Alberta Government Funding Guide For Small Business
Alberta heavily relies on small business and entrepreneurship to boost the economy, to increase the employment rate and to bring money into the local communities.
In order to achieve success, the local and provincial government of Alberta provide small businesses with funding options to ensure business owners have what they need to cover their startup or expansion costs.
Doing so, ensures success of small businesses Alberta wide.
While there are a number of government funding agencies in Alberta, the majority of them don’t promote themselves.
In other words, they are a bit difficult to locate, and quite a bit of red tape is there to be able to find them, get the info from them and to apply to them.
This at no fault of their own is unfortunately how it works.
These funding agencies don’t spend money to promote themselves as they prefer to allocate the available funds toward funding individuals and businesses in need.
With that in mind, business owners, unless they know where to look and what to look for, unfortunately end up not finding the funds they need.
Time to change all of that!
Why does the Alberta government provide funding?
Before starting any sort of funding search for your small business, it is important to understand how government funding really works.
Not necessarily for your business in terms of how you would use the funds, but in terms of the government and why they actually provide funds to small businesses.
There is a major misconception when it comes to government funding.
These misconceptions include comments such as:
- government funding doesn’t exist
- government funding is a scam
- there are no programs for anyone
- you have to be making a million to be eligible
- government funding is only for large corporations/manufacturers
The various misconceptions do start from somewhere and it’s important to understand why; however, none that are listed above are accurate.
The Alberta government provides funding to small business in and around Alberta.
They do this in the form of government grants, government loans, tax breaks and tax credits. This is done in order to boost the Alberta economy. It is done so that you, living in Alberta can have the type of life you have.
Think about it – if the government, who really runs the economy doesn’t put any money into it – what do you think your quality of life would be like?
The way it all comes together…
The Alberta government works with the federal government to come up with money.
This money comes from taxes (incomes, properties, sales tax..etc), comes from investments and various government run activities.
These funds then end up in a “government bank account” sort of.
From there, various government agencies and officials look around the Alberta economy and determine what more is needed – in other words, they look to see how they can bring more money into the economy (revenue), while ensuring the economy is growing.
They may say things like, the manufacturing sector needs to increase in Alberta by “x %” this year, so let’s allocate a specific amount of funding towards that.
Perhaps the real estate market needs to grow, the tech sector, medical industries…etc
Whatever the government sees fit, this is what they put the money towards.
Luckily, majority of small businesses fit into the various industries that the government likes to invest in – which means, more money, more funding for you!
From there, the government allocated these funds to the various agencies who will be responsible in disbursing the funds to the appropriate sources (you and your small business) in order to meet the growth expectations.
You apply for these programs from these funding agencies and if you’re eligible, you get the funds.
These funds that you get are then used towards growing your business within that specific sector. This can mean spending the money to hire staff, to train employees, to pay to ensure your success – to grow your revenue.
Ultimately if you’ve grown your business well enough, you are paying more taxes (giving back), you are hiring (the taxes are giving back) and you are boosting the economy in that way.
The let’s say $10,000 in funding that the government of Alberta provided you for your small business, over time turns to 10k, which turns to 12k and 15k, year after year.
A smart investment.
The earlier mentioned misconceptions are a problem for a lot of people.
government funding doesn’t exist
The Alberta government provides funds to the eligible business owners. These funds may not be for everyone, but they are there to help the economy grow. The same economy that paves the roads, keeps hospitals open, school running…etc
government funding is a scam
While there are scams associated with government funding, any funds provided via government sources are not scams. However, it is important to ensure that when you apply for funding, you are applying with the Alberta government directory.
there are no programs for anyone
As there are many funding agencies in Alberta and federal agencies that provide funding across Canada, there are always programs available.
However, the eligibility of these programs depends on many factors. While not everyone can get funding, it is important to read the various eligibility criteria of each program before coming to that decision.
Keep in mind that thousands of businesses each year get government funding from the Canadian federal government and Alberta provincial government
you have to be making a million to be eligible
There are certain programs which fund only those businesses that have a revenue over a million dollars, however not all programs are made in such a way.
