Small Business Grants in Canada

Feb 26, 2021
4 minute read

There are a plethora of small business grants in Canada. Usually they are specific, but some can be broader, meaning there will be more applicants and competition will be stiff. 

But even getting to the application process can be challenging. Finding Canadian business grants that your business is eligible for can feel like digging in a haystack. The last thing you want to do is spend hours or days on the internet researching. A lot of grants that small businesses may be eligible for don’t specifically list small businesses, which can be confusing. 

No matter what stage your business is in, whether it is a newer startup or a well-established business and you’re looking to expand, there is most likely a small business grant for you. 

4 steps to apply for small business grants in Canada

1. Build your business plan

Even if you’re not applying for a grant, creating a business plan is always a good idea. You’ll need one for any type of funding you’re looking for. A business plan will help set you up for success, no matter what stage your business is at. It gives you a clear overview of your business, including structure, milestones, market research, and financial health and projections. 

Should you not be eligible yet for a business grant, or if your application is unsuccessful, a business plan will help set your business in a position to be a good candidate in the future. You can also use it to help you build credit, which will look good on any grant application down the road. 

2. Know what you’re looking for

Not all small businesses are eligible for grants, so spending time preparing a grant application that won’t be successful is time wasted.  

While there are always exceptions, small business grants in Canada tend to be specific to certain demographics and/or tailored to a very specific need or market. Some regions in Canada offer specialized incentive grants, such as the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. 

In Canada, there tend to be umbrella grant categories that include environmental technology, biotechnology, agricultural business, and some arts-based businesses. Retail businesses and franchises tend to not be eligible. 

Availability of business grants also tends to fluctuate with economic and changing market needs. Keeping up to date with these factors will service you well, not just when you apply for grants, but also in the management of your own business. 

3. Search within your industry

Identifying your industry and what grants are available will help you narrow your eligibility. There are many grants available that are industry specific. But figuring out what classification your industry falls under can be challenging. The Government of Canada has prepared this guide to help you with that. 

Becoming familiar with the North American Industry Classification system (NAICS) can streamline your search when researching government assistance.

4. Write a stellar grant application

A grant application, or proposal, isn’t a single-day endeavour. Start early. A lot of grant programs open up for applications months before the deadline. Take advantage of that time. 

Here’s where your business plan is going to come in handy. Many grant applications are similar to business plans. They detail the structure of your business, including financials, marketing strategies and research, branding, and more. 

Successful grant applicants learn from the successes and failures of their competition. Looking at other grant applications, if possible, and investigating templates can help you visualize your own grant application. And always get another set of eyes on your application. 

Grant opportunities available in Canada

Canadian grants for research and development

Businesses undergo a lot of research and development, no matter the industry. Many entrepreneurs who are investing in new technologies, research and development require capital to create or continue to explore new products and services. Here is a list of business grants for research and development available in Canada:

Canadian grants for business expansion

Expanding a business can be financially taxing, no matter the type of expansion. Maybe you’re looking for more physical space or supplies. Maybe you’re looking to cast a wider market network that requires rebranding. 

Whatever the expansion, there is small business funding in Canada for you to apply for.