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Compare business loans and grants for women

Are you a woman entrepreneur? Find out how you can access funds and resources to grow your small business in Canada.

As a woman entrepreneur, there are a number of financing options that you can take advantage of to grow your small business in Canada. These can include private loans, federal government loans, regional funding options and grants. Compare some of the best business loans for women entrepreneurs in Canada to find the one that best suits your needs.

Private business loans for women

You can apply for business loans for women with the following private sector lenders. You can also use this handy loan search tool developed by the Canadian government to find other loans and grants that you may be eligible for.

Futurpreneur Canada: Business loan for women under the age of 40

Futurpreneur Canada makes it easier for aspiring young women to secure financing for their businesses. It partners with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to offer collateral-free loans at better interest rates than most banks. Terms typically last up to 5 years but you can only qualify for financing if you’re under the age of 40.
  • How much can I borrow? Borrow up to $20,000 (plus an additional $40,000 from BDC if needed).
  • How much will it cost? Interest rates for Futurpreneur are typically the CIBC prime rate plus 3%. You’ll also pay a one-time management fee of 1% when the loan is disbursed.
  • How to qualify? You must be a Canadian citizen or resident between 18 and 39 years old. You have to submit a full business plan, prove that you have training/education in a related industry and be able to use your business for full-time employment. You will also need to agree to regular mentorship and reporting.
ProsCons
  • Large loan amounts
  • No penalty for early repayment
  • Term lengths up to 5 years (interest-only payments in the first year)
  • Mentoring and business counselling
  • First-year payments only cover interest
  • Credit check is required to determine eligibility
  • Admin fees increase the total cost of your loan

Journey Capital Canada: Quick financing business loan for women

Journey Capital Canada provides fast and affordable loans to women-led businesses in Canada. You’ll have to repay the amount you borrow with fixed daily or weekly amounts, and your interest rates will range from 8% to 29%. The interest you’ll have to pay will depend on a number of factors like the state of your credit, how much you borrow and the length of your term.
  • How much can I borrow? You can borrow anywhere from $5,000 to $300,000 with terms lasting from 4 months to 24 months.
  • How much will it cost? You’ll pay interest rates between 8% and 29%, but you may be able to get lower rates if you have a really strong credit score.
  • How to qualify? You should be in business for at least 1 year as well as have $100,000 in gross annual revenue, a minimum credit score of 500 and at least 5 deposits to your business chequing account each month.

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ProsCons
  • Quick financing (get cash in as little as 24 hours)
  • Large loan amounts
  • No collateral required to qualify
  • Several loan types
  • Less competitive interest rates than some other private loans
  • Minimum credit score of 600
  • Businesses less than 6 months old won’t qualify

SharpShooter Funding: For businesses underserved by banks

SharpShooter Funding offers business loan options for women, which are easier to qualify for than with the banks. Loan amounts can range from $1,000 to $300,000, with terms from a couple of months up to 5 years and interest rates starting at 5.49% for a 12-month term. Just be aware that you’ll need an annual business revenue of $49,992 to qualify for certain loans.
  • How much can I borrow? You can borrow between $1,000 and $300,000, with terms lasting up to 5 years.
  • How much will it cost? Interest rates range from 5.49% to 22.79%, depending on your credit score and the length of your term.
  • How to qualify? You need to have been in business for 12 months and have $49,992 in annual revenue for most loans. You will also need a credit score of 620+.

