Published On: Thursday, 08 February 2018

Funding Sources for New/Growing Okanagan Businesses

Funding Sources for New/Growing Okanagan Businesses

Starting a business? Need capital? To help Okanagan entrepreneurs, Accelerate Okanagan has produced a summary of investment support programs that may be available to help tech companies start and grow.

Programs and resources are constantly changing, but the following are the key resources and most widely-used options.


The most popular non-repayable resource is the National Resource Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). IRAP provides financial support to qualified Canadian small and medium sized businesses to help them with innovative technology.

In order to qualify for IRAP, the company must be a for-profit incorporated Canadian business. Additionally, the company must be established to grow and generate profits through development and commercialization of innovative, technology-driven new or improved products, services, or processes in Canada.

IRAP Projects help support technical people building prototypes and solving problems. Grants can range between $10,000 to $1,000,000. IRAP projects pay up to 65 per cent of overhead, up to 80 per cent of the salary for employees on the project, and up to 50 per cent of the cost for consultants on the project. IRAP also offers advisory services, market intelligence, and patent searches.


Another important resource for businesses in the Southern Interior is the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust (SIDIT).  SIDIT supports regionally strategic investments in economic development projects that will have long-lasting and measurable regional benefits for the Southern Interior.

SIDIT’s funding is not a grant. It was created to support eligible projects with a loan or equity investment. SIDIT projects are subject to principal and interest repayment, security terms, and conditions as applicable. Applicants must include a business plan, financial statements, shareholders structure, and estimated financials.

For municipalities, regional districts, First Nations, registered non-profit societies, institutions, and industry associations, SIDIT offers a grant program to support regionally strategic investments in economic development projects that will have long-lasting and measurable regional benefits for the Southern Interior.

Futurpreneur, Community Futures Business Corporation, Women’s Enterprise Centre

For general business loans, look into Futurpreneur for entrepeneurs under 40; Community Futures for everyone; and the Women's Enterprise Centre for female entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39 may find Futurpreneur is the right program. They offer pre-launch coaching, start-up financing, mentoring, and business resources. Working with local community lenders, their loans are unsecured, carry low interest financing, and offer up to $15,000 in start-up financing. Applicants could even receive up to twice the approved amount through partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

Instead of collateral, Futurpreneur focuses on character when assessing eligibility for financial support. Funding can be used for major purchases, business transition or acquisition, and working capital.

Entrepreneurs of any age who are having trouble securing a loan from traditional financial institutions will want to check out Community Futures Business Corporation, which provides entrepreneurs with small business loans up to $150,000.

Their business loans, which are granted by a committee comprised of community volunteers, are available for new business start-ups, business expansion, or to stabilize an existing business.

Community Futures also has a self-employment program which is funded by the Province of BC. It provides income support, business skills development workshops, one-on-one mentoring, and counselling.

For female entrepreneurs who own at least 51 per cent of a business and who need a great rate on a loan, the Women’s Enterprise Centre’s Business Loans Program is a good option. Women’s Enterprise Centre offers small business loans up to $150,000 to women-owned businesses in BC. Loans can be used to help start, enhance, or grow the business. To learn more, meet the team at one of the information sessions held every two weeks.

Online Support Services for Entrepeneurs

Use Fundica to save time and money when searching for business financing. This free online tool matches entrepreneurs with smart, comprehensive and up-to-date funding. Find and filter your best funding sources at the click of a mouse.

Fundica has changed the way Canadian businesses find funding with their proprietary search tool and software that matches Canadian entrepreneurs with grants, tax credits, loans and equity. It filters by exact location, company size, sector and many other criteria, to make sure small business owners are getting the exact kind of funding partner they’re looking for.

Fundica’s database covers over 90 per cent of the government and institutional private sector direct funding programs/products available to Canadian businesses.

Fundica was founded by a team of funding experts in 2010, after years of experience helping entrepreneurs find financing from public and private sources. The people behind Fundica are computer science, tax, finance and funding professionals who have collectively raised over $75 million of government and private funding, and have over 50 years combined experience in funding Canadian businesses. This means that they have strong working relationships with and an in-depth understanding of public and private funding sources.

Innovation Canada Digital Platform

There are hundreds of programs and services designed to help businesses create jobs, innovate, and grow which can include anything from funding to expert advice to building connections and more.

Based on the needs of the company and the supports needed, the Innovation Canada Digital Platform can help connect a business to the best possible matching opportunities. This platform is helping to amalgamate the data and resources while also helping programs and services find the best possible clients so that service providers can maximize the impact that they are having.

By visiting the website and answering a few questions about the business and requirements, the platform will filter the database to unearth appropriate services/funding.

Access to Capital Program

One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is access and management of capital. The 12-week Access to Capital Program is an educational program that strives to provide access to capital and a capital ecosystem community in the Okanagan. The program pairs growing companies with a skilled Entrepeneur-in-Residence who can educate and help company leaders focus on the capital raising process, valuation, due diligence, and pitch prep.

In addition, Accelerate Okanagan offers public education events on diverse topics around access to capital. This education is aimed at both entrepreneurs and investors, with the goal of providing a highly curated, private approach to matching investors and entrepreneurs.

For more information, visit the Accelerate Okanagan website.