Eligibility: How to Know If You Qualify

Because there are literally hundreds of business grants available in Ontario, many aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business owners are eligible for at least a handful of grants.

But many grant programs have a common set of criteria that applicants must meet. If you can align your business with these common criteria, you’ll be eligible for more free money!

Common Eligibility Criteria for Business Grants

  • Be incorporated. While there are grants available for sole proprietors, many grant programs require that a business be incorporated.
  • Be registered. You should be registered in the province your business is headquartered in.
  • Be operating for a minimum of one year. Many grant programs require that a business be operational (i.e., earning revenue) for at least twelve months, with some programs requiring twenty-four months of continuous operation.
  • Have established revenue. A history of revenue signals to grant organizations that a business is established (and therefore less risky), so many grant programs require that a business already be earning income.
  • Minimum number of employees. Grant programs that provide large grants tend to have minimum employee criteria (but this not the case with many smaller grants).

A Funding Tip for Start-Ups

For start-ups, the key to getting any kind of funding, whether it be grants, loans, or other types of funding, is to ensure that:

  • There is proven demand for your product or service
  • Your business’s goals align with the priorities of funding organizations.
  • Your business will create jobs. (Funding organizations love to brag about creating jobs!)

If you’re looking for money for a new business, you should consider these types of funding (in addition to grants):

  • Business plan competitions
  • Incubators

Grant Eligibility FAQs

We get lots of questions about eligibility. Here are answers to the most common questions:

This is probably the most common question we receive from entrepreneurs. The bottom line is this: you need to review the eligibility requirements in the grant program guide.

No. There are many grant programs that are available to sole proprietors.

No. Some grants are available for both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. In addition, some grants are also available to communities (this is especially the case with Indigenous grants).

Definitely! There are grant programs specifically for students, including grants to start a summer business and more.

With the exception of student grants, most grant programs require the applicant to be the “age of majority” to apply. In most Canadian provinces that is 18 years old, with the remaining provinces being 19 years old. Having said that, there are some grants specifically for young entrepreneurs.

While some grant programs are available for start-ups (i.e., new businesses), other grant programs require that a business have been operational for a minimum of one or two years.

Grants do not typically require a specific level of business revenue to qualify, but some programs do require that you be in business for a minimum of one or two years.

The applicant’s credit score is usually not checked by government grant programs. However, you may need a specific minimum credit score to qualify for other attractive programs, such as low-interest loans backed by the federal government.

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