Young Entrepreneur Grants: 26 Financial Incentives for Entrepreneurs 30 and Under

You’ve got a great idea, you’re excited and ready to work 12-hour days, and you’re looking for young entrepreneur grants to get things going. Now what?

Finding funding as a young person? It’s hard enough to simply buy or lease a car let alone start a business. But it’s definitely possible!

The financing programs listed here understand both the difficulty in finding funding when you’re young and the importance of young people and their innovative ideas for the Canadian economy.

While grant programs for starting a business are relatively rare, whether you’re young or not, there are still plenty of financing programs that could finance your new business—and with better terms—when traditional lenders won’t. In fact, try out these programs first!

What is a Young Entrepreneur 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 young entrepreneur business grant is:

  • A non-repayable transfer payment that is available to under-30 businesses;
  • Subject to specific eligibility criteria; and
  • May or may not need to be reported on.

What Can Young Entrepreneur Grants Be Used For?

Young entrepreneur 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 a youth-owned business
  • Expanding a youth-owned business
  • Skills development for youth entrepreneurs
  • Working capital for youth entrepreneur businesses

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

How Much Grant Money Can I Get for My Business?

In our database we currently have grants ranging from $300 to $50,000.

Am I Eligible for a Young Entrepreneur 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 Young Entrepreneur grants in our grants database, and these are the most common qualifications we identified:

  • Be aspiring youth entrepreneurs or changemakers
  • Be between the ages of 16 to 34 (sometimes the cut-off is age 30)
  • Have a practical idea to start or grow his own for-profit, small business
  • Be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada

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

Young Entrepreneur Grants for Ontario: Current Grants Available

In the table below we list the grants currently available to young entrepreneurs in Ontario (and some are available across the country).

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 Ontario Young Entrepreneurs

How to Apply for Young Entrepreneur Grants: Follow These 6 Steps

 While the application steps for young entrepreneurs grant programs vary, here are some common steps:


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    1. Gather all possible grants. We cover business funding programs for young entrepreneurs in this guide, but there are lots of additional programs available for different demographic groups (such as women entrepreneurs, Black entrepreneurs, and others), as well as programs for different funding purposes (such as hiring, training, R&D, exporting, energy efficiency improvements, and much more).
    1. Find grants that are a close fit with your business goals. Make sure to review the grant program guide to confirm that your business is eligible. When your business goals fit a particular type of grant, you have better chances of getting matched to it.
    1. Contact the grant agencies. There’s no better way to find out what the funder is looking for than going right to the source! If possible, contact the grant agency and ask them questions that will help your stand out from the pack.
    1. Get your plan in place. Your grant plan should include a one-page draft of your grant application.
    1. Gather your documents. Funders often ask their applicants to provide a business plan and related documents. If you organise your documents in advance, you’ll be ready to submit them when the grant agency requests them.
    1. Submit an excellent application. Make sure you follow all requirements of the grant program (which you can find in the grant program guide) to increase your chances of success.

    Bonus Tip:

    1. Consider other types of funding. Besides grants, there are dozens of different types of funding that young entrepreneurs can go after, from crowdfunding to business competitions, loans to incubators.

    Other Types of Funding for Young Entrepreneurs

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

    Loans for Young Entrepreneurs

    • Government Loans for Young Entrepreneurs

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

    Government Loans for Young Entrepreneurs

    • Lines of Credit for Young Entrepreneurs

    Though there are no loans especially for young entrepreneurs, below you’ll find a line of credit specifically for young entrepreneurs.

    A line of credit can be a handy way to finance ongoing operations if you have occasional shortfalls in cashflow, need to finance a small equipment purchase, among other uses.

    Have a look at Desjardins’s Créavenir Financing, a program providing young entrepreneurs with coaching, mentoring and financial aid in the form of lines of credit and grants.

    • Subsidies for Young Entrepreneurs

    A subsidy is a type of financial assistance usually provided by the government in order to promote a social good or an economic policy. Wage subsidies are the most common subsidies.

    In the table below you’ll find the subsidy currently available for young entrepreneurs:

     Subsidies for Young Entrepreneurs

    • Investments for Young Entrepreneurs

    An investment is a form of financing where capital is provided in exchange for ownership in the company.  It’s an alternative to other methods of raising capital (loans, issuing stocks, selling bonds) and the good thing about it is that you don’t have to make monthly payments (like with a loan). Common investments include private equity and venture capital.

