13 Canadian Small Businesses Grants and Loans
Small businesses drive the Canadian economy forward. For context, by 2021, small businesses were employing 63.8% of the country’s total labour force (a whopping 10.3 million people), whereas big companies were employing 2.4 million people (15.1% of the active labour force.)
Small businesses’ role in the economic recovery post-pandemic and beyond doesn’t go unnoticed by private and public institutions, which is why there are many grants and loans that can help small business owners, and entrepreneurs give life to their ideas.
We’ve selected a list of the main 13 grants and loans you can apply to start your small business or grow your existing business.
13 Grants and Loans to Supercharge Your Small Business
1 – Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP)
The CSBFP is a government program that allows small businesses to get financing under favourable conditions by sharing the risk with lenders. Under the CSBFP, small businesses can get a loan of up to $1.15 million that can be used to buy new equipment, land, do renovations or improvements, or buy a franchise, for example.
To apply for this financing program, your business has to have gross revenue of $10 million or less. All types of companies are eligible, except businesses in the farming industry. To apply, go to the nearest lender participating in the CSBFP and discuss the details of your business with the financial officer.
2 – Futurpreneur Canada Start-Up Program
If you’re 18 to 39, you should look at this program. The Futurpreneur Canada Start-Up Program offers collateral-free loans of up to $20,000 repayable in five years, and for those entrepreneurs who need more money to start their businesses, they have a partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to give loans up to $60,000 total.
Another interesting aspect of this program is that they offer a two-year business mentoring with industry experts to give you the skills needed to succeed as a new business owner.
Besides the age requirement, these are some of the criteria to be eligible:
- Your business has been operating for less than 12 months;
- Demonstrate that the company is not in the research and development stage;
- Complete a viable business and cash flow plan by the end of the application (they assist with this.)
- Agree to complete the mentorship and provide monthly updates on how your business is doing.
For more details, visit the dedicated website.
3 – BDC Small Business Loan
This is a flexible, 100% online loan application that can be used to purchase equipment, digital marketing and e-commerce efforts, and cover other expenses like leases, suppliers and employees. The good part about this loan is that you can start paying six months after getting the money over five years.
For eligibility, you need to:
- Have a business with at least 24 months in operation;
- Good credit history;
- Be considered an adult in the province you are based.
You can apply and get more details here.
4 – BDC Newcomer Entrepreneur Program
If you’re a new Canadian with little to no credit history and want to grow your business, you still have options. The BDC Newcomer Entrepreneur Program offers loans between $25,000 and $50,000 to help you grow your company if you immigrated to Canada less than three years ago.
Other eligibility criteria are:
- Your business has been in operation for at least 12 months and generated revenue;
- Are a permanent resident or have protected person status;
- Have a viable business growth plan.
For more information, go to the dedicated website. (The content is available in several languages too!)
5 – Alberta Innovates – Micro Voucher and Voucher Programs
Is your small business based in Alberta, is technology or knowledge-based and need money to take it to the next level? One of these voucher programs might be for you. These programs offer grants of up to $10,000 for the micro voucher and up to $100,000 for the voucher program to small and medium-sized businesses, alongside coaching to accelerate the company’s scale and growth.
Your business is a good fit for the Micro Voucher Program if:
- Has an innovative technology with potential intellectual property opportunities;
- The innovation you work with is technically feasible and has a potential market;
- You understand the regulatory requirements to enter the market and have a prior competitive analysis;
- You’ve contacted a Technology Development Advisor (TDA) for coaching;
Additionally, you can apply for the Voucher Program if:
- Your business focuses on leading-edge engineering and prototype development;
- You have ongoing research, patent development projects, and/or advanced market assessments.
Just a heads up: applicants for both programs must pay 25% as a cash contribution for the total eligible grant.
For the complete list of requirements, visit the program website.
6 – FACE Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund
This loan program for black entrepreneurs and business owners offers a $250,000 maximum for existing businesses (Macro Loan Program) and up to $50,000 for start-ups (Micro Loan Program) to help grow and scale their companies.
You can apply for any of these programs if:
- Have a thorough business plan;
- 2 to 3 years of financial projections;
- Personal statement of affairs;
- Up-to-date T1 and T2 income tax returns (with assessments notice.)
For more information about the application and requirements, visit the FACE website.
7 – Farm Credit Canada’s Young Entrepreneur Loan
If you’re under 40 and have a business plan, or want to expand your existing business within the food or agriculture sector, the Farm Credit Canada (FCC) Young Entrepreneur Loan can grant applicants up to $1,500,000 low-interest loan to help them build their dream business by buying agriculture or food-related equipment.
Contact your nearest FCC office to learn more about the requirements and how to apply.
8 – AWE Growth Loan for Women in Alberta
Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is a non-profit organization that has offered financing and other tools to help Albertan women to grow and expand their businesses since 1995. One of the leading financing options AWE offers is its Growth Loan, providing up to $150,000 for women-owned small businesses or market-ready start-ups led by women.
