Starting Your Small Business: Ontario Grants, Financing and Funding

Starting a small business requires a significant financial investment —  and for most people, it’s not one they can afford on their own. This is why grants and financing are so crucial to the start up process. 

The good news is that there are a multitude of grants to start a small business in Ontario, as well as opportunities for financing.

Different Types of Small Business Funding

There are a variety of ways to fund your small business. If you don’t get your dream grant or funding application on the first try, don’t worry! The process can be a tough one, but if you do your research and consider different kinds of funding, there will be a funding opportunity that fits your needs. 

In Ontario, there are generally three different types of funding that are available to small businesses:

  • Grants - Sums of money that you can apply for based on your business type and needs, which don’t need to be repaid.
  • Financing - Loans and investments from banks or credit unions which are repaid over time as your business develops.
  • Targeted Funding - Local, federal, or corporate funding sources (including grants) available to specific groups of people (e.g., women business owners, youth).

Grants to Start a Small Business in Ontario 

IRAP Research Project Funding Contributions - Funding for projects associated with research and design in technology industries in Canada according to the following guidelines (taken from the Government of Canada), for small businesses of under 500 employees:

  • collaborative research and development and prototype development intended to support research, development, adoption and/or adaptation of innovative or technology-driven new or improved products, services or processes in Canada
  • acquisition and commissioning of equipment necessary to conduct collaborative R&D projects; major equipment purchases are eligible for contribution funding support
  • projects involving recapitalization and strengthening of research facilities as platforms for collaboration are eligible for contribution funding support

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: Place to Grow Funding - This business funding is helpful supplemental funding for entrepreneurs whose business goals include work in agricultural development and food supply chain work. The Place to Grow: Strategic Solutions program is currently on a Covid-19 hiatus, but their “Funding for Sectors” stream is still running. Categories for funding include:

  • food safety and traceability
  • animal health
  • plant health
  • soil and water quality
  • economic development

Small Business Centre - Funding for small businesses of any kind in Ontario, through the Government of Ontario. 

  • Starter Company Plus - Businesses that are starting out or expanding are eligible to apply for this grant. The business must be registered in the areas of Hastings County, Prince Edward County, Lennox & Addington County, Quinte West or Belleville. 
  • Summer Company - Learning how to run your own student business is one of the best summer jobs you can have. You get to be your own boss while learning what it takes to manage a business (ages 15-29, returning to school).

Financing Opportunities for Ontario Small Businesses

Trenval - At Trenval, we offer flexible financing options for all your business needs. Businesses can apply here for financing up to $300,000 for start-up, relocation, maintenance or expansion of businesses located in the Trenval service area (Belleville, Quinte West, Tyendinaga, Stirling-Rawdon, or Deseronto municipalities). 

Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Incentive Program - From the Government of Canada: “The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Program uses tax incentives to encourage Canadian businesses of all sizes and in all sectors to conduct research and development (R&D) in Canada. These tax incentives come in three forms: an income tax deduction, an investment tax credit (ITC) and, in certain circumstances, a refund.” 

Aboriginal Business and Entrepreneurship Development - The ABED program can help with a variety of business activities for Indigenous entrepreneurs, including:

  • business planning
  • establishment (capital) costs
  • business acquisitions, business expansions
  • marketing initiatives that are local, domestic, or export oriented
  • new product or process development
  • adding technology to improve operations and competitiveness
  • operating costs in association with capital costs
  • financial services
  • business support
  • business-related training
  • mentoring services

AgriInnovate Program - The AgriInnovate program aims to accelerate the commercialization, adoption and/or demonstration of innovative products, technologies, processes or services that increase sector competitiveness and sustainability. 

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) - BDC offers a variety of programs and services to help start and grow your business, including: 

  • Financing - Business loans for projects and working capital to protect cash flow. 
  • Advisory Services - Practical solutions and objective advice to help growing businesses successfully address a wide range of challenges and opportunities. 
  • Wholesale Financing - Indirect and syndicated financing solutions provided through or alongside financial institutions and other private sector lenders. 
  • Cleantech Practice - Equity and commercial loans for high potential cleantech firms. 
  • Venture Capital - Money for innovators looking to transform their business ideas into successful companies. 
  • Growth & Transition Capital - Money for established or high-growth companies looking to finance a new project or business transition. 
  • Growth Equity - Minority equity investments for mid-market growth companies looking to grow exponentially. 

Canada Small Business Financing Program - Financing through a bank or credit union who participates in the CSBFP. Financing generally for purchase or improvement to land, buildings, new or used equipment, purchase of new or existing leasehold improvements. 

CanExport - Apply for financial support and gain access to personalized advice from experienced trade commissioners that will help you identify potential markets, partnerships and opportunities to achieve your international business needs. 

Community Futures - Provides financing up to $250,000 for new or existing businesses in Prince Edward County and Lennox and Addington Counties and those relocating to the area.  

Rise Asset Development - Rise is the only national charity that provides people with a history of mental health or addictions a path toward sustained self-employment through training, resources, mentorship and low interest microloans. 

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) - RBC offers a variety of options for small business owners, including short-term, long-term and operating loans.

Strategic Innovation Fund - The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) aims to attract and support high-quality business investments in Canada's most dynamic and innovative sectors.

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Targeted Financing Sources 

For Youth Entrepreneurs (18-39) 

Farm Credit Canada - For young entrepreneurs working in agriculture, agribusiness, food  and logistics. 

Futurpreneur Canada - Futurpreneur Canada supports young entrepreneurs with up to $60,000 in financing, an expert business mentor for up to two years and resources to help you plan, manage and grow your business. They also have specific streams for Black and Indigenous entrepreneurs. 

For Women Entrepreneurs

PARO - PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise is one of Canada's most successful business support and networking organizations. As a not-for-profit social enterprise, they collaborate to empower women, strengthen small businesses and promote community economic development across Ontario.

Women Entrepreneurship Fund - Women Entrepreneurship Fund is helping hundreds of women-led businesses across Canada receiving up to $100,000 in federal funding to help them grow and reach new markets. The WEF also provides mentorship and guidance to women entrepreneurs. 

 Finding the Right Funding Source

Within the list above, there are a multitude of options for entrepreneurs. It can be overwhelming to start from scratch and look at everything at once. Trenval offers free consultation and planning services for business owners and entrepreneurs—we can help you get a head start on your business funding. Click here to book an appointment with one of our experienced business councillors. 

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