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Angels in the Canadian Government

There just isn’t that much free money out there. In most instances, if you can find someone who wants to invest in your venture, you’re going to have to give up a healthy chunk of ownership in exchange; not a pretty deal if you truly believe that your venture will succeed.

The Canadian Government (bless them) has an excellent program for individuals like me who want to throw their sweat equity into the venture, and do not want to be drained emotionally by thoughts of missing rent/mortgage payments, and not being able to provide milk to your kids!

This gem of a programme is the HRDSC ‘self employment’ program. You can read more about it HRSDC site and the About.com Canadian Small Business site.

There are a couple of very compelling aspects to this programme

  • You receive feedback from expert evaluators. This is the same process you would need to go through with a VC or with the more careful angels, without the disadvantage of dealing with their neurosis and negotiation+posturing games.
  • The money is given in the form of a grant. This means that you do not need to give it back. Compared to the 22% interest rate from a BDC loan, this is incredibly better.
  • You are provided mentorship and are given access to resources that can help you fill in the gaps in your knowledge.
  • Any money you make can be reinvested in the business without having taxes taken out.

What makes this program so outstanding is the level of support provided. Participants not only get help in creating a business plan for a viable business, but receive income support while they do it – for up to a year (or up to 78 weeks for a person with a disability). You have to be Employment Insurance eligible to apply, so getting a layoff notice is probably one of the best things that could happen to you, eh?

If you consider this program, the existence of CRA SR&ED, the OCE First Job Programme, and the MITAC ACCELERATE programme, I’d say that Canada has provided more than sufficient support for individuals who want to create a high-technology startup.

  1. mk
    June 25th, 2009 at 10:29 | #1

    This is great to know. Thanks for sharing.

  2. June 25th, 2009 at 13:06 | #2

    @kemal having a vote of approval from someone way more entrepreneurial than me is very heart-warming. Thank you for the kind words.

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