    Here’s a sample of investment programs currently available for young entrepreneurs:

     Investment for Young Entrepreneurs

    Name of ProgramAmountType
    SWITCH - W Fundno fixed amountInvestment
    League of Innovators - Ready To Scale / Boost Programno fixed amountInvestment
    • In-kind Support Programs for Young Entrepreneurs

     In-kind support refers to non-cash resources provided to support businesses. In kind-support can take various forms: access to coaching, mentorship, investors, logistical and technical resources (space, equipment, computers, internet and software, free testbed), training programs, business advice and counseling. Entrepreneurship centres, accelerators and incubators provide valuable in-kind support to new and existing entrepreneurs.

    In-Kind Support for Young Entrepreneurs

    Accelerators for Young Entrepreneurs

    Name of ProgramAmountType

    Entrepreneurship Programs for Young Entrepreneurs

    • Competitions for Young Entrepreneurs

    Competition usually refers to pitch competition, a contest where entrepreneurs give a pitch (a short and compelling presentation of their business concept) to a panel in the hope of winning a cash prize or investment capital.

    Here are the competitions currently available for young entrepreneurs:

    Competitions for Young Entrepreneurs

    Best Young Entrepreneur Grants, Loans & More

    While there are lots of good programs available, below we highlight some of the best grants, loans, subsidies & more for Young Entrepreneurs:

    Best Young Entrepreneur Government Grants

    Canada Council for the Arts – Digital Greenhouse

    Digital Greenhouse is a digital innovation initiative for Canadian individuals, groups and organizations. It supports short-term projects that leverage digital technology to address sectoral and digital challenges, including:

    • the development of new digital tools and solutions that increase the resilience, sustainability, and discoverability of the arts sector,
    • the development of sector-wide and cross-sector collaborations, partnerships, and networks to support innovative digital business models, revenue models and monetization strategies,
    • sectoral approaches aimed at strategically increasing the digital/data literacy and ongoing digital transformation of the arts sector,
    • addressing challenges and exploring digital solutions related to accessibility, equity, diversity, decolonization, social justice, and climate responsibility created by, or relevant to, the digital world,
    • addressing challenges and exploring solutions related to the lack of access to digital infrastructure for remote regions and Northern and under-represented communities.
    Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade – Starter Company Plus

    Here’s your chance to get some free money from the provincial government to start your business. You’ll also get training and mentoring as part of the package.

    If you’re 18 or older, an Ontario resident and Canadian citizen, not in school full time, and can make a cash or in-kind contribution of 25% of the grant amount, you’re in! You’ll even get an e-business toolkit.

    Best Young Entrepreneur Government Loans

    Farm Credit Canada (FCC) – Young Entrepreneur Loan

    FCC provides financing to young entrepreneurs under 40 to start or expand their business. They can purchase shares in, buy, or improve an agricultural or food-related business, and take their dream business to the next level.

    Farm Credit Canada (FCC) – Young Farmers: Young Farmer Loan

    FCC provides loans to young producers under 40 to purchase farm or agriculture-related assets of up to $1,500,000.

    Best Young Entrepreneur Government Subsidy

    Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) – Housing Internship for Indigenous Youth (HIIY)

    While not directly for young entrepreneurs, this one can still benefit you as you get started in your career.

    When Indigenous SMEs and councils hire a youth between 15 and 30, they could get the new employee’s wages subsidized by CMHC.

    The organization that hires you, however, should be prepared to cover your travel and housing costs if they’re located far from the community plus all other costs associated with your job such as safety equipment.

    To qualify, the organization interested in hiring you and participating in this program must also have an office in or near an Indigenous community and have the time and staff resources to provide your on-the-job training.

    Best Young Entrepreneur Non-profit Grant

    Business in the Streets (BITS) – BITS Bucks

    Sorry folks, this program is only for you if you’re a youth entrepreneur in Toronto. If you are though, you could get up to $5,000 in microfinancing—either grants or loans—to grow your business.

    Because it can be so hard for young people to find funding simply due to their age, BITS created this program to help promising young business people. All you have to do is take part in one of their training programs.

    Then, once you’ve done that and have created a strong business plan that’s been approved by BITS staff, you can apply for financing. Just make sure you’re between 18 and 34 and living in the GTA and you have less than $30,000 in assets and/or income. That’s it!

    Best Young Entrepreneur Non-profit Loans

    Futurpreneur Canada – Side Hustle

    The Futurpreneur Side Hustle Program aims to help entrepreneurs to start and grow a side business or a new side to a business.

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

    Sometimes all you need to get started is a leg up. Young entrepreneurs between 18 and 39 can find that here with financing that requires no collateral.

    You could qualify for financing of up to $60,000 at better interest rates and with better terms than regular lenders offer, plus this program is more likely to take on the risk given it’s designed for young people just starting their businesses. Futurpreneur can loan you up to $20,000, but if you need more, Business Development Canada could step up and offer up to another $40,000.

