Starting a new business can be an exciting endeavor. Entrepreneurship is on the rise as more Canadians are looking to make meaningful change, build alternative sources of income, and innovate to build new products and services that solve common problems.
While entrepreneurship can sound like a wonderful idea at the outset, most established entrepreneurs will tell you that starting and growing a successful business is no easy feat. In fact, starting a business is often a struggle that requires long hours and has unforeseen setbacks, including financial hurdles that can threaten to halt progress in its tracks.
The most successful entrepreneurs are creative, resilient, and agile. This applies to sourcing funding to grow your business as well. Traditional lending through investors, banks, or credit unions is a common start, but few entrepreneurs realize that there is an opportunity to source further funding through non-repayable government grants. Various programs are offered at federal, provincial, and regional levels to support business investments that positively benefit the economy and your community. However, for many new business owners and entrepreneurs, understanding the sphere of business development grants and decoding program eligibility can be overwhelming. The good news is that GrantMatch has already done the research so that you can get back to work.
We are happy to highlight seven funding programs ideal for start-ups and SMEs that support important initial growth phases in various sectors, particularly in tech and digital innovation:
Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP)
CDAP consists of two helpful streams: The Boost Your Business Technology Grant stream supports Canadian small businesses in developing tailored digital plans. This Canadian small business grant covers 90% of costs up to $15,000. It also includes a loan program to support implementation of digital plans, which provides up to $100,000 with 0% interest. The Grow Your Business Online stream provides $2,400 to set up e-commerce and grow sales online.
For CDAP, applicants can focus on enhancing e-commerce, building their digital marketing efforts, improving operational efficiency, and investing in the digital and tech resources needed to improve your business.
This program supports start-ups located in southern Ontario. A key concept for this program is to “future-proof” your business in a way that builds resiliency and moves towards a green economy while enhancing competitiveness. Eligible projects include commercialization of innovation or adoption of innovative technology. The start-up stream provides matching funding of up to $25,000.
thriveFORWARD prioritizes businesses owned or majority-led by underrepresented groups, as well as businesses in critical sectors, such as those impacting food production, medical supplies, or bio-manufacturing.
DMZ Incubator + Black Innovation Fellowship:
The DMZ Incubator at Toronto Metropolitan University is a highly customized, equity-based grant program that helps venture-backable tech startups grow their business over the course of 18 months. Open to businesses throughout Canada, the DMZ Incubator/BIF is ideal for early-stage tech start-ups. The DMZ Incubator offers grants of up to $25,000 and provides an additional $10,000 in funding for Black founders to put toward business growth as part of the Black Innovation Fellowship (BIF).
The DMZ Incubator program (and BIF) supports tech startups with some form of market validation by helping them navigate the challenges involved in getting a business off the ground.
Commercial Entrepreneurship Fund
The Commercial Entrepreneurship Fund (CEF) is intended for Montréal-based start-ups and growing businesses in the retail sector. This program aims to support retail start-ups as they become established and grow, with a particular focus on e-commerce projects for these businesses. CEF covers up to 25% of project costs, providing grants of up to $25,000 to support retail entrepreneurship projects.
Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program
The Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program (AEP) provides Indigenous entrepreneurs and business owners in Canada with access to capital and business opportunities. The AEP funds a broad range of entrepreneurial pursuits, aiming to build capacity, reduce barriers, and increase access to capital by forging partnerships that will increase economic opportunities for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people.
The program offers two funding streams: Access to Capital and Access to Business Opportunities. Access to Capital provides Indigenous businesses with support related to eligible business proposals and the leveraging of additional funds. Access to Business Opportunities provides funding to support entrepreneurship and increase the capacity of Indigenous businesses. Eligible activities for this stream include institutional and business development, business advocacy and training, and commercial innovation and growth. Eligible activities will be reimbursed for 100% of costs to a maximum of $500,000.
INVEST North Program
The INVEST North Program offers an Investment - Launch Stream for businesses starting up operations in Northern Ontario. This program focuses on job creation and promoting an economic development advantage for the region. Eligible projects include activities like capital construction, new or used equipment, information & communications technology investments, and marketing for new products and business initiatives. Grants may cover 50% of project costs up to $200,000.
Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) New Brunswick: Agri-Industry Development and Advancement
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) is comprised of various programs meant to strengthen and grow Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industry by supporting advancements in crop and livestock sectors, market development, and agri-land enhancement. This New Brunswick-specific grant helps producers and new entrant farmers (those who have owned a farm for five years or less) develop improved business, technical, and leadership skills, as well as to take the steps needed for expansion or diversification, financial risk management, marketing, or overall business management.
CAP New Brunswick funding may cover up to $15,000 in planning and implementation projects, and up to $10,000 for marketing initiatives. New entrants are eligible for an additional 10% cost share on top of the approved funding support for a particular program.
Next Steps - Taking Action
The grants outlined here provide just a small snapshot of the government funding opportunities available to new, growing businesses. There are thousands of funding programs currently accepting applications, each geared towards a unique industry, investment type, or objective. With so many diverse funding programs available, each with a nuanced set of guidelines and sometimes unpredictable deadlines, GrantMatch strives to ensure startups and small businesses have visibility into the most relevant financial supports to make funding more attainable.
To solve the challenges that many business owners face in determining which grant programs they may be eligible for, the GrantMatch team developed the GrantMatch Hub, a brand new, all-in-one platform that makes it easy to identify and apply for grants that fit your business. For as little as $25 per month (when you sign up for an annual subscription), you can access customized, continually updated program matches, clear program summaries, and more.
Signing up takes less than 5 minutes.
The sign-up process is simple:
- Click here to create your account.
- Start by filling out some basic information about your business (sector, number of employees, revenue range, etc.).
- Choose between a monthly or annual subscription and complete checkout.
- Explore what the platform has to offer and begin reviewing curated grant program matches for your business.
- Receive new grant matches in your inbox as programs are introduced.
The GrantMatch Hub gives you the tools you need to succeed in securing funding.