Young Entrepreneur Grants (2021): 10 Financial Incentives for Ontario 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!

Young Entrepreneur Incentives Available Across Canada

These financing programs are available at the national level, offering you the opportunity to access more than one source of funding. Start here to get the financing you need to start your new business, and then move on to the provincial programs.

But don’t stack that debt too high or you’ll never crawl out from underneath it, and you may end up disqualifying yourself from financing!

Young Entrepreneur Grants, Loans & Equity Investments Available Across Canada

Futurpreneur Canada Youth Financing

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.

You must

  • show some training/experience related to your business idea
  • create full-time sustainable employment for yourself
  • agree to work with a mentor for up to 2 years (4 to 5 hours a month)
  • produce a complete and viable business plan by the end of the application process
  • have a fully operating business for fewer than 12 months
  • agree to complete Futurpreneur Canada status updates every month
  • agree to providing authorization for Futurpreneur Canada to carry out a credit check
  • supply two personal references
  • assure your business is not in the research and development stage
  • assure that financing proceeds are not used to refinance existing debt
  • confirm you’re not a current BDC borrower
  • confirm your business fits within acceptable industry guidelines
  • show you’ve been out of bankruptcy for 5 years

There’s an additional list of eligibility criteria for partnerships, business take-overs, and incorporations, so take a look at that list too if you fall within one of those categories. It’s also a good idea to take a look at their list of unacceptable businesses before you go to apply.

But if you’re still interested and meet the criteria, it’s as easy as applying online. Just remember that much of whether they decide to finance you depends on your credit score.

If you feel you need to know more before applying, register for a Futurpreneur account to get in touch with them.

Business Development Canada Young Entrepreneur

BDC has 2 financing streams through this program: Start-Up Financing and the Small Business Loan. Start-Up Financing is aimed at those whose businesses are less than a year old, and the Small Business Loan is for those who’ve been generating revenue for more than 2 years.

Start-Up Financing offers an option to defer your capital payments at the beginning of your loan plus the ability to tailor your payments to the seasonal or cyclical cash-flow pattern of your business.

There’s a fair amount of qualification criteria for this one, but they’re all rather simple criteria to meet:

  • be a Canadian-based business established for the first time
  • have good credit history
  • have a solid business plan ready
  • are of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live
  • have a reasonable financial investment in the business
  • have experience or expertise in your chosen field
  • demonstrate realistic market and sales potential
  • demonstrate key personal characteristics of a successful entrepreneur
  • have a competent management team

Should you find you fit the qualifications, you can apply online anytime.

The Small Business Loan allows you to postpone your capital payment for the first 6 months of your loan, and it also allows you 5 years to pay it off.

This one is even easier to qualify for than the Start-Up Financing in that to qualify, you only need to be a Canadian-based business creating revenue for over 24 months, be over the age of majority where you live, and have a good credit history.

If you meet that criteria, you can apply online and access your money in just 48 hours. This loan comes with no application fee, and they won’t take your personal assets as collateral. You only need a personal guarantee.

Do you still have questions about either one of these programs? Then just send them an email or give them a call at 1-877-232-2269.

Mitacs Accelerate Entrepreneur

Are you a graduate student with some exciting new research or technology? Do you just need the financial help to get it off the ground and into the market?

Then look no further. With relatively few qualification criteria beyond what’s been mentioned already, this program will basically pay you to introduce your new idea to the world.

Provided you’re hosted by an incubator facility, you could get 50% funding, or a minimum of $10,000 per 4-month internship project.

There’s no deadline to apply for this program, but you do need to be a full-time student at a Canadian or Mitacs partner country university or college. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Canadian student, permanent resident, or international student or what discipline you’re studying because you all qualify.

So if you’re excited to get your new technology or research into the market and grow your business and you meet the criteria, apply now. Just send them an email and they’ll send you what you need. You can also ask questions at the same time.

After you’ve received everything you need from Mitacs to apply, make sure you have your completed Mitacs Accelerate proposal and Conflict of Interest declaration, plus your letter of support from your host incubator facility, ready to send in.

Digital Media Zone (DMZ) at Ryerson University Sandbox

The Sandbox program at Ryerson offers young potential entrepreneurs a chance to learn directly from the experts, develop innovative ideas, and to gain market and customer validation.

It does this with 2 programs: Basecamp and FounderX. Basecamp is a 6-week course for high school and university students to learn new ways of creating new ideas that improve society or the economy while also tailoring those ideas to the market and the intended audience.

FounderX offers young people the opportunity to shadow prominent Canadian founders so you get to learn what it takes to successfully lead a start-up up close and open up an invaluable network.

With Basecamp, you’ll learn how to take your idea and bring it to life. You’ll also learn coding, 3D printing, sales and finance, pitching, leadership skills, public speaking, and more. By the time you’re done, you’ll leave with a well-rounded idea, a complete product, and a solid business model.

