Small Business Grants in Canada

Aug 1, 2023

Many people in Canada who want to start or expand a business often begin their search for financial assistance with a small business grant.

Regrettably, there are actually only a limited number of federal or provincial government grants available for small businesses in Canada, and the requirements for qualifying for these grants are quite strict. As an applicant, you generally need to work in a specific business sector and reside in a specific geographic region of the country.

Furthermore, some of these government grants are actually a combination of grants and loans, or they are designed for specific programs, such as marketing campaigns. In these cases, the business may be required to contribute up to 50 percent of the total cost.


Grants and Venture Capital Programs in Canada

Buy Local Program in British Columbia offers funding to businesses involved in agriculture, food, and seafood industries. The funding is intended for marketing purposes, such as branding, advertising on radio/TV and in print, social media campaigns, and participation in trade shows. The main goal is to encourage the consumption of locally grown, raised, harvested, or processed foods. To be eligible for the program, businesses must be located in British Columbia and planning to launch a new marketing campaign. Applicants are required to contribute 50 percent of the total project cost.

Established in 1997 with support from the federal government and Alberta, AVAC Ltd. is a venture capital investor that provides investment funding for research and commercialization in Alberta-based companies operating in the agriculture, renewable resources, and industrial technology sectors. AVAC offers grants for research related to Agrivalue with the expectation of achieving specific tangible outcomes. This includes the development of new and improved food products, wellness products, bioproducts, and enabling technologies. AVAC’s other investments are made on commercial terms, mainly through royalty-based investments. Eligible businesses must be located in Alberta or demonstrate a substantial potential economic benefit in Alberta.

Export Market Access program in Ontario aims to assist small businesses in becoming exporters by providing grants covering up to 50 percent of the project costs, with a maximum program limit of $150,000. The grants support various activities such as market research and bidding on foreign projects. To qualify, businesses need to be located in Ontario, have a minimum of five employees, and achieve annual sales of $500,000 or more.

Northern Ontario Heritage Fund’s (NOHFC) programs offer grants and loans to small and medium-sized businesses in Northern Ontario, with the objective of creating employment opportunities. The programs include:

1. Northern Business Opportunity Program – Business Expansion Projects: Assists existing businesses in Northern Ontario in expanding their operations and creating jobs.
2. Northern Business Opportunity Program – New Investment Projects: Supports companies interested in expanding or establishing their businesses in Northern Ontario, leading to job creation.
3. Northern Business Opportunity Program – Small Business Startup Projects: Supports business productivity, expansion, and global investment in northern communities.
4. Northern Innovation Program – Applied Research and Technology Development Projects: Assists companies with innovative products or services in moving through the late-stage development and commercialization process to bring their offerings to the market.
5. Northern Innovation Program – Opportunity Assessment Projects: Supports companies in assessing the feasibility of a project, providing justification for further financial investment.
6. Northern Innovation Program – Pilot Demonstration & Commercialization Projects: Supports the late-stage development and pre-commercialization costs for companies, either individually or in partnership with academia, to facilitate the introduction of new technologies to the market.
7. Northern Ontario Internship Program: For-profit businesses can receive up to 50 percent of an employee’s wage, with a maximum of $31,500. Nonprofit and public sector organizations can receive up to 90 percent of an employee’s wage, with the same maximum amount.

Residents of Northern Ontario who wish to establish new businesses must ensure that their businesses will operate on a full-time basis and create at least one job in the region. The specific requirements of each program vary, but they usually involve a combination of grants and loans. For instance, the Northern Business Opportunity Program—Business Expansion Projects offer funding for up to 50 percent of project costs, with a maximum amount of $1 million. Of this funding, 30 percent is provided as a grant, while 20 percent is given as a loan.

In Nova Scotia, the Emerging Music Business Program supports emerging groups and artists, emerging industry professionals, or registered societies by providing non-repayable investment amounting to 50 percent of their project costs, up to a limit of $4,000. To be eligible for this program, the artist or at least 75 percent of the group members must have been residents of Nova Scotia for a minimum of one year.

Fondation du maire de Montréal pour la jeunesse, located in Montreal, offers a grant that covers up to 25 percent of business start-up costs, with a maximum amount of $30,000. To qualify for this grant, applicants must establish their business in a borough or reconstituted city of Montréal, reside in the same area, be between 18 and 35 years old, and hold Canadian citizenship or permanent residency.

Prince Edward Island’s Marketing Support Program provides financial assistance for market research studies, eligible advertising and promotion activities, and eligible market investigation activities. The program covers up to 40 percent of the associated costs for manufacturers, processors, and providers of exportable services. Businesses in the food development, diversified manufacturing, bioscience, information technology, or craft/giftware sector, located in P.E.I., are eligible for this program. However, unique exportable services within other business sectors may also be considered.

Natural Stone Assessment program in Newfoundland/Labrador offers non-repayable grants that cover 75 percent of the exploration and resource assessment costs for new or under-developed natural stone prospects, up to a maximum of $50,000 per project. Businesses must be registered to operate in Newfoundland/Labrador, and the applicant(s) must possess the mineral/quarry rights to the lands specified in the application. They must also demonstrate sufficient funds to cover at least 25 percent of the proposed project’s cost.

New Brunswick Growth Program supports new businesses as well as those undergoing expansion. It provides non-repayable contributions of up to $100,000 per new full-time year-round job created, with a maximum of $15,000 per contribution. For established businesses expanding their operations, the program offers non-repayable contributions of up to $60,000 to support expansion, diversification, improvement of productivity, or enhancement of competitiveness. Eligible businesses must be located in New Brunswick and operate within the manufacturing and processing, information technology, tourism, or exports/imports sectors. Cultural enterprises may also qualify for this program, but a 20 percent equity investment is required.

CBES is here to assist you; feel free to contact us for expert guidance.



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