Funding opportunities for young entrepreneurs May 22, 2012 RICCentre Funding opportunities for young entrepreneurs By: The Funding Portal (Canada’s largest source of public funding programs) When searching for financing, many businesses turn to Canada’s largest and most recognizable funding instruments, including bank loans and government-administered tax incentives, but specialized funding options also exist for specific types of entrepreneurs, such as those aged in their twenties or early thirties. The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) offers some of the country’s most interesting funding and mentoring programs for aspiring entrepreneurs. The CYBF’s Start-up Program provides entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 34 with coaching and up to $45,000 in start-up funding. This program is particularly attractive for those launching their first business, as applicants are selected based on their character rather than collateral, and assistance is provided to create a business plan. Young entrepreneurs should also look into competitions and awards, such as the Spin Master Innovation Fund, administered by the CYBF and Spin Master Ltd. In its second year, the fund selects up to 10 innovative young entrepreneurs to pitch their business and become eligible to receive up to $50,000 in start-up financing. The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) also offers the BDC Young Entrepreneur Award, where young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 35 are invited to submit a short video on innovation projects for their business. The first prize is $100,000 to implement the project, while second place offers $25,000 to develop a custom Internet strategy with assistance from experts from BDC Consulting. Although the call for submissions is already closed for this year, Canadians are invited to vote on the finalists’ videos between May 30 and June 19, and the winners will be announced on June 25. One contest for which it’s not too late to send in an application is the TELUS Challenge, administered by TELUS and the CYBF. Seven young entrepreneurs will be awarded up to $150,000 to launch and grow their businesses. To participate in the competition, entrepreneurs are invited to write about the biggest challenge their business currently faces, and how receiving the grant could help overcome it. The deadline for applications is May 28, 2012. Young entrepreneurs should also look at programs and awards available on the provincial and local levels, such as the Alberta Chambers of Commerce’s Youth Entrepreneur Award of Distinction, the Northern Ontario Young Entrepreneur program, and Montreal’s Fondation du maire: le Montréal inc. de demain. Another promising route for young entrepreneurs is to join a business incubator or accelerator, which often offer mentoring and other resources, and in some cases, start-up funding.