If you’re a disabled entrepreneur, there are some fantastic disability business grants that can help you start or grow your business.
While there may not be large number of programs available, there’s a good mix of programs, from grants for disabled entrepreneurs to tax deductions for creating accessibility.
Plus, you can take advantage of these programs on top of the financial incentive programs for all entrepreneurs that we cover in other articles on this site.
What is a Disability Business Grant?
The Government of Canada defines a grant as:
a transfer payment subject to pre-established eligibility and other entitlement criteria. A grant is not subject to being accounted for by a recipient nor normally subject to audit by the department. The recipient may be required to report on results achieved.
So, a disability business grant is:
What Can Disability Business Grants Be Used For?
Disability business grants can be used to pay for many aspects of starting or running a business. Here are some of the uses that are covered by programs in our grants database:
And that’s just a sample! See the section below with a complete list of disability grants available.
How Much Grant Money Can I Get for My Disability Business?
In our database we currently have grants ranging from $300 to $100,000.
Am I Eligible for a Disability Business Grant? Common Eligibility Criteria
Two of the most common questions we get asked at Ontario Business Grants are “Am I eligible?” and “How do I qualify?”
We analyzed the disability business grants in our grants database, and these are the most common qualifications we identified:
Note: these are just the most common eligibility criteria – there are many grants with different requirements.
Disability Business Grants for Ontario: Current Grants Available
In the table below we list the grants currently available to Ontario entrepreneurs with disabilities.
To learn more about each program, just click the program name and you’ll be taken to a web page that provides detailed information on the program, including eligibility, the dollar amount of the program, and how to apply for the grant:
Ontario Disability Businesses Grants
How to Apply for Disability Business Grants: Follow These 6 Steps
The application process for grants can be complex, but you can increase your chances of getting your application approved by following a formula with a proven rate of success. Here are the steps to get the funds you need for your business:
- Gather a comprehensive list of all current grants. In Canada, hundreds of business grants are available for different industries, demographic groups, and purposes. Learn what is out there and cast a wide net when you apply to maximise your chances of securing funds.
- Focus on grants related to your industry. Review the application requirements to find out whether your business is eligible. When your business goals fit a particular type of grant, you have better chances of getting matched to it. You want to devote your time and energy to grants where you have the highest potential of winning.
- Reach out to the grant agencies directly. If you want to gain more understanding on what qualities the agencies are looking for in their grant applicants, there is no better way than to go right to the source. If possible, ask the agency questions and look for areas where you can stand out from the rest.
- Plan for your grant application. This plan should include a one-page draft of your grant application statement.
- Organise your documents. Grant organisations often ask their applicants to provide a business plan and other pertinent documents. If you organise your documents in advance, you’ll be ready to submit them when the grant agency requests them.
- Submit a well-thought-out application. If you follow the five steps above, your application will have a good chance of getting approved.
- Don’t miss other types of funding. Grants represent just one type of funding, but there are many other types of funding suitable for Indigenous business owners. These include low-interest loans, wage subsidies, tax incentives, competitions, incubators and accelerators, and many more.
Other Types of Funding for Disabled Entrepreneurs
Our goal is for this guide to be a complete source of funding information for disabled entrepreneurs. So, in this section you’ll find all the other money programs (besides grants) that are available to disabled entrepreneurs:
A loan might not sound as good as a grant, but many loans for disabled entrepreneurs have a low interest rate. While they might not be free money, if you don’t qualify for a grant, a low-interest loan is probably the next best thing.
The programs below include non-profit loans:
Loans for Disabled Entrepreneurs
|Name of Program||Amount||Type|
|RISE Asset Development Small Business Lending Program (2022)||$10000||Loan|
A subsidy is a type of financial assistance provided by the government to promote an economic policy (such as high employment). Wage subsidies are the most common subsidies.
In the table below you’ll find some of the subsidies currently available:
Subsidies for Disabled Businesses
|Name of Program||Amount||Type|
|BioTalent Canada Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) (2022)||$7000||Subsidy|
|Magnet (Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network) – Magnet Student Work Placement Program (SWPP)||$7000||Subsidy|
An investment is a form of financing where capital is provided in exchange of ownership in the company. It is an alternative to conventional methods of raising capital (loans, issuing stocks, selling bonds) and the good thing about it is that you do not have to make monthly payments. Common investments include private equity and venture capital.
Here are the investment programs currently available for disabled Entrepreneurs:
Investments for Disabled Entrepreneurs
|Name of Program||Amount||Type|
|Communitech – Fierce Founders Uplift||$10000.00||In-Kind Support, Investment|
|Export Development Canada (EDC) – EDC Inclusive Trade Investments Program (ITIP)||No Fixed Amount||Investment|
Best Disability Business Grants, Loans & More
While there are lots of good programs available, below we highlight some of the best grants, loans, tax credits & more for Disabled Entrepreneurs:
Best Government Grants for Disabled Entrepreneurs
Canada Council for the Arts – Application Assistance funding
While not a program per se and applicable to all their funding programs, the Canada Council for the Arts provides Application Assistance funding for persons who are experiencing difficulty and self-identify as:
FACTOR – Recipient Accessibility Support Fund
FACTOR grant recipients are eligible for top-up support to their project funding of up to $5,000 each fiscal year, not to exceed $5,000 per project for costs related to accessibility. Eligible costs claimed under this fund will be reimbursed at 100%. Details in the Comments to Amount of every Factor program.
