When I first arrived to Canada, one of the things that I was most amazed by was the willingness of Canadians to help you get started once you knock on a few doors. However, as a new immigrant, knowing WHERE to knock can be intimidating and confusing.
Depending on what your business idea is, finding the group of people that share the same passion of entrepreneurship is key to get you through the parts of the journey where you are ready to give up. Some of these places offer drop-in clinics, free educational seminars, shared office space and even shared commercial kitchen space.
Entrepreneurship in a developing country can be very competitive and cut throat (ok, even in developed countries) however, I have to give it to Canada that the willingness to help is very much alive.
Personally, I have visited places in Ottawa such as Collab Space and Invest Ottawa and have benefitted from the environment of sharing knowledge, resources and ideas. If you are in the food industry, think of shared kitchen space such as Cauldron Kitchen or the Ottawa Incubator Kitchen. And believe it or not, local libraries are also a good resource as they often have seminars and panel discussions on entrepreneurship - these ones usually happen in the larger, central libraries.
If you are stuck, a simple Google search with the words "sharing entrepreneurs <insert your city>" will provide a good starting point.
Have you used other collaborating services that have helped you grow your business? Is there a specific industry you are looking to start a business in?
Securing business financing as a new immigrant in Canada is one of the toughest problems in the journey of becoming an entrepreneur. The lack of credit history and the limited net worth most of us arrive with is a big hurdle to jump. Thankfully, institutions are slowly realizing that more efforts are needed to provide out-of-the-box thinking on financing programs aimed at newcomer entrepreneurs. The picture is changing with a handful of viable options.
Futurpreneur Canada Newcomer Program
If you are a newcomer to Canada between the ages of 18 and 39, have limited credit history and a viable business/business plan, you can apply for a $7,500 repayable loan to start a business. This repayable loan amount can potentially be matched by BDC for a total of $15,000. All applications are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and require the following:
Micro lending for Women in Ontario Program
This funding program is available to women entrepreneurs facing low income challenges in certain areas of Ontario. Women in those areas are able to apply to a local program provider where they offer business training and micro-loans. The loans can range from $5,000-$15,000. This program is not exclusive to newcomer women, however, newcomer applications are welcomed and encouraged.
BDC's Small Business Loan for New Canadians
This repayable loan of up to $50,000 is available to newcomers with an entrepreneurial drive and a solid business plan. The repayment is spread over a four years without capital payment for up to 12 months. No personal assets are taken as collateral for the loan and borrowers can pay off the loan in part or in full at any time without penalty. Are you eligible?
This is just a small example of on-traditional immpreneur-specific loans available in Canada. If your have been in Canada for longer than five years, have worked on your credit history and have a strong business plan, the Canada Small Business Financing Program is always an option.
For many other options available Canada wide divided by industry, feel free to click here.
Recommendations from the report included:
As an established or aspiring immigrant entrepreneur, what other recommendations would accelerate your success?