Money may not make the world go ’round, but it does play a huge role in helping entrepreneurs enter the business world.
Getting a business off the ground is a costly venture, whether it’s seed money, staffing expenses or research and development. One of the most discouraging thing for new business owners is looking at their expense sheet and wondering where the money is going to come from.
For those who get their business up and running but want to expand to bigger markets, there is also funding available to get your products to the world.
Knowing where to find these grants is the first big hurdle.
Thankfully, the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) has an extensive list of grant and loan programs available to new and existing businesses.
Starter Company Plus Grant – London Small Business Centre
For young entrepreneurs, the London Small Business Centre offers grants of up to $5,000 for new and existing businesses for people between 18-29 years of age who are not in school full time.
The Starter Company Plus grant program also provides training, skills development and advice from business advisors to help entrepreneurs get the best start possible. A business plan is required as part of the application.
Applications are closed for the spring intake, however, more information is available online, including contact info for the next round of applicants.
Propel – Western University, Leap Junction – Fanshawe College
London’s biggest institutes of higher learning offer plenty of support programs for new businesses.
Propel and Leap Junction host an annual competition that provides grants of up to $5,000 to Fanshawe and Western students in the early development stages of their business. This is in addition to a $1,000 elevator pitch competition.
Propel also offers students up to $7,500 for sales and tech startups through a summer incubator program.
Concept Definition and Production grant – Ontario Media Development Corporation
Getting into the media biz?
For entrepreneurs who want to enter the digital media landscape and produce interactive content, the OMDC has two separate grants.
The Concept Definition grant provides up to 50 per cent of costs relating to business planning, research, prototype development and most. Grants are available for up to $50,000.
The Production grant takes things a step further – providing funds to get those interactive digital products market-ready. Video games, mobile apps, web sites and web series are all eligible for funding of up to $250,000.
The criteria to meet for these grants is very detailed, and focuses heavily on professionally-created content.
Investment opportunities – Southwestern Ontario Angel Group
The SWO Angels are a group of investors that pairs entrepreneurs with potential investors through a rigourous application and interview process. Angel investors take a look at business plans, financial statements and market viability when interviewing potential candidates.
Investments of between $50,000 – $500,000 are available, provided the investors are satisfied that the business has the ability to grow and excel. Expected returns are 10 times the investment within 5-7 years.
Be prepared to be grilled by investors as you lay out your plans, and make sure you are thinking long-term. Check out their full criteria on their website.
In addition to grants and investment opportunities, there are also a number of loan programs available to budding businesses.
Newcomer loans – Futurepreneur
For new Canadians and immigrants who have been here for less than five years, Futurepreneur has a loan program that can provide up to $45,000 in startup money to help get new businesses off the ground.
Applicants must produce a business plan, as well as have relevant experience. Businesses must be in operation for less than 12 months in order to qualify.
Futurepreneur provides mentors for entrepreneurs as part of the program. Full details are listed online.
Impact Loan – Goodwill Industries
These small loans of up to $10,000 are available to entrepreneurs that are unable to access traditional business financing.
People looking for self-employment business opportunities are welcome to apply, provided they meet a low income cut-off requirement.
Impact loans are not just about money, however. The program offers coaching and planning help, as well as networking and support services. It’s made available through help from the Small Business Centre and Libro Credit Union.
RISE Asset Development
This is another program geared toward entrepreneurs facing barriers to start a business. RISE Asset Development provides loans of up to $10,000 to individuals with mental health and addiction challenges who are unable to secure traditional financing.
Loans are based on business viability and the lendee’s capacity to repay them. Like the Impact loans, successful applicants also receive support and mentorship.
They are available throughout Ontario, with a London region contact on their website.
Check out these opportunities and more
The full list of funding programs is available through the LEDC website. While we focused on small and startup business programs here, there are grants and loans available for medium and large-scale businesses looking to increase their staff, expand their product reach, and upgrade equipment.
This post has been powered by London iNC., a division of the London Economic Development Corporation. “London iNC. helps high growth entrepreneurs to raise and find funding, hire and develop talent, expand their markets, and locate business development opportunities.”
Feature photo by Scott Webb via Unsplash