Funding your start up or business as a newcomer in Canada
Canada provides various options for entrepreneurs looking to immigrate to start a business. Once in Canada, immigrant entrepreneurs may be looking for funding to get their business started or to support their growth. Funding options available to immigrants will vary depending on the specific needs of a particular business.
Types of funding
Start-up or business financing options include:
- Personal savings
- Friends and family
- Bank loans
- Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter
- Venture capital & angel investors
- Government programs
Many entrepreneurs will use their own savings to fund their business. The advantage to using your own money is that you have complete control over your expenses/how you run your business and you are not indebted to anyone. Further, investing your own money into your business builds credibility and demonstrates your confidence in the business to potential investors.
A grant is a sum of money given to a business by governmental agencies or corporations for the purpose of covering expenses, such as research and development, marketing, salaries, equipment and more. Unlike many other types of funding, grants do not have to be paid back and business owners are not required to give up equity. However, grants can be highly competitive, and each program will have its own eligibility requirements.
Turning to friends and family for funding can be an appealing option to entrepreneurs, as it allows for freedom in determining the conditions of the investment and the repayment schedule. However, to avoid damaging a relationship over money, you should always make an effort to describe the risks involved in investing in your business to friends and family, and creating and signing a formal agreement that ultimately benefits both parties would be a worthwhile course of action.
Canadian banks offer business loans for the purpose of helping with the purchase of new assets, sell or acquisition of another business, to secure capital for day-to-day operations or for expansion. Banks have certain criteria that they consider when deciding if they should approve a loan. These criteria include the industry of the business, the risk involved, and the financial projections of the business. In securing a loan, it is important to consider the duration of the loan, the percentage being financed, repayment flexibility and the interest rate.
Crowdfunding is a form of fundraising where a business will ask the public for a contribution, usually in exchange for equity in the company. Successful crowdfunding typically occurs through a large number of people contributing small amounts into your business. There are various forms of crowdfunding, including:
- Donation/rewards-based crowdfunding: a company will set a fundraising target and ask for donations in exchange for some kind of token or receipt of the eventual product or service to be developed
- Equity crowdfunding: in exchange for their money, investors get shares in a company or the right to a portion of revenues or profits from a specific product
Angel investors and venture capitalists invest money in businesses in exchange for equity. Angel investors will usually fund early-stage businesses, while venture capitalists will invest when the company is already generating revenue and has a stable cash flow. One major benefit of these types of investors is that they will provide invaluable advice to you about your business, as their success depends on the success of your business.
Business incubators are another option for you to consider. Incubators tend to invite high-potential businesses to share their premises where they receive a variety of supports in areas such as advisory, networking, and administrative services. Once the business is more development, usually in a couple of years, they leave the incubator’s premise to pursue the next stage of growth.
Canadian government programs
The Canadian government provides funding for businesses, in particular business and technology innovation.
The Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP), for example, is a government-sponsored program that offers loans up to $1 million to either start or grow a company, or to help a more established business with a big investment.
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is a crown corporation and national development banked owned by the Government of Canada. They help small and medium sized businesses through financing loans, advisory services and capital. BDC supports entrepreneurs in all industries and at all stages of development and has so far committed $47.8 billion to business owners.
The federal government offers entrepreneur supports through the regional economic development agencies that it runs. For instance, FedDev Ontario is the federal economic development agency for Southern Ontario that has been provided over $1 billion in new funding, according the Canadian government website. Similarly, the Atlantic Innovation Fund supports businesses, co-ops and research institutions to help these organizations create and market new products/services and respond to market opportunities.
Most provinces also provide support to business and entrepreneurs. For example, Alberta provides grants and other funding to stimulate regional economic development. Some of the programs include the Community Initiative Program provides funding to support initiatives that enhance and enriches communities throughout Alberta, and the Innovation Employment Grant, which provides companies with grants for research and developing expenditures.
Similarly, British Columbia has many economic development funding grants for small businesses. This includes the Small Farm Business Acceleration Pilot Program, which helps small and new farm businesses in BC to make necessary investments.
There are many helpful resources and websites that entrepreneurs can access to conduct their own research on funding options.
The Canadian government has a helpful tool called “Business Benefits Finder” that allows you to identify available supports based on your circumstances. The tool provides a personalized list of government financing programs for your business, public funds to help start your business venture and programs for start-up loans and capital investments. You can access the tool by clicking here.
The Business Development Bank of Canada website has a page dedicated to helpful tools and articles that provide advice and information to entrepreneurs when starting a business and looking for funding, but also for business strategy, planning, entrepreneurial skills, marketing, sales, and more.
The National Angel Capital Organization is a non-governmental membership association that lists angel investors, venture capitalists and incubators across Canada.