But that’s not all. You’ll also get the chance to compete for $5,000 if you’re one of the top 5 students. Plus, you can apply individually or as a team of up to 4 people. And it’s free to apply! But applications close in March 2020 for university students and June 2020 for high school students, so hurry!

So if you’re a current student or have graduated within the last 8 months and you have a great idea, apply right away.

FounderX invites 20 lucky candidates to a group interview to discuss personal and professional goals. From that interview, only 4 are chosen to shadow successful founders. This program gives you not only the opportunity to talk with a founding CEO and learn from every one of their company’s departments, but it also gives you the chance to have a private lunch with the director of Google Canada in Toronto.

Get your application in quickly though, as your chance to participate ends on March 12, 2020. Apply now with your resume if you think you have what it takes and great idea disruptive tech.

Send them an email or give them a call at 416-979-5000, ext. 2072 if you have questions you need answered before you get started.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Housing Internship Initiative for First Nations and Inuit Youth

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.

The organization must be the one to apply, but they can apply anytime by contacting a regional First Nation Housing Specialist in their location.

Young Entrepreneur Incentives Available in Ontario

Jump on these provincial programs to build your business or get it off the ground. Many of the qualifications are easy to meet and so are the repayment terms. Don’t miss out!

Grants for Ontario Young Entrepreneurs

Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Starter Company Plus

If you’re under 30 and working to start a business in Ontario, start your search for funding here. You could find yourself with $5,000 in funding if you qualify.

And qualify you might if you’re over 18, an Ontario resident and Canadian citizen or permanent resident, no longer in school, and can contribute at least 25% in cash or in kind.

When you apply, you’ll also get access to networking events, conferences, a personal business advisor, and learning opportunities such as how to write a business plan and how to create a marketing campaign.

You’ll even be able to take advantage of their Small Business Enterprise Centres where you can use their internet and computers, their directories and trade indexes, and library. They also offer free professional advice from business consultants, lawyer and accountant referral services, access to workshops and seminars, free reviews of your business plan, and more.

Applying is easy, and you can do it anytime just through your local Small Business Enterprise Centre.

If you still have questions though, you can email them or give them a call at 416-326-3408.

Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Start a Summer Company

Who says you have to be an adult to have a good idea and successfully run a company? Young people can be incredibly talented and ready to work hard.

If you’re one of those young potential entrepreneurs in Ontario and still in school, consider looking into this program. Start up a business just for the summer and get money from the government to help you out.

Students in Ontario between 15 and 29 that are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, returning to school in the fall, and not going to school or working more than 12 hours/week during the summer qualify. However, if you’re already running a business or have participated in this program in the past, you won’t qualify.

So if you’re ready to build and run a business for the summer because you have a great idea and you’re ambitious and ready to work at least 280 hours if you’re a high school student and 420 if you’re a university student, you could get $3,000 to do so this summer! You’ll get $1,500 in the beginning, and $1,500 at the end when you successfully meet the requirements. You can even choose to keep running your business while in school next year if you like.

Apply soon because applications close between April 29 and May 17 of each year, depending on the category (based on your idea). Contact your local Small Business Enterprise Centre to apply. You can also contact them via email or phone at 416-326-3408 for more information.

Loans for Ontario Young Entrepreneurs

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!

Apply now if you’re interested because they’re only taking applications until April 3, 2020.

Need some answers first? No problem. Just fill out their contact form and submit it with all your questions.

Business in the Streets (BITS) and Ignite Capital Ignite Capital Pitch Competition

This financing program may not be only for young entrepreneurs, but it certainly fits as the only people who can participate are those who have been thus far unable to secure funding for their business, despite their good ideas and hard work.

If this sounds like you and you’re 18 or older and living in Ontario (and can prove it with government-issued ID), own 50% or more of a for-profit, registered business less than 5 years old, and haven’t been able to find funding in traditional ways, then consider applying for this program. It has 3 categories you can apply to: Starting Up, Scaling Up, and Growing Up. If you apply for the Starting Up category, your business must be less than 2 years old.

If you qualify, you’ll get the opportunity to submit your business plan and financials. A committee will review all the submissions and you could be one of the lucky 3 that make it to the shortlist. If that happens, you’ll get to pitch your idea live for a chance to win $15,000 in funding in grants, loans, or in-kind donations.

Ready to apply? You can do so online, but take your time and get your business plan and financials together and fine-tuned first because applications don’t open until spring 2020.

If you’d like to get in touch with them as you prepare your case, you can fill out their contact form or send an email.

Wakenagun Community Futures Development Corporation 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.

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.

You can apply for the loan anytime but be prepared to submit a Statement of Intent form, a project description, estimated costs, a business plan, and a Statement of Personal Assets and Liabilities when you apply.

If you’d like to know more, send in your questions with their online contact form or call (705) 658-4428 or 1-800-989-4850 toll free.

The Bottom Line

It may seem daunting when you’re first trying 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 have to 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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