Starting a business? Or perhaps you’ve already started your business but aren’t quite sure how to go about funding. How to secure the capital with which to fund or grow your company can be a daunting task, so we’re here to help clear up any confusion you may have.
For the Okanagan entrepreneur, there are a myriad of investment support programs that may be available to help tech companies start and grow. The programs and resources are constantly changing, but there are a few key resources that you should know about.
We’ve compiled a list of well over 50 resources that could help you get funding, and you can find it here. But to save you some time (a precious resource in itself), we’re highlighting some of the most widely used funding programs in this article to give you a head start. There are even a few fund-matching services available, which can help alleviate much of the confusion for you. A quick overview of those services can be found in our next blog on the topic.
The most popular non-repayable resource is the National Resrouce Council’s IRAP program. IRAP, the National Research Assistance Program, provides financial support to qualified Canadian small and medium sized businesses to help them with innovative technology.
In order to qualify for IRAP, your company must be a for-profit incorporated Canadian business. Additionally, your company must be established to grow and generate profits through development and commercialization of innovative, technology-driven new or improved products, services, or processes in Canada.
IRAP Projects help support technical people building prototypes and solving problems, and can range between $10,000 – $1,000,000. IRAP projects pay up to 65% of overhead, up to 80% of the salary for employees on the project, and up to 50% of consultants who are putting effort on the project.
IRAP also offers advisory services, market intelligence, and patent searches.
Another important resource for businesses in the Southern Interior is the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust (SIDIT). SIDIT supports regionally strategic investments in economic development projects that will have long-lasting and measurable regional benefits for the Southern Interior.
While SIDIT’s funding it not in form of a grant, it was created to support eligible projects in the form of a loan or equity investment. SIDIT projects are subject to principal and interest repayment, security terms and conditions as it deems applicable. To apply, you must include a business plan, financial statements, shareholders structure, and estimated financials.
For municipalities, regional districts, First Nations, registered non-profit societies, institutions, and industry associations, SIDIT does offer a grant program to support regionally strategic investments in economic development projects that will have long-lasting and measurable regional benefits for the Southern Interior.
3. Futurpreneur, Community Futures Business Corporation and Women’s Enterprise Centre
For general business loans, we’re shining the spotlight on three popular programs: Futurpreneur and Community Futures.
If you’re an entrepreneur age 18-39, Futurpreneur may be the right program for you. They offer Pre-Launch Coaching, Start-Up Financing, Mentoring, and Business Resources. Working with local community lenders, their loans are unsecured, carry low interest financing, and offer up to $15,000 in start-up financing. You could even receive up to twice your approved amount through their partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).
Instead of collateral, Futurpreneur focuses on your character when assessing eligibility for financial support. Funding can be used for major purchases, business transition or acquisition, and working capital.
Entrepreneurs of any age who are having trouble securing a loan from traditional financial institutions will want to check out Community Futures Business Corporation, which provides entrepreneurs with small business loans up to $150,000. Their business loans, which are granted by a committee comprised of community volunteers, are available for new business start-ups, business expansion, or to stabilize an existing business. Community Futures also has a self-employment program which is funded by the Province of BC. It provides income support, business skills development workshops, one on one mentoring and counselling.
If you are a female entrepreneur who owns at least 51% of your business and you’re looking for a great rate on a loan, the Women’s Enterprise Centre’s Business Loans Program would be a good place to start! Women’s Enterprise Centre offers small business loans up to $150,000 to women-owned businesses in BC that can help you start, enhance or grow your BC business.
Learn more and meet the team at one of the information sessions they have every two weeks.
4. Fund-matching services
Do you end up spending time and money calling around for financing for your business? Wouldn’t it be easier to be matched with the best funding sources at the click of a mouse? Canadian entrepreneurs now have a way to find and filter opportunities on their own terms. Fundica is an online tool that matches entrepreneurs with smart, comprehensive and up-to-date funding – and it’s free.
Fundica has changed the way Canadian businesses find funding with their proprietary search tool and software that matches Canadian entrepreneurs with grants, tax credits, loans and equity. It filters by exact location, company size, sector and many other criteria, to make sure small business owners are getting the exact kind of funding partner they’re looking for. Fundica’s database covers over 90% of the government and institutional private sector direct funding programs/products available to Canadian businesses. Pretty cool, if you ask us.
Fundica was founded by a team of funding experts in 2010, after years of experience helping entrepreneurs find financing from public and private sources. The people behind Fundica are computer science, tax, finance and funding professionals who have collectively raised over $75 million of government and private funding, and have over 50 years combined experience in funding Canadian businesses. All this hard work means that they have strong working relationships with and an in-depth understanding of public and private funding sources.
Innovation Canada Digital Platform
There are hundreds of programs and services designed to help businesses create jobs, innovate, and grow which can include anything from funding to expert advice to building connections and more. Based on the needs of your company and the supports you’re looking for, the Innovation Canada Digital Platform can help connect your business to the best possible opportunities that align with their needs. This platform is helping to amalgamate the data and resources while also helping programs and services find the best possible clients so that they can maximize the impact that they are having.
By going to the website and answering a few questions about your business and the types of funding you are looking for, the platform will filter the services and funding to meet your needs.
One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is access and management of capital. The Access to Capital program is an initiative aimed at improving education, access, and community for the capital ecosystem in the Okanagan. This 12-week program that pairs growing companies with a skilled EIR who can help company leaders focus on education around the capital raising process, valuation, due diligence, and pitch prep.
In addition, there are a series of public education events on diverse topics around access to capital. This education is aimed at both entrepreneurs and investors. Our goal with this program is to provide a highly curated, private approach to matching investors and entrepreneurs.