It is important to review all available options before coming to a decision that you are not eligible.
government funding is only for large corporations/manufacturers
The various government funding programs available in Alberta and across Canada are for everyone.
Majority of funding programs are made for startup businesses, for those expanding as well as for large corporations and manufactures. Certain programs fund businesses such as nail salons, day cares, car dealerships, retail stores, construction companies and larger manufacturers as well.
Keep your mind open and don’t believe all you hear about government funding, until you are for sure!
Now that you’re aware why the government funds businesses in Alberta, and you understand how it works – let’s move on to the next step and learn about the different government funding program types and what is best for you and your business.
Government funding types
Find all available government funding options using the Funding Calculator Tool right here.
The Alberta government works with small business owners, helping them startup, to expand and to grow their businesses.
These funds are available in various forms and support the business owners’ various expenses which they may have. These expenses are often associated with the startup costs, expansion costs or costs needed to grow the business further, and ones which you as the business owner have a tough time putting together on your own.
While there are multiple types of government programs, the majority fit into the 3 of the most popular categories.
- government grants
- government loans
- tax breaks or tax credits.
Government grants are often what one thinks of when discussing government funding, and that is what we will focus on today as we discuss and help you understand the 3 main types of government grants available to Alberta small business owners.
Keep in mind that while government grants are available, they are not always available for all business businesses or all business funding needs. It is always important to speak to a funding expert before you decide to apply for any government grant programs.
Top 3 Government Grant Types for Small Business Owners in Alberta
While government grants are often referred to as just “grants”, as in “free money”; there are different types of government grants one should know about. These include:
- Non repayable government grants
- partial contribution grants
- conditionally repayable grants
Each government grant is different, has different criteria and qualification. In most cases these government grants have their own guidelines one must follow before even becoming eligible.
Non Repayable Government Grants
The non repayable government grants are often the best type of government grant a business owner in Alberta can get.
These grants are exactly as they sound – non repayable.
Meaning, the money you obtain from this type of grant program does not need to be paid back – unlike a loan.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can just use the funds for anything you want – instead, these government grant types fund very specific needs a business may have and are provided based on those needs (as long as you’re eligible). If the funds are used otherwise, the government may ask for the funds back.
Partial Contribution Government Grants
The partial contribution government grants are great options, much like the non repayable government grants as you in most cases won’t have to pay the grant back however the “partial contribution” part of it asks that you provide funds of your own as well in order to qualify.
Sort of like a partnership.
If you need $100,000 , the government may give you $50,000 to use towards your funding needs as a non repayable grant but requires that you put the other $50,000 in on your own.
The partial contribution percentage may vary from business to business.
Conditionally Repayable Government Grants
The conditionally repayable government grants are ultimately free money however they have conditions placed upon them. These conditions can often be negotiated and initially at looking at the grant program, it may be unclear what these conditions are.
At times they can include things such as:
- No repayment of the grant until profitable
- Partial repayment after 3 years of profitability
- Only repay 10% of the total grant
These conditions are placed on the grant agency and between the business itself and is something to consider and definitely negotiate.
When it comes to finding out which government grants you may be eligible for which are offered by the Alberta government and via the various Canadian government funding agencies, it is a good idea to speak to a funding expert.
Government loans are often the most popular funding programs that business owners in Alberta can take advantage of.
While they are not as good as obtaining free, non repayable grants, they are much easier to obtain and are more readily available via more and more agencies across Alberta and the rest of Canada.
That being said, government loans are often much different than the traditional bank loans and they include different government loan types as well. These include:
- Low Interest Government Loans
- No Interest Government Loans
- Government Guaranteed Loans
- Conditionally Repayable Government Loans
While you may shy away from government loans, simply as they are seen as “debt” within your business, if you need the funds to startup, to expand and to grow your small business in Alberta, government loan options are very beneficial.
So, let’s take a look at each of the government loan types in more detail.
Low Interest Government Loans
While there are various types of government loans available, low interest government loans are often the most accessible types.
