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Grants and loans for minority-owned businesses

Find out what types of specialized programs exist for minority-owned businesses.

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Building a successful business requires hard work, personal sacrifice and the unglamorous reality of getting the funding you need. If you’re a minority, you may qualify for financial opportunities designed to help your business succeed. We’ll take you through various minority business loan and grant options, who can get them and how to apply.

Types of business loans for minorities

There are many business loans available to entrepreneurs in Canada – among them are offerings targeted at people who face a greater number of challenges in helping their businesses succeed.
Minority business people

Here’s a closer look at prime examples of business loans for minorities:

Innovation Canada

Innovation Canada is the federal department tasked with growing the economy by supporting innovators and entrepreneurs with a large database of government funding opportunities and services. It would be worth your while to search through this database to find national and provincial/territorial financing that you could qualify for.

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

Additionally, you should also take a look at funding offered by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), the nation’s only financial institution that operates solely for entrepreneurs. The BDC has many financing opportunities and training resources for a wide range of business people including young entrepreneurs, indigenous people, newcomers to Canada, female entrepreneurs and others.

Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP) Loan

The CSBFP Loan offers loans of up to $1 million to startups and small businesses that gross $1,000,000 or less per year. You can apply for this loan through many banks including TD Canada Trust, CIBC, Scotiabank, BMO and HSBC. The amount you qualify for ultimately depends on how the bank evaluates your loan application and credit score. Learn more in our detailed guide.

Futurpreneur Canada

Canadian citizens or permanent residents aged 18-39 who are not already receiving a BDC loan could qualify for a loan of up to $20,000 from Futurpreneur Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping young entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP)

The BEP is a partnership between the Government of Canada, Black-led business organizations, and financial institutions. Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country can apply for loans of up to $250,000. The BEP also includes a Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub to help identify barriers to success and opportunities for growth. Check out more about the Black Entrepreneurship Program.

Non-governmental business loans

You can also apply for loans through banks, credit unions and private lenders. Compare business loan options you might qualify for in the table below.

Remember that there are many business financing opportunities not specifically geared towards minority groups that minority business owners can still take advantage of.

Compare other small business loan options

The following business loans are available to both minority and non-minority business owners, so long as they meet lenders’ eligibility criteria. Criteria typically centres on business-related factors (as opposed to ethnic or social factors) and can include having a minimum business income, being in operation for at least a certain number of months or years, having a minimum credit score and other factors.

Name Product Interest Rate Loan Amount Loan Term Minimum Revenue Minimum Time in Business Loans Offered
SharpShooter Funding Business Loan
Prime pricing from 9.00%
$500 - $250,000
6 - 120 months
$10,000 /month
100 days
Unsecured Term, Merchant Cash Advance, Invoice Factoring
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 100 days with a minimum of $10,000 in monthly deposits.

SharpShooter provides capital to small businesses that are underserved by banks and credit unions. It measures overall business health and potential rather than focusing strictly on traditional metrics. Fill out a simple application and get pre-approved in minutes. Receive your funds within 24 hours.
Swoop Funding Business Loan
4.00% - 25.00%
$1,000 - $5,000,000
3 - 60 months
$10,000 /month
24 months
Term, MCA, LOC & more
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 24 months and have a minimum of $100,000 in annual revenue.

Swoop partners with banks and alternative lenders to match your business with the right funding options. Register for free and browse your offers without affecting your credit score.
OnDeck Business Loan
8.00% – 29.00%
$5,000 - $300,000
6 - 18 months
$10,000 /month
6 months
Secured Term, Line of Credit, Merchant Cash Advance
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 6 months with a minimum monthly revenue of $10,000.

OnDeck 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.
Loans Canada Business Loan
Prime Pricing from 9.00%
$2,000 - $350,000
3 - 60 months
$4,166 /month
100 days
Unsecured Term
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 100 days, have a credit score of 410+ and show a minimum of $4,166 in monthly deposits ($50,000/year).

Loans Canada connects Canadian small business owners to lenders offering financing up to $350,000. Complete one simple online application and get matched with your loan options.
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What small business grants are available for minorities?

While you may be able to find some grants for minority business owners in Canada, you’ll have more luck with loans. Despite the sparse availability of grants geared specifically towards minority entrepreneurs, there are many business grants on both the federal and provincial/territorial levels that minority and non-minority business owners are welcome to apply for.