ProsCons
  • Large loan amounts
  • No collateral required to qualify
  • Terms lasting up to 5 years
  • High annual revenue requirements
  • Minimum credit score of 620
  • No funding for startups or businesses less than 1 year old

Driven: Business loan for women with fair credit

Driven offers business loans for women and other minorities with fair credit scores. Loans range from $5000 to $300,000, and you can withdraw and pay back continually from that amount during your loan term. These loans come with short terms (between 2 months and 2 years) and interest rates are fixed.
  • How much can I borrow? You can borrow between $5000 and $300,000, with terms of 2 - 24 months.
  • How much will it cost? Interest rates are fixed for the length of the loan, and depend on a number of factors, like your credit score.
  • How to qualify? You must have a Canada-based business that has been operating for at least 6 months with a revenue of $120,000 per year. You will also need a minimum credit score of at least 600.
ProsCons
  • Large loan amounts
  • No collateral required to qualify
  • Credit top-ups are available
  • Fair credit is accepted
  • Short terms (2 years or less)
  • High monthly sales needed to qualify
  • Businesses less than 3 months old aren’t eligible

Coralus: For zero-interest loans

Coralus (formerly SheEO) offers zero-interest loans to women-led ventures that meet specific criteria. The amount you can borrow will be an equal split of the amount of money collected in the pool of funds contributed from Active Activators. If your venture is selected, you can borrow the funds you need at a 0% interest rate over 5 years, repaid in in 20 equal installments.
  • How much can I borrow? Loan amounts are determined by the total pooled funds of contributing members, but will not exceed $100,000 per venture.
  • How much will it cost? You’ll get a 0% interest rate over a 5-year term, so the loan is essentially free.
  • How to qualify? Your company must be majority-led by a woman with annual recurring revenue between $50,000 and $2 million. Your business plan must revolve around creating a better world or contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
ProsCons
  • Zero interest on loans
  • Decent loan amounts
  • Terms lasting up to 5 years
  • Mentorship and networking opportunities
  • Competitive application
  • Long application process (up to 1 year)
  • Need to have a strong product and marketing campaign to win votes

Compare private business loans

1 - 3 of 3
Name Product APR Range Loan Amount Loan Term Minimum Revenue Minimum Time in Business Loans Offered Broker Compliance
Journey Capital Business Loan
8.00% – 29.00%
$5,000 - $300,000
4 - 24 months
$100,000/year
6+ months
Term Loan, Line of Credit, Merchant Cash Advance
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 6 months with a minimum annual gross revenue of $100,000.

Journey Capital offers fast and simple financing. Apply in less than 10 minutes with your basic business information and see your loan offers without hurting your credit score. Get approved within 1 business day, and choose your term, amount and payback schedule once approved.
Merchant Growth Business Loan
12.99% – 39.99%
$5,000 – $800,000
6 – 24 months
$10,000 /month
6 months
Unsecured Term, Line of Credit, Merchant Cash Advance
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 6 months and have a minimum of $10,000 in monthly sales.

Merchant Growth offers financing tailored to business needs. It specializes in providing capital based on future cash flows, but it also offers fixed solutions. Fill out an application within 5 minutes and get your funds within 24 hours.
Loans Canada Business Loan
6.60% - 29.00%
$4,000 - $500,000
3 - 60 months
over $10,000/month
100 days
Unsecured Term
Loans Canada is a loan search platform with access to multiple lenders. Applicants will be matched with a suitable lender based on credit history and borrowing requirements.
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 100 days, have a Canadian business bank account and show a minimum of $10,000 in monthly deposits ($120,000/year).

Loans Canada connects Canadian small business owners to lenders offering financing up to $500,000. Complete one simple online application and get matched with your loan options.
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Government-sponsored business loans for women

The federal government is committed to closing the gender gap in business and offers a number of resources to women-owned businesses.

Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP): Business loan for women needing a large amount

CSBFP loans are backed by a government guarantee where you can borrow up to $1,000,000 for a term loan. You can use this money to purchase or improve business assets such as land, buildings, equipment and leasehold agreements. There is also a line of credit option worth up to $150,000 you can use to fund day-to-day operations like payroll, inventory, professional fees or other expenses.