They are just like bank loans, they work the exact same way, however, often have lower interest rates and better repayment terms.
It is important to stay up to date on all available Alberta low interest loans offered via government in order to better understand how they can help your small business.
Keep in mind that in many cases, even the Alberta government may refer you to your local bank to benefit from these types of programs – however don’t confuse this with a bank loan as the government must refer you in order to get the special benefits associated with the “government” offer.
No Interest Government Loans
Like a traditional loan, however without interest – No interest government loans are typically very well desired, however least available across Alberta.
The no interest government loans fund very specific business purposes such as funds to purchase equipment, pay for marketing…etc.
These funds, once approve are provided to you just like any other loan, however when paying back you will be required to pay back the same amount you borrowed, without interest attached – making the loan payable much faster and easier.
Government Guaranteed Loans
Securing a government guaranteed loan is very helpful to any small business in Alberta.
This type of loan is provided to businesses across Canada via various funding agencies in hopes to help you build your business up. The “guaranteed” portion of the loan should not be confused with everyone being eligible to get it – it is not a guaranteed loan that you can get no matter what.
Instead, a government guaranteed loan is a loan where the government is your guarantor, or co-signer. This also has many benefits for you as this means that you as the business owner may be able to get a loan that without a co-signer or a guarantor you would not be able to otherwise. It also means that the government is on the hook for payment if something was to go wrong.
While you may be responsible for a certain percentage of the loan, the government is technically your partner and will be required to guarantee the payment or a percentage of the payment back.
Conditionally Repayable Government Loans
The conditionally repayable government loans, much like the conditionally repayable government grants are loan programs provided across Alberta to small business owners in need of funds.
This funding option requires you as the business owner to accept various conditions where you and the government agency in question can negotiate the best condition for the loan.
These conditions can vary from program to program, but generally they are negotiable in terms of the payback amount, time frame of the loan, minimum payments, the interest rate..etc
Government loans are in many ways better than any government grant program, simply due to the fact that they are more available, easier to obtain and the conditions surrounding the application process is much quicker.
If funds are needed for you to help you start or expand your business in Alberta, the various types of government loans are definitely something to consider.
A very special, often forgotten government funding program that many businesses in Alberta simply end up skipping over are tax breaks and tax credit programs.
While there is a lot of funding available for businesses across Alberta, this type of funding often is something one would apply after you’ve already spent the funds.
In most cases, this is why these programs are not as popular when starting up, as majority of businesses need the funds initially; however for those who do end up finding the funds needed for various expenses ,tax breaks and tax credits is something you can apply for to get some of those invested funds back during tax season!
Certain programs can help provide you a refund towards your staffing needs, property costs, research and development costs as well as lower the following years dues.
While they may not be favourable initially, tax break/tax credit programs are something you should not skip over.
Is government funding for you
As a small business in Alberta, you may consider government funding options to help you startup or to expand.
While government funding is available for many business owners, across all industries, you do have to determine if obtaining government funding is right for you.
Borrowing money in general puts your business at risk in terms of having to pay back the funds.
This is no different from government loan programs, bank loans, credit cards, lines of credit…etc
So it’s very important that you determine if obtaining funding in general is something you must do, or if you can do without it.
Funding is available via local government agencies, Alberta government agencies and via various agencies across Canada. These funding programs provide funding for various needs, which we will explain in the next section, but these funds are available in nearly all funding industries.
These industries all often get summed up into the below industries categories:
- Agriculture and Fishing
- Energy and Water
- Manufacturing and Engineering
- Transport, Warehousing and Distribution
- Construction and Property Services
- Biotechnology, Medical and Chemical
- Creative Services and Media
- Professional and Other Business Services
- Consumer Products, Personal Services, Retail and Wholesale
- Recreation, Culture and Tourism
- Hotels and Restaurants
- Information Technology and Telecom
While funds are available for all businesses within the above mentioned categories and those that slightly fit within them, it is important to determine via funding experts if these funding options available in Alberta and across Canada will be right for your specific business model or not.