    Because there are 2 lenders, there are 2 sets of repayment terms. You have the option with Futurpreneur of paying just the interest for the whole first year, and there’s no penalty for paying the loan off early. There is, however, a $15/month fee for length of your loan and a $50 fee upfront.

    With the BDC portion, you can also pay just the interest rate for the first year, but every year on the anniversary date of your loan, you’ll have to pay 15% of the outstanding principal.

    By choosing to finance with Futurpreneur, you’ll also gain access to free mentorship, business resources, and training opportunities. On the other side of that coin, there is a laundry list of qualifications to meet for this program.

    Ottawa Community Loan Fund (OCLF) – Youth Small Business Loans

    A special focus on Youth has been made possible through a partnership with Futurpreneur Canada. The Youth Small Business Loans is designed for young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39.

    Wakenagun Community Futures Development Corporation (Wakenagun CFDC) – Wakenagun CFDC’s Investment Fund – Youth in Business” Loan

    Though this loan program is primarily meant to help youth in the Wakenagun area start a business, you can also use it for your existing business should you already be operating.

    There aren’t many qualifications for this loan. As long as you’re between 18 and 35, live somewhere in the Wakenagun catchment area, and can offer 10% equity, you could borrow up to $20,000 for your new or existing business.

    This loan gives you up to 5 years to pay it back, and though you have to pay interest of prime plus between 2% and 7%, there is no penalty for paying it back early.

    Best Young Entrepreneur Investment

    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 Young Entrepreneur Competition

    Renewal Funds and InvestEco – Youth Impact Challenge

    The Challenge encourages youth (16 – 25 years old) across Canada to organize into diverse teams of three or more and to submit a three-page project idea, that will address a social or environmental issue.

    Best In-kind Support Programs for Young Entrepreneurs

    Have a careful look at the in-kind support programs below. Some of them also provide funding.


    League of Innovators (LOI) – Ready To Build

    Ready to Build, a Foundations Program is a 6-week virtual idea incubator program for youth under 25 to take their entrepreneurial ideas and aspirations to action. Throughout the program, they will gain access to live workshops, self-paced resources, content, build community, and coaching sessions.


    Futurpreneur Canada – Growth Accelerator

    Futurpreneur Canada’s Growth Accelerator is an exciting opportunity for Futurpreneur entrepreneurs looking to take their business to the next stage. This program will connect a cohort of young Futurpreneur entrepreneurs across the country, enabling them to network, learn together, and share ideas as they grow and pivot their businesses.

    League of Innovators (LOI) – Ready To Accelerate

    The Ready to Accelerate Program is provided through the League of Innovators (LOI) Labs, a national virtual accelerator that offers 12 weeks of support, community, resources, skills, and everything eligible applicants need to accelerate their growth.

    Entrepreneurship Programs

    Innovation Cluster – FastStart

    FastStart is designed to increase entrepreneurship skills and awareness and help innovative, young entrepreneurs create solid business plans that take their products and services to market – quickly and successfully. As a FastStarter, one will receive exclusive access to unique workshops and programming through the Innovation Cluster. Innovation Cluster hosts monthly events, workshops, bootcamps, startup contests and more!

    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.

    This program will leave you with all the tools, strategies, and concepts you’ll need to run a successful business. On top of all that, you even get to borrow a laptop from them for the whole course of the program.

    And the best part? Once you graduate, you’ll be able to access their small business financing, and you’ll get to choose between keeping that laptop you borrowed or a $500 grant. What are you waiting for?!

    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 one 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.

    When you’ve completed the program, you’ll even get a $300 grant to get started, and you can apply for their small business loan if you still need a bit more funding.

    York Entrepreneurship Development Institute (YEDI) – Youth Program & Venture Fair

    The Youth Program provides accepted students a free, 4-month program, including formal academic lectures by Schulich Executive Education Centre instructors, workshop-based training in entrepreneurship, and mentorship by key industry leaders. At the end of the program, entrepreneurs will have a professionally developed presentation deck and a proper business model that is ready to pitch and potentially bring to the market.

    Upon successful program completion, participants:

    • receive a formal certification from YEDI;
    • will present their businesses or not-for-profit projects at the exclusive Venture Fair. The Venture Fair provides a concrete opportunity for participants to showcase their business to an investor audience, as well as create industry partnerships that will take their venture to the next level in development and success.

    The Bottom Line

    It may seem daunting when you’re first trying to create and build a new business and you’re a younger person without a credit history (or with little credit history) and with little work experience. Many lenders just don’t want to take that chance on you and can’t afford the vision to do so.

    The financing programs here are different, however. They’re designed to take that risk because they know what a difference young people can make in business. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you’re less capable; it just means you must work harder, so you do.

    With a variety of programs at the federal and provincial levels, you can’t afford to not try. So give these programs a shot and see where your business can go!

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