The Government of Canada has a database where you can search for available grants and contributions. (Contributions are similar to grants but often come with an agreement outlining requirements – sometimes called “performance conditions” – on how the funds will be used.) Also, check your provincial/territorial government website for more information on funding for minority business owners.

You can also research business grants that apply to your specific industry (technology, retail, tourism, agriculture) and geographical location, too. Some examples include the British Columbia Buy Local Program, which is geared towards funding businesses engaged in the agriculture and food industry and the Northern Business Opportunity Program which is dedicated to helping small businesses based in Northern Ontario.

Popular grants for startups

What’s the difference between a loan and a grant?

Short answer loans have to be paid back but grants don’t. A loan is usually paid back with interest, meaning you pay extra for the convenience of borrowing money you don’t have at the moment. A grant is free money. You can keep it without any fees and without having to pay it back. But beware that some grants require a minimum investment from the business owner for funds to be released.

Canadian law protects minorities from being discriminated against in the process of applying, and getting approved for, business loans. Grounds for discrimination are laid out in the Canadian Human Rights Act, which makes it illegal to treat a person or group badly based on any of the following factors:

  • Race
  • National or ethnic origin
  • Colour
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity or expression
  • Marital status
  • Family status
  • Disability
  • Genetic characteristics
  • A conviction for which a pardon has been granted or a record suspended

Minority groups can be broadly classified by characteristics such as ethnicity, gender, physical disabilities and other social and economical designations.

According to the Employment Equity Act, the Canadian government considers visible minorities to be “persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour” (S.C. 1995, c. 44, current to Feb. 11, 2020).

Loan qualifications for minority-owned businesses vary by lender and program. If your business has multiple owners, some of whom are not minorities, you may have to show that the minority business owners have the primary (larger) stake in the company. Certain loans or grants may also come with limitations on the size or revenue of businesses that can qualify for funding. Additionally, lenders may want to check your personal and/or business credit history.

Other sources of funding

Merchant cash advances

A merchant cash advance lets you borrow money in exchange for a percentage of your daily credit card and debit sales, so the amount you pay will be lower when you sell less. Lenders determine the amount you can borrow by looking at your historical sales data.

Online lenders

Across the board, online lenders are a convenient way to apply for a business loan. There’s less paperwork compared to a bank and a shorter application process, even if you’re a small business. While they may be more lenient with which businesses they approve a loan for, you may have to compensate by paying higher interest rates on your loan, depending on your business plan and credit score.

Invoice financing and invoice factoring

Often used by B2B (business-to-business) and B2G (business-to-government) companies, this option consists of lenders advancing you an amount based on what customers owe you. Factoring companies charge a small percentage of the value of your invoices as either a fixed rate fee or a tiered fee that increases based on how long customers take to pay their invoices. Learn more about invoice financing vs invoice factoring.

Private equity firms

Private equity firms may be interested in supporting your business by offering short-term high-interest loans or funding for a large stake in your company. If you’re not willing to give up some of your ownership, look elsewhere for funding. With a stake in your company’s success, you may find mentorship and development opportunities via this route but it’s worth noting private equity firms tend to scope out large-scale business opportunities with a major payout so startups may not be on their radar.

Angel investors

Angel investors are wealthy groups or individuals who give money to promising businesses with the expectation that those businesses will grow and return a sizeable profit. This type of financing is often given to companies that specialize in software, technology, mass market consumer goods, equipment and specialist products.

Crowdfunding

An increasingly popular alternative to traditional business loans, crowdfunding allows you to advertise a new product idea or startup business and allow anyone – friends, family or complete strangers – to contribute small amounts of money to help you reach your goal. In exchange, donors get some form of compensation or gift, which varies based on your preferences and the crowdfunding platform you’re using.

How to apply for a business loan or grant

It’s smart to outline your business plan before applying for funding – donors and lenders will want to see that you have a solid plan for success but that you need financial help to succeed. You should also gather documentation showing the state of your personal finances, especially if you’re applying for a loan based on financial need. Expect to get a hard check on your credit score as well.

Application checklist

Requirements for different loans and grants vary, but here’s a quick guide to the documentation you may need:

  • Your business tax returns
  • Financial statements for your business for the past three years
  • A balance sheet for your business for the past three years
  • Lease agreements
  • Proof of business ownership
  • Business asset transactions
  • State filings
  • Your personal financial information
  • A detailed long-term business plan
  • A prepared presentation that goes over your business plan and statement of need

If you already have a business in another country and want to expand to Canada, check out this government hub for information and resources on how to immigrate your business and what policies apply to you.

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