If you are a small business owner either considering starting up a small business in Alberta, or are expanding your existing business, government funding may be an option for you to consider
In addition to that, if you are in need of funds from a third party (other than personal funds, family, friends or local banks), government funding options are a great way to succeed.
Figure out what you need to qualify and give us a call at 1-800-288-9691
When considering funding options for your business it is important to note that each government funding agency has it’s own funding factors.
These factors used in determining eligibility depend on the program, however generally the ones that may be considered include:
- Your business model
- The industry you are in
- The location of the business
- The specific funding needs you have
- The amount of funding needed
- Your age, gender, partners
- Credit score, investment level, available cash on hand
- Time of the year applications are done
- The details of the business plan
If the above sounds like you or something you are confident in being able to provide and consider, government funding may be right for you so let’s take a look at what government funding can be used towards in the next section.
The big question when it comes to government funding usually starts with “Can I get government funding for ______?”
While government funding is available for a number of purposes a business owner can have when starting up or expanding, they are not to be taken advantage of.
Doing so comes with severe penalties that should be avoided at all costs
Government funding is generally available to help a business startup or to expand and to cover the costs associated with doing so.
These costs that the various government agencies in Alberta and across Canada cover include:
- Research and Development
- Improve cash flow
- Business set up costs (business plan, feasibility study, market research…etc)
- Consultation and business advice
- Developing a new product or service
- Purchase and improve equipment/tools and supplies
- Purchase land and leasehold improvements
- Hiring and training of staff
- Energy efficiency and the environment
- start or to expand export capabilities
That being said, not every business is eligible for all types of funding and not all funding agencies offer the same funding options.
In most cases, a funding agency will cover one or two of the above-mentioned funding needs so if you as a small business owner require funding for multiple purposes, your best bet may be to apply to multiple programs.
To increase your chances of success in securing government funding for your small business, it is important to break down your funding needs, to show an allocation of need funds per each of the needs and show a time frame or priority list as to when the funds are needed by.
All of these points will play a major role in helping the funding agencies you apply for determine your eligibility.
If you are starting a business in Alberta and need $150,000 to cover all of your startup costs and your business plan shows that you need the $150,000 towards startup costs – you may only be eligible for a few programs.
You have to consider that the funding agency will look at the total amount you need, and the explanation of what you need the funds for. In this case; $150,000 for startup costs.
While it’s not very clear how the funds will be used, the programs you may be eligible for would be the ones that cover “startup costs”.
That being said, if you are to break down those startup costs a bit better and explain something like this: $150,000 for startup costs with a breakdown of $25,000 towards equipment purchase, $75,000 towards staff wages, $10,000 towards marketing and $40,000 towards leasehold improvements; now you’ve really opened doors to multiple funding options.
This may mean you can apply for programs that focus on each of those!
Sure, it may be a bit more work to do all of these applications, but ultimately this is how you increase your chances of securing the funds you need.
Think about it; what happens if you get denied the $150,000 for starting up – is your business done?
But what happens if you are able to get funds for equipment, the funds for staff wages and for marketing, but not leasehold improvements – it may be likely that you can continue!
Again, with many programs in Alberta and across Canada, breaking down your funding needs and properly allocating the funds needed to each of the need and outlining this in your business plan, this will greatly help you.
Important to remember:
When applying for funding, it is important to remember to be truthful and honest in regard to what you need funding for and how much you need.
While sometimes it may be hard to determine how much funding is needed, providing an approximate estimate is fine.
However, if you apply for funding for let’s say “hiring staff”, and you get approved, keep in mind these funds cannot be used for anything else but for hiring staff.
If you are to get $25,000 to hire staff and you spend $20,000 on hiring staff and have $5,000 left over – you can 1) return the $5,000 back to the agency you borrowed from, 2) use it towards your staff wages.
Unfortunately, there is no option to use those $5,000 on anything else – and doing so can result in a funding agency asking for all of the funds back.
A great example that the funding agencies often share is a small business in Alberta asked for $27,000 in funding for marketing expenses. The business was approved with a great marketing plan – however, the funds were used instead to purchase a new work van with a van wrap to promote the business.
