Immigrant Business Grants: 9 Funding Programs for Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Canada

If you’re looking for a new immigrant business grant, you’re in the right place! Because this is the most comprehensive guide to funding for Canadian immigrant businesses on the web.

In this guide we cover not only grants for immigrants to Canada, but also loans, investment programs, in-kind support, and much more.

Let’s get into it…

What is an Immigrant 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, an immigrant business grant is:

  • A non-repayable transfer payment that is available to new immigrants to Canada;
  • Subject to specific eligibility criteria; and
  • May or may not need to be reported on.

What Can Immigrant Business Grants Be Used For?

Immigrant 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:

  • Starting an immigrant business
  • Expanding an immigrant business

And that’s just a sample! See the section below with a complete list of immigrant grants available.

How Much Grant Money Can I Get for My Immigrant Business?

In our database we currently have one grant for $10,000.

Am I Eligible for an Immigrant 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 Immigrants business grants in our grants database, and these are the most common qualifications we identified:

  • Be immigrant businesses
  • Be for-profit organizations
  • Be incorporated in Canada

Note: these are just the most common eligibility criteria – there are many grants with different requirements.

Immigrant Grants for Business: Current Grants Available

In the table below we list the grants currently available to immigrant entrepreneurs.

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:

Grants for Immigrant Businesses in Canada

Name of ProgramAmountType
ventureLAB - Entrepreneurship Fund: Underrepresented Foundersno fixed amountGrant

How to Apply for Immigrant Business Grants: Follow These 10 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Make a plan for your grant application. This plan should include a one-page draft of your grant application statement.
  1. 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.
  1. Submit a well-thought-out application. If you follow the five steps above, your application will have a good chance of getting approved.

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    1. Don’t miss other types of funding. Grants represent just one type of funding – there are many other types of funding. This is especially important for immigrant entrepreneurs because there are relatively few grants available for this group. Other types of funding include low-interest loans, wage subsidies, tax incentives, competitions, incubators and accelerators, and many more.

    Other Types of Funding for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

    Our goal is for this guide to be a complete source of funding information for Immigrant entrepreneurs. So, in this section you’ll find all the other money programs (besides grants) that are available to immigrant entrepreneurs:

    Loans for Immigrant Businesses

    • Government Loans for Immigrant Businesses

    A loan might not sound as good as a grant, but many loans for immigrant businesses 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 government loans:

    Government Loans for Immigrant Businesses

    • Commercial Loans for Immigrants Businesses

    If you’re an internationally trained dentist and not eligible for a government loan, you might consider one of CIBC’s funding opportunities:

    • Investment for Immigrant Businesses

    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 investment includes private equity and venture capital.

    Here is an investment program currently available for immigrant businesses:

    Investment for Immigrant Businesses

    Name of ProgramAmountType
    SWITCH - W Fundno fixed amountInvestment

    Best Immigrant Business Grants, Loans & More

    While there are lots of good programs available, below we highlight some of the best grants, loans, investment & more for immigrant entrepreneurs:

    Best Government Loan for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

    Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) – Newcomer Entrepreneur Loan

    BDC’s Newcomer Entrepreneur Loan helps Canadian immigrants that want to start a company or handle the typical challenges of building a company in Canada.

    Best Non-profit Grants for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

    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 Non-Profit Loans for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

    Access Community Capital Fund – Business Loans

    The Business Loans provide affordable loans plus free business coaching services.

    Futurpreneur Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) – Futurpreneur Canada Newcomer Program

    The Futurpreneur Newcomer Program aims to help entrepreneurs who recently arrived in Canada and don’t have a credit history necessary to secure financing.

    Best Investment for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

    SWITCH – W Fund

    The W Fund is structured to make the biggest impact possible on as many levels as possible, including:

    • directly investing in outstanding companies with strong potential for venture returns and led by innovative and obsessed leaders from underrepresented background;
    • normalizing portfolio company diversity and inclusion of employees, workplace, board, advisors and investors;
    • establishing VC-in-Residence, carry-holding investment positions to open a path to VC for exceptional people who would otherwise not have that access;
    • diversifying their Limited Partners, providing them with investing, operating and leadership skills-building programming, and equipping them to be inclusive in activities outside our fund.

    Best Accelerator for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

    Access Community Capital Fund – Women’s Business Accelerator (WBA)

    The Women’s Business Accelerator (WBA) is a free, online workshop series that will equip you with the tools you need to build a profitable business.

    The Bottom Line

    There are a handful of great programs to start a business in Canada if you’re a new immigrant looking for funding.

    But remember: grants for immigrants is just one of the many angles that you should be investigating in your search for business funding.

    You should be looking for grants, loans, wage subsidies and the many other types of financing that are available for different demographic groups, industries, and purposes of funding. Happy money-hunting!

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