Best Non-profit Grants for Disabled Entrepreneurs
Canada Media Fund (CMF) – Sector Development: Accessibility Support
The Accessibility Support offers financial assistance to individuals who identify as Persons with disabilities in overcoming possible barriers during the application process to CMF’s funding Programs. Eligible Applicants may apply to Accessibility Support to cover costs for specific activities, such as completing a Persona-ID account, opening a Dialogue account to apply for funding, reading and understanding the CMF program guidelines and requirements, communicating with a CMF Program administrator analyst, completing and submitting an online application or applying for Sector Development Support.
Rise Asset Development – Peer Supported Training
Through this program, you’ll learn the skills you’ll need to run your business successfully in small groups of 2 to 6 people.
You’ll still get training and coaching, and by the end, you’ll have a good, solid business plan, which will be invaluable as you continue to operate your business. You can even access their small business financing once you’ve finished the program. Plus, as with the other programs, you’ll get to choose between keeping your borrowed laptop and a $300 grant when you graduate.
ventureLAB – Entrepreneurship Fund: Underrepresented Founders
ventureLAB is committed to contributing to levelling the playing field for underrepresented founders by opening more doors to capital. This year, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund is awarding $10,000 of funding to 7 eligible companies comprised of underrepresented founders.
Best Investment for Disabled Entrepreneurs
Communitech – Fierce Founders Uplift
Fierce Founders Uplift helps participants accelerate their path from startup to world leader. Participating companies receive $10,000 in non-matching funds and one-on-one advice from Communitech growth coaches.
Best Non-profit Loan for Disabled Entrepreneurs
Rise Asset Development – Small Business Lending Program
This one is a great loan program to help you get your new business off the ground or take it to the next level. You can also use it to finance showing off your product or service at an event such as a trade show or festival.
You could borrow as much as $10,000 at a low interest rate of prime + 2.5% with this one and get, on average, 3 years to pay it back. You’ll even get 30 days before your first payment is due. Mentorship and resources are also part of the package once you’re accepted.
Best In-kind Support Programs for Disabled Entrepreneurs
Below you will find some non-profit programs providing in-kind support and sometimes also funding to disabled entrepreneurs.
Venturepark Labs – Accelerator
Since 2015, Venturepark Labs has delivered Canada’s top accelerator program for consumer products. Over four months, Venturepark Labs’ experts help their alumni scale. Entrepreneurs gain insights from industry leaders and access to Canada’s business growth ecosystem, Venturepark. The Park provides connections to investment capital and skilled brand builders.
Rise Asset Development – Youth Small Business Program
Are you serious about starting a business or expanding one? Are you between 16 and 29? If you said yes to both of these and you meet the rest of the criteria listed earlier, such as self-identifying with a mental illness or addiction challenge, then try this program.
As long as you’re a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and located in Ontario, this program will give you access to free workshops and free coaching over the course of the 3-month program. You’ll attend, on average, 2 workshops a week with the end goal of creating a solid business plan and sharp, effective pitch.
Rise Asset Development – EnterpRISEing Youth Plus
If perhaps you aren’t quite ready to go full speed ahead with lots of in-person workshops and building a business plan and such, give this program a shot. It’ll still give you access to their small business financing but without the same dedicated time commitment.
This program offers a combination of online learning modules with just 4 in-person workshops rather than 3 months worth of in-class learning. You’ll still get mentoring and coaching and access to networking so you can learn valuable business skills.
Other In-kind Support
Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services Ontario Disability Support Program Employment Supports
Disabled entrepreneurs lucky enough to live in Ontario have access to a unique, multilayered funding program.
This program offers financial help to help you start a business and covers such things as equipment, business tools, supplies, licences, and certifications. The amount you’ll get is determined on a case-by-case basis, so you’ll only know how much financial assistance you can get once you discuss your plans with your local Ontario Disability Support Program office.
But that’s just the beginning. While funds are integral to starting any business, so is coaching, training, mentoring, networking, and professional advice. This program can offer all that, so take advantage of it to give yourself the best possible odds of success.
The Bottom Line
You might be thinking the number of funding programs available to help disabled entrepreneurs is a little scant, but that’s really not the case. Not only can you take advantage of one or more of the programs listed here, but you can add that funding to any other, more general, entrepreneur financial incentive programs at any level.
And if you’re really creative, perhaps you can even add more funding programs if you’re a woman, you’re young, you operate for or within the Francophone community, or you operate in a specific field such as clean tech or exporting.
So keep pushing on your quest to successfully start, run, or grow your business and gather together as much funding from different sources as you can. You never know how much you can amass!