Your business is eligible for this loan if:
- It’s 50.1% women-owned and led;
- It’s located and registered in Alberta;
- You have a credit score of at least 650;
- You can contribute a minimum of 30% security on the loan (this percentage varies according to the purpose of the loan and the size and risk of the business); and,
- You can contribute/ have contributed a minimum of 25% owner equity on the total project costs.
You can use this loan for marketing and advertising, cash flow capital, equipment and inventory purchases, leasehold improvements and upgrades.
To start an application, AWE offers a starter quiz to let you know if you’re ready for financing. You can take it here.
9 – Alberta Digital Traction Program
If your business is based in Alberta, focuses on software development, and you’re working on a groundbreaking product, this funding program for small to medium-sized companies can grant you up to $50,000 to help you to complete your project.
Businesses are eligible to apply if:
- They’re incorporated in Alberta, have up to 50 employees, and have less than $1,000,000 in annual revenue;
- Their project is at the validation stage; that is, you already have a minimum viable product to test its performance and final customer satisfaction;
- Your technology can be scalable within 1 to 2 years;
- A roadmap to demonstrate how customer acquisition would be executed over a 3-year period.
Additionally, applicants must be able to pay at least 25% of the total costs of their project.
You can find the full eligibility criteria here and start your application on the program’s website.
10 – Futurpreneur Canada Indigenous Program
Recognizing the challenges indigenous Canadians have when it comes to accessing borrowing at low interests, this program aims to support indigenous entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39 with up to $20,000 collateral-free, 5-year payable loan (if applicants need a higher amount Futurpreneur has a partnership with the BDC, which allows the program to offer an additional $40,000.)
The program includes a 2-year mentorship and other educational resources to help applicants start their businesses on the right foot.
To start your application, you need to register on the Futurpreneur website as a new entrepreneur and follow their instructions to fill out the application and upload your documents.
11 – BDC Financing for Growing Start-ups
Canadian start-ups at their early stages can get the extra financial push they need to establish their presence on their market with the help of this flexible loan, which offers up to $250,000 collateral-free loan that beneficiaries can start paying up to 12 months after getting the money.
Start-ups can purchase with this loan:
- Equipment and assets;
- Start-up fees;
- A franchise;
- Build your business website and invest in marketing efforts;
- Replenish your cash flow.
You’re eligible if:
- Your business has been operating and generating revenue for at least 12 consecutive months;
- You have good credit history;
- Have a solid market and sales potential projection.
If you want more details or to start your application, click here.
12 – Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund
Aiming to help reduce the barrier to access funding that persists for female entrepreneurs that want to start or grow their businesses, the Government of Canada created the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund in partnership with a group of organizations that offers the loans.
As of May 2023, these are the organizations that are open to applications under this fund:
- Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC): offers up to $50,000 in loans, repayable in a 5-year term, along with a business advice and resources program to support the applicants during the development and growth of their businesses.
- Indigenous Women’s Entrepreneur Program (IWE): part of the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) initiatives to help Indigenous Canadians access capital for their businesses, this program offers up to $50,000 to female indigenous entrepreneurs.
- DELIA microloans project: run by the Northumberland Business Development Assistance Corp (NCFDC), this fintech-based microloan program offers up to $15,000 loans to female entrepreneurs, mentorship, and mentorship training opportunities to selected applicants.
- Evol: this Quebec-based organization offers to fund not only women but also entrepreneurs of any minority or under-represented community that struggles to get capital for their businesses, such as new Canadians, LGBTQ2+ community, indigenous Canadians, and people with disabilities.
Evol offers grants of $20,000 to $75,000 to start-ups and up to $450,000 for established businesses for growth, acquisition, and succession. The loans are available for companies located in the 17 regions of Quebec.
Coralus (formerly known as ShEO) also offers loans under this fund program. However, their applications for Canadian entrepreneurs are closed by the time of writing this article.
13 – CanExport
If you’re ready to take your e-commerce business to international markets, this grant can cover up to $50,000 (or 50% of the total costs) to help you promote your business in countries where your presence it’s new.
With this grant, you can cover many of the formalities required to operate in foreign markets, such as:
- Intellectual property protection in your target countries;
- Market research;
- SEO optimization;
- Adapting, translating or creating marketing materials for your target audience;
- Expert legal and business advice.
They can also fund travel-related activities like networking events and trade missions.
Small and medium-sized businesses are eligible if:
- Have fewer than 500 full-time employees;
- Are incorporated, a limited liability partnership, or a cooperative;
- Have a CRA business number;
- Have declared between $100,000 to $100,000,000 in revenue in Canada in its last fiscal year.
For more details on the eligibility criteria and to apply, click here.
Options for Any Canadian Entrepreneur
We hope this overview of grants and loans Canadian small businesses can access helps you assess your opportunity to fund your projects. If you think your business isn’t eligible for any of the programs we presented, many other programs are still available. The Canadian government offers a handy tool you can use to give specific details about your business and goals to find the perfect program for you.