Starting a business is no easy feat. Many people who dream about starting one ultimately don’t because they simply don’t have the money. But there is help to get you started. If you happen to live and work in eastern Canada, read on to learn where to find small business grants in Nova Scotia.
Grants can be awarded by the government, corporations, trusts and by successful business owners. Some grants are designed to encourage:
- Regional startups in general
- Innovation in science or technology
- Specific industries such as steel/aluminum
- Businesses owned or led by women
- Businesses owned by under-represented groups
While applying for these grants can be time-consuming, all the elbow grease you put in can pay out in the end. A grant could be just what your small business needs to find its footing.
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3 sources of small business grants in Nova Scotia
For many entrepreneurs, even a small grant can make a huge difference. Here are 3 sources to check out.
- Government innovation grants.
- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) grants.
- NRC Industrial Research Assistance.
Scan through our list to find an option that interests you. Then keep reading for information on small business loans.
1. Government innovation grants
Nova Scotia-based business owners who plan to export may be eligible for a cost-share rebate of up to 50% of project costs, to a maximum of $15,000. You can use this rebate to:
- Participate in a global supply chain
- Start the export certification process
- Hire experts for planning, market research and eCommerce development
- Do product research and development
There are four application deadlines per year for this program, which is managed by the Government of Nova Scotia.
The Government of Canada also has grants available to support your efforts.
Use this tool to find federal grants open to you.
Simply choose your province/territory from the list to get started. The easy, fill-in-the-blank system will uncover any grants that are available to you. Once you’ve found one or more good options, follow the instructions to apply.
Related: How to write a business plan simply
2. Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) grants
Have a product you want to develop? This website is a good place to start your search for funds.
ACOA grants were created to help businesses in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador create competitive products. The ACOA provides grants in three categories.
Support to the steel and aluminum sector
The Regional Economic Growth through Innovation Steel and Aluminum Initiative was created in March of 2019. It funds small businesses that supply aluminum and steel here in Canada. The initiative focuses on businesses that need financial support to bring innovative products to market.
Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI)
REGI helps small business owners looking to use technology to:
- Handle more work in a cost-effective manner.
- Achieve greater productivity.
- Improve their global competitiveness.
- Enter new markets.
REGI hopes to boost regional innovation and increase the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises, women entrepreneurs and under-represented groups.
Women Entrepreneurship Fund
The Women Entrepreneurship Fund provides up to $100,000 in a single grant, to be funded over 12 months. This fund seeks to encourage women-owned or women-led businesses to pursue:
- Market opportunities abroad (international marketing strategy, supply chain integration, etc).
- Expansion and growth (product/service development, inventory management, value stream mapping, etc).
Because these are grants, they do not have to be paid back.
3. NRC Industrial Research Assistance
If you own a small to medium size business and have ideas to innovate in the science and technology fields, take a look at the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program.
NRC will provide an advisor to help you submit your funding proposal.
If your proposal is approved, the NRC will share the costs of your R&D project activities. Support could include both the funds to hire employees and advice to help guide you on your entrepreneurial journey.
The loan option
Don’t qualify for any grants? You might find the business funds you need in a loan.
With a loan you must repay the full amount — with interest — in a given timeframe. Lenders make a profit off loans, so you could find many competing for your business.
But the place to start your loan search is the Canada Small Business Financing Program. This government-sponsored program makes it much easier for entrepreneurs to get loans from the banking institutions within our country. How? The government shares the risk with the lending institution, in turn reducing their risk.
To be eligible for this program, your business must be for-profit and have gross revenue less than $10-million. A business owner could qualify for up to $1 million in loans to start up or expand a business.
The government has limitations on how these funds can be used by the business, including:
- Working capital
Follow the link above for a video and checklists to guide you through the process of applying.
Start or grow your Nova Scotia business
The above are a few options for small business grants in Nova Scotia. Although applying for a grant takes some time, it’s worth it because you do not have to pay anyone back.
When choosing the best option for your business, read the fine print so you know exactly what’s expected in exchange for the grant. This could be just the boost your business needs!
UPDATE: This post was originally published on 16 April 2019 and was updated on 21 April 2020.