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Government grants for new businesses


James asked:

My question is where can i find FREE information about getting Canadian governement grants to start a business? I am looking to start a new business in the for of a martini style bar, but am lacking capital. Are there places i can get money to start a business? and where can i atleast find infomation without paying 500$ for a book that may or may not help me.


You have asked an excellent question. It is a great frustration to me that there is nothing close to a free single source of information on government grant and loan programs.

Since we started CanadaOne we have tried to keep track of grant programs - we have found it to be a difficult if not impossible process. For example, we once asked Human Resource and Skills Development Canada for a list of all the hiring programs they were going to offer that summer and we were told, essentially, that they could not generate one comprehensive list. If HRSDC has difficulty keeping track of their own programs, you can imagine how hard it is for a private firm to keep track not only of their programs, but all the different programs that are offered!

Point #1: Most small business resources centres purchase a copy of a grant and loan book like the one your email referenced. Instead of purchasing one I would recommend that you drop into a centre and look at their copy.

Point #2: Grant and loan programs are usually developed to help a particular sector or segment of the population. For example, some programs are in place to help new graduates find jobs in high tech fields. Other programs are designed to help strengthen certain sectors, for example grants to help new media companies market content produced in Canada. Another example is an export development program designed to help off-set the costs of marketing products and services outside of Canada. There are also programs designed to help people in receipt of Employment Insurance benefits (EI) start a company that includes training and financial support. The EI programs sometimes have a "reach-back" period that will help some people qualify even if they are not currently in receipt of EI.

This is important because it shows us the best way to start a search for programs. Once you identify the sector and type of programs that apply to your start-up you can begin researching grants and loans that are available on the related government websites.

I should note that as a martini bar business you may want to look into the Small Business Loan program, which is designed to help people who have been turned down by a bank get a loan to purchase assets that will help them run their business.

I would also recommend that you visit your local small business resource centre. Staff at these centres are usually well informed about any grant or loan programs in the local area as well as provincial and federal programs. Hopefully while you are there you will also be able to look through the book of programs that usually costs $500 - free of charge.

Good luck!

Julie King

About the author

Julie King is the co-founder and managing editor of CanadaOne, Canada's first small business portal.

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