While this is still “marketing”, it is not what the business applied for and was approved for. The result, 12 months later was that the agencies did verify how the funds were used, asked for the full $27,000 back, with interest and a hefty penalty applied for trying to cheat the system
It is important to only use the funds for exact purposes you apply for and are approved for.
How much do you need?
When determining to apply for funding via government sources or not you have to be prepared in knowing how much to apply for.
This is often a hard decision to make as you want to make sure you get approved.
So how much funding do you need?
Most of the time, the popular question is “How much funding can I get...”
While the need to know how much a business can get from a government funding agency is important, what is more important is knowing how much you as the business owner need.
This is something you determine based on your business plan.
What are your business needs?
How much do you need in order to launch your business/start your business, expand your business?
A great way to determine how much funding you need is to look at your business plans startup or expansion costs. Any costs you can’t cover on your own, these are the funds you can ask for.
Generally speaking, the various funding agencies provide a range of funds.
Some provide as little as $1,500 while some can fund an on-going million+ if needed.
Again, this really depends on your funding needs, how much you need and on the program that you apply for.
It is important to follow the previously mentioned funding needs breakdown and be able to provide a break down and an allocation of funds for your funding needs. Doing so will allow you to apply to multiple programs and clearly be able to explain how much you need for each of the business activities you need to have covered.
What not to do…
If you are applying for funding via government sources, don’t send in your applications with a per-defined funding amount needed.
This tells the funding agency one thing; that you haven’t done the necessary research needed to start/expand and that you’re not ready.
It is also important to ask for exactly what you need – maybe a bit more. It is a lot better to get a bit more (and be able to return it if unused) then to get too little and not have enough for what you need.
While it would be great to get unlimited amount of money for you to use, asking for a unclear number or something that doesn’t make sense is simply going to get you denied.
A general rule of thumb that funding agencies look at is your projected profits within the first 5 years. If you don’t make enough in the first 5 years to be able to cover the funding needs you ask to have covered, you may not be approved in most cases
An example of this would be asking for $500,000 to purchase equipment for a business that makes a profit of $30,000 per year. The chances of you profiting and being able to pay back all your borrowed money and expenses is not very likely – so perhaps reconsider how much you need in terms of funding.
No different then a mortgage for a house – if you have a job making $20k a year ,you won’t qualify for a mortgage of $500,000 no matter what – even with the market going up and your plan for renovations to improve the value.
Do you have what you need
As a small business owner in Alberta, before you can apply for any government funding programs you will need to ensure you have a few things ready.
- You will need to be registered as a business
This does not mean you have to be active and trading at the time of application, but you do need to have your business registered and the funding application must be a business one.
- You will need to have a detailed business plan
A business plan that explains your business model, the industry you are in, the market, growth potential, shows your financials and clearly explain your funding needs will be a must.
In most cases, government agencies will use the business plan to determine your eligibility so it’s important to ensure you have a solid business plan explaining your business model and your needs. This is the case for startup businesses and for existing businesses as well
- Money in your account
While many funding programs won’t require you to have your own capital to invest, certain programs such as the earlier mentioned partial contributions (which require a deposit of your own), will require that you have this money in your account – often 3 to 6 months earlier to the application submission date.
Aside from these 3 important factors it is important to note that each government funding agency is different, and each funding program is different. This can mean that the requirements of one program can vary from one to another and it’s important to be prepared.
- You must know which program to apply for (based on eligibility criteria)
- You must know how to apply (the application process is critical)
- You must have all of the required documents (which each program will ask for)
- You must be aware of the deadlines (each program may have a different deadline)
Your Business plan/ Your PitchDeck
Getting funding may be critical to your small business in Alberta, so it is important to improve your chances as much as you can before you apply.
This means following the known factors that are critical such as having a detailed business plan and PitchDeck.
Government funding agencies will look at your business plan as the ultimate guide on information about your small business, your needs and the potential you have before they make their decision to invest in you or not.
This makes it critical that you as the business owner have a solid business plan.
A typical business plan can cost between $1,500 to $2,500 to write professionally – but be careful as even those professionally written business plans often miss the important steps that funding agencies want to see.
