14 finalists (the two runners-up from each region) will receive $30,000 USD in prize money

On top of the prize money, all 21 finalists will receive a scholarship to partake in a six-day INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Executive Education Program (pending admission to the program based on eligibility criteria and selection process).

You’ll also get ongoing support for the further growth and development of your business.

Who can apply?

In addition to being an early stage, for-profit company led by a woman, your business must fit additional eligibility criteria outlined on the website.

How to apply?

Visit the CWIA website and follow the steps outlined at the bottom of the page.

27. FedEx Canada Small Business Grant Contest

What is it?

FedEx runs an annual small business grant contest; it was held in Canada for the second time from April to May 2019.

The contest was developed to provide small businesses with support and financial resources to “help them grow and be competitive locally and in markets around the world.”

How much is awarded?

The grand prize winner receives a $30,000 CAD grant, plus a brand marketing workshop with public relations and digital marketing agency FleishmanHillard HighRoad worth $10,000 CAD.

Second place receives a $15,000 CAD grant, and a brand marketing workshop with FleishmanHillard HighRoad worth $5,000 CAD.

Eight additional winners will receive a $5,000 CAD grant each.

Who can apply?

Canadian-based for-profit small businesses with 99 employees or less and have been operating for six months or more.

How to apply?

Participants should visit fedex.ca/grant, enter your contact information, write a short profile about your company, and upload photos of your business or product.

28. TELUS Business Solutions $100,000 grant contest

What is it?

An annual nationwide small business pitch contest that awards the winner and finalists grant money they can use to grow faster.

How much is awarded?

The TELUS Pitch Live Summit winner receives $100,000 in cash, plus they get to select a charity to receive an additional $10,000. The remaining four, pitch contest finalists each receive a cash prize of $10,000.

Who can apply?

Canadian-based startup and small business owners.

How to apply?

Watch out for information about the 2020 pitch contest that will open in May. The results of the 2019 pitch contest are on the website.

Before you apply for grants to start a business

Once you find a startup business grant that meets your business needs, make sure to read through the fine print in the application guidelines.

An excellent first step in applying for funding is to contact the local government representative specified in the grant documents. They can verify whether your company meets the requirements for candidacy and provide up-to-date information about the funding opportunity.

You may need to submit a statement of intent to the funding body. It’s a short document that outlines what your company does and why you think you should receive funding. Your statement helps the funding body confirm whether you should apply for the grant.

The funding body may let you know you’re not the best candidate based on your statement, which can save you time so you can apply for something else.

Should you hire a grant writer?

Knowing how to apply for a government or corporate business grant is a special skill that can be developed over time. The application process is often lengthy and technical, requiring you to provide detailed, persuasive presentations of data and business goals.

A grant writer’s job is to be an expert on how to get a grant and to complete your desired application on time. They must include all critical information to ensure it meets all stated requirements as well.

Of course, that writer’s time is valuable. So, we’ve outlined some pros and cons to determine whether you should invest in their help.

Pros and cons

The advantages of enlisting the services of a grant writer, rather than doing the work of applying for a grant on your own, include:

  • They’ll get the job done correctly the first time—there’s no learning curve on their end
  • You’ll meet the application deadline, even if you’re too busy running your business
  • The grant writer may notice things about your company to include in the grant application that you might overlook
  • Using an experienced grant writer, who knows how to craft a good proposal, can substantially improve your chances of obtaining a grant

Of course, the cost is the most significant disadvantage of hiring a professional grant writer. They may charge up to several thousand dollars for writing a major grant funding proposal, and there’s still no guarantee your company will be awarded the grant.

Funding your small business growth

The corporate and government business grants highlighted above are an introduction to the types of small business funding available in Canada. There are likely more that are relevant to your specific industry or business objectives. If you can locate a grant that fits your business, it can be a great alternative to raising capital through investors, personal debt,  a business loan, or business credit.

If your business includes job creation, social enterprise, or technology innovation element, Canadian grant funds are looking to support you. Your formal application should, therefore, provide detailed information about your business model, current financial status, and business history.

For more grant options, search the Government of Canada website for listings of all the grants that are currently available. You can also search by category to find government funding options that are right for your business. Are you starting a new small business?

Our article for new business owners guides you through the 15 steps to start a business, along with a downloadable checklist you can fill out to go from idea to launch to success.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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