  • How much can I borrow? You can borrow Up to $1 million, with terms lasting up to 5 years.
  • How much will it cost? Interest rates will typically be the lender’s prime rate plus 3%, You’ll also pay a CSBFP registration fee worth 2% of your total loan amount.
  • How to qualify? To qualify, you’ll need to make under $10 million in revenue annually, operate a for-profit Canadian business and use the loan funds for approved purposes.
ProsCons
  • Large amounts (Up to $1 million) for a term loan and $150,000 for a line of credit
  • Reasonable interest rates
  • Less strict eligibility criteria than some other business loans
  • Not suitable for operating costs
  • Admin fees worth 2% of loan amount

Business Development Bank of Canada: Comprehensive business loan for women

BDC offers business funding that’s been specifically earmarked to support women entrepreneurs. For startups, it works with Futurpreneur Canada to top up your funding amounts if you need some extra cash. It also offers larger start-up financing for businesses in operation for 12 months or more and runs the Women in Technology Venture Fund if you want equity financing.

  • How much can I borrow? Up to $40,000 (in addition to $20,000 from Futurpreneur) or you can get up to $250,000 with a larger long-term BDC loan.
  • How much will it cost? Interest rates are the BDC floating base rate plus 1.65% for Futurpreneur loans. You’ll also pay a $50 processing fee when your loan is disbursed. Interest rates vary for start-up financing.
  • How to qualify? Be over the age of majority and have a startup less than 12 months old (for Futurpreneur loans) or a Canadian-owned business in operation for at least 12 months (for BDC start-up financing), show proof of a good credit score and a solid business plan.
ProsCons
  • Reasonable loan amounts
  • Pay off an additional 15% of your principal each year for no fee
  • Term lengths up to 5 years
  • Mentoring and expertise
  • First-year payments cover interest only
  • Long-term loans aren’t suitable for startups less than 12 months old

Export Development Canada: Business loan for large-scale traders

EDC sponsors the Inclusive Trade Investments Program to provide equity capital specifically designed to help Canadian women entrepreneurs. This program makes direct investments in women-owned and -led businesses that have strong potential to achieve significant trade and export growth.

  • How much can I borrow? There’s no amount specified for this program.
  • How much will it cost? This is an equity investment so you won’t need to repay EDC, but you’ll have to give up an equity share in your company to participate in the program.
  • How to qualify? Be a Canadian company founded or led by women, with commercial revenue growth accelerating towards $500,000 and already exporting or ready for export.
ProsCons
  • Equity capital specifically reserved for women in trade
  • Presumably large amounts
  • You’ll need to give up equity in your company
  • Requires revenue growth accelerating towards $500,000
  • No funding for startups or businesses less than 1 year old

Grants for women in business

There are a number of business grants for women that you may be interested in if you would rather get capital for your business without needing to worry about repayment:

Business grants for womenHow much will I get?
Small business grants
The Forum PitchUp to $30,000 to fund business growth
WomensNet Amber GrantUp to $25,000 for marketing and business growth
Canadian Women’s Foundation GrantUp to $20,000 for women’s organizations working on gender-equality issues
Communitech Fierce FoundersUp to $50,000 to build and scale your business
Industry-specific grants
Cartier Women’s Initiative AwardsVarying amounts for science, technology and diversity initiatives
MaRS Discovery District StandUp VenturesVarying amounts for health, cleantech, fintech and enterprise initiatives
Sustainable Development Technology Fund Typically $2 million to $4 million for sustainable technology projects
Strategic Innovation FundOver $10 million for business innovation and growth
Export grants
CanExport SMEUp to $50,000 for export activities
CanExport InnovationUp to $75,000 for international research and development activities
Creative Export CanadaUp to $2.5 million in contributions per project

Regional entrepreneur programs and business loans for women

You can explore the following programs for regional financing, education, mentorship and business development programs for women entrepreneurs.