So, let’s take a look at some of those;
- Introduction to your business
- Your products and services
- The customer
- The market (competition, industry..etc.)
- Marketing plan
- Growth strategy
- Funding needs (explanation of what you need funds for)
- Financial projections (profit/loss statement, cash flow and balance sheet x 3 years)
While these sections may vary from business plan to business plan, the important steps to follow is to include the information that is needed in explaining you business model to the potential funding agencies who may be reviewing your plan.
It is important to note your funding needs in a clear, broken down and very well explained method. If for example you need funding for marketing costs, it is important that your marketing plan is very well explained and detailed.
Any funding needs you have, your plan should make it very clear that this is what you need.
In other words, write your business plan to show that you need funding and how much better you could do if you had the funds!
No plan is the same – some plans are a few pages, while some are a hundred. The important part is to ensure you explain your business model, that you cover the above-mentioned points and that it’s completed.
Keep in mind that no business plan is perfect and that as you develop your business, your business plan should be reflected and updated. Don’t focus too much time on your business plan and forget that your business is not your business plan, you are writing your business plan to start or to expand your business – so focus on it, but get it done!
In addition to having a detailed business plan, many funding agencies in Alberta and across Canada ask to see a visual presentation of the business model. This type of presentation is referred to as a PitchDeck.
A PitchDeck is technically a “power point” style presentation that contains 10 to 15 slides that show your business model in a visual format.
Much like the business plan, the important points to cover in your visual presentation is to include the same slides as the business plan with a focus on the funding needs.
Remember, the funding agencies that will ask to see your PitchDeck presentation are the ones that don’t have a lot of time to read the full plan, so your PitchDeck presentation should be short, brief and straight to the point.
In most cases, a PitchDeck will summarize key points from each section of the business plan and will briefly explain what you want the viewer to see.
Do not try to fit everything into your PitchDeck, as it’s important to remember that the next step after viewing your PitchDeck, the funding agency in question will want to see the full detailed business plan for “more information”.
If you require assistance in developing your business plan or PitchDeck to apply for any funding programs in Alberta, be sure to reach out to a CanadaStartups expert who can guide you via the Business Plan Builder Tool and the Investor PitchDeck.
The Next Step
By now, you may have figured out a few things about government funding options across Canada and in Alberta.
The next step is to start the funding search process.
If you are doing it on your own, it is important to take the time to do it right.
In most cases, if you know where to look, what to look for and you have the time, this process can generally take 4 to 6 weeks.
Keep in mind that while you are in Alberta, it doesn’t mean that the only programs you may be eligible will be just from Alberta government programs. It is important to consider all options, including provincial programs and federal funding programs offered by the Canadian government.
If you are doing it on your own, be sure that your business plan is ready, that you have a solid pitch deck created and that you know exactly what to do.
If however you decide to get professional help such as the service offered by CanadaStartups, you will get the help step by step.
That means, step by step assistance to develop your business plan that is aimed at a funding search, a pitch deck presentation that compliments your business plan and assistance in finding not just Alberta programs but also federal programs which you and your small business may be eligible for.
Since finding the programs is the hardest part aside from the applications, this is what the funding experts at CanadaStartups specialize in – while making it simple to search and find all programs and whole providing you the step by step assistance through the application process.
In a matter that helps you get funds for your business; it is important to not try and do it all yourself and to get professional help if you can. The team at CanadaStartups provides you access to all available funding programs, helps you step by step and are available 24/7 to ensure your success.
SEARCHES RELATED TO ALBERTA FUNDING GUIDE
I WANT START A BUSINESS IN...
IS THERE HELP IN MY INDUSTRY?
- Expansion Capital
- Funding For Equipment
- Business Acquisition Funding
- Consulting Services
- Hiring & Training Staff
- Management Support Services
- Professional and IT Services
- Transportation and Warehousing
- Accommodation and Food Services
- Culture and Recreation
- Finance and Real Estate
- Forestry, Hunting and Fishing
- Health and Social Assistance