Guide To Service Providers 101: SBECs & CFDCs

Small Business Enterprise Centres [SBECs] and Community Futures Development Corporations [CFDCs]

This post does refer to the survey but these are not actually ‘survey results’!

This post is the first of a Blog Series “Guide to Service Providers 101. These posts will be interspersed among the blogs on the Survey Results.

Providers and immigrant entrepreneurs have asked:

“What are the differences between SBECs and CFDCs? This is not crystal clear as some SBECs are located in small communities.”

I realize there are two sets of funders at work so perhaps the distinction is not always clear.

As described in an earlier post, many types of organizations responded to our recent service provider survey.  Today’s post describes two types of organizations that could be useful to immigrant business owners and those wishing to start a business: CFDCs and SBECs.  These organizations offer services with a physical presence (not just a website), with multiple locations in various communities across the province. (Some information below is copied directly from the links indicated.)




Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) are usually located in smaller communities and focus more on rural businesses. They offer a wide variety of programs and services supporting community economic development and small business growth, including:

  • Strategic community planning and socio-economic development
  • Support for community-based projects
  • Business information and planning services
  • Access to capital for small- and medium-sized businesses and social enterprises (NOTE: Access to capital is a rare service offering!)

There are 61 CFDCs in Ontario — FedDev Ontario works with the 37 CFDCs in rural Eastern and Southern Ontario, and FedNor works with the 24 organizations in the North. These are funded by the Government of Canada.

You can search for the CFDC nearest to you with the map found on this link:

These community-based, not-for-profit organizations are staffed by professionals and are each governed by local volunteer boards of directors familiar with their communities’ needs, concerns and future development priorities.



Small Business Enterprise Centres (SBECs) The Ontario government, along with federal and municipal counterparts, as well as leading private-sector companies have joined forces to support SBECs across the province.  This network of offices throughout the province can provide you with wide-ranging resources, including:

  • one-on-one consulting on business planning, market analysis, e-business, exporting and much more
  • workshops, seminars and on-line training
  • guidance on rules and regulations, licensing and business registrations
  • access to the latest technologies, including Internet databases for research and planning

Other services provided by SBECs may include:  business registrations, business consulting,    follow up mentoring, business plan assistance, financial documentation, resource centres, and    use of on-line terminals.

Click here for locations.




CFDC, SBEC, or both?

Any given geographic location in Ontario is normally covered by either a CFDC or an SBEC. Some areas are fortunate to be covered by both, Niagara Falls for example. The South Niagara Community Futures Development Corporation is located in Port Colbourne and services the municipalities of Port Colborne, Wainfleet, Fort Erie and Niagara Falls. The Niagara Falls Small Business Enterprise Centre offers seminars, research supports, and computer work stations in Niagara Falls.

The main advantage that CFDCs have over SBECs is access to capital. One of the most common requests to SBECs that they are not able to accommodate is the request for capital.  However, many SBECs do administer programs such as Canada Youth Business Foundation which provide access to capital for certain populations such as “youth” or “newcomer youth” (up to age 39).


Next Guide to Service Providers 101 post:  Economic Development departments/corporations



Sarah V Wayland
Sarah Wayland, Principal Investigator

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