ProvinceWomen Entrepreneur Programs
British ColumbiaWomen’s Enterprise Centre (WeBC) – loans and mentorship

Community Futures Pan West – networking and skills development

Small Business BC – education and advice

AlbertaAlberta Women Entrepreneurs – loans and leadership programs

SME Export Support Fund Alberta – business loans

Community Futures Pan West – networking and skills development

SaskatchewanWomen Entrepreneurs Saskatchewan – loans and business advising

Community Futures Pan West – networking and skills development

ManitobaWomen’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba – networking and business advising

Community Futures Pan West – networking and skills development

OntarioPARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise – business financing, networking and educational opportunities

Community Futures Ontario – loans and business counselling

QuebecFemmessor Loans for Women – business financing, management consulting services and leadership

Réseau des SADC/CAE – business financing and technical support

PME MTL – coaching, financing and training in Montreal

NewfoundlandRegional Development Fund – financing and training

Newfoundland & Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs – business counselling, training and mentorship

The Atlantic Association of CBDCs – learning and business development support

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) – business financing and development hub

Prince Edward IslandPEI Entrepreneur Loan Program – business financing

Prince Edward Island Business Women’s Association – skills training and mentorship

The Atlantic Association of CBDCs – learning and business development support

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) – business financing and development hub

Nova ScotiaNova Scotia Business Inc loans – business financing, training and summits

The Atlantic Association of CBDCs – learning and business development support

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) – business financing and development hub

New BrunswickWomen in Business New Brunswick – business and skills development and training

The Atlantic Association of CBDCs – learning and business development support

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) – business financing and development hub

Northwest Territories, Yukon and NunavutNorthwest Territories Community Futures Association – hub to connect regions in the Northwest Territories with financing and training opportunities

Does my business qualify for a loan?

Business requirements tend to vary based on what type of loan you’re interested in. That said, you generally need to meet the following criteria to get a standard loan:

  • Age of the business. You’ll usually need to have been operating for at least 6 months to 1 year for most business loans offered by online lenders and banks (although some online lenders will work with businesses that have been operating for a minimum of 100 days). If you’re looking for startup financing, you’ll need to turn to a lender specializing in it – or search for grants.
  • Revenue. Your business will need to bring in a minimum amount of revenue each month or year in order to be eligible for a loan. Revenue requirements can range from as low as $5,000 a month to as high as $100,000 a year.
  • Credit score. Most lenders will require that you meet a minimum personal credit score requirement in order to be eligible for a business loan. While many lenders will expect you to have a fair to good credit rating of around 650, some will work with borrowers that have scores as low as 450.

If you don’t meet the eligibility criteria for a loan, you still have options. You might want to look into microlenders, Community Development Financial Institutions or online lenders. Just be aware that your company may need to be majority-owned by women to apply for a business loan designed for women entrepreneurs.

What information do I need to apply for a business loan for women?

Different lenders will require different documentation, but you’ll typically need a basic level of information to apply across the board various types of business loans and grants for women. Here’s a breakdown of what you might be asked to submit when filling out your application:

Business information

  • Business tax returns
  • Business bank statements
  • Lease agreements if you operate out of a storefront
  • Proof of business ownership
  • Business asset transactions
  • Business plan

Personal information

  • Personal tax returns
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Contact information and mailing address
  • Proof of residency
  • Personal credit score

How to apply for a business loan for women

You can follow the steps below if you’re looking to apply for a small business loan for women in Canada:

  1. Compare your options. You’ll want to compare at least 3 to 4 providers – including any who specialize in offering women-focused funding – to find the best loan for you based on loan amount, interest rates, fees and eligibility criteria.
  2. Prequalify for your loan. Apply to pre-qualify for the loan of your choice by filling out an online application and providing the necessary documentation.
  3. Complete an interview. In some cases, you may be required to go through an interview process to determine your eligibility for a loan.
  4. Wait for a decision. You’ll usually need to wait for a decision on your loan application and provide any follow-up documentation that’s requested by your lender.
  5. Negotiate the terms of your loan. You’ll want to work with your lending institution to negotiate the repayment terms of your loan and the interest rates that you’ll have to pay.

Bottom line

There are a number of financing options available to women entrepreneurs in Canada. These include federal programs as well as private and not-for-profit lenders looking to close the gender gap. Find out more about what types of business loans for women you might want to take out, and apply for financing today to get the money you need to grow your business.

Frequently asked questions about business loans for women

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