Survey Results #6:
More survey respondents offer programs and services aimed at entrepreneurship than for agri-food or immigrants. These 69 responses are the focus of today’s post, which includes highlights of responses from the organizations that self-identified as offering specific programs or supports/resources for entrepreneurs.
The most common types of offerings are the service bundles offered by Small Business Enterprise Centres (SBECs) and Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs). (For details about these organizations, see my April 22 blog post.) There is some variation across organizations, but in general they offer youth programs, one-on-one advising supports and information for entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, mentoring, workshops, and sometimes the Ontario Self-Employment Benefit [OSEB] program (Employment Ontario/Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities) for individuals on EI assistance. Workshops are often presented by local experts with years of knowledge and experience in their field and may cover a wide array of topics from the basics of starting a business, to marketing for small business, to social media workshops, and more.
Individuals on social assistance may have access to Ontario Works self-employment supports (Ministry of Community and Social Services).
Programs commonly include Summer Company for students looking to run a summer business (Summer Company Guide – 2014), the similar Starter Company for non-student youth 18-29, and partnerships with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation now called Futurpreneur Canada.
ACCESS TO CAPITAL
Numerous respondents provide business financing in various forms, most commonly as part of an CFDC. For example, the Business Help Centre of Middlesex County, a CFDC, offers small business loans to new and expanding businesses.
One respondent alluded to
a micro-loan program in which low income entrepreneurs who have a business or plan would benefit from accessing up to $5,000 in micro-finance.
Chambers of Commerce provide networking opportunities in most Ontario communities, and other business to business (B2B) networking events exist as well, sometimes through sector councils or in the private sector. Find the Chamber of Commerce nearest you!
BUSINESS INCUBATORS/ACCELERATORS and COLLABORATIVE HUBS
BioEnterprise is a business accelerator and commercialization agent, established to help promote the creation, growth and expansion of businesses engaged in Agri-Technologies. BioEnterprise has been based in Guelph for the past 10 years and encourages innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sector across Ontario and Canada. One of its funders is Ontario’s Growing Forward 2 (GF2), which is one of many components of a comprehensive federal-provincial-territorial funding framework.
In Haliburton, The County Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce are starting a Rural Small Business Incubator program for the Creative Industry. This will provide mentorship, support and office space to small or micro businesses. Haliburton is closely linked with Agri-Business.
Many colleges and universities have their own entrepreneurship centres as well, for example Conestoga College Centre for Entrepreneurship.
A novel idea has just been tested in Uxbridge. WIN THIS SPACE, an initiative of the Uxbridge Business Improvement Area (BIA), is an open competition for business ideas. The Grand Prize Winners receives $12,000 ($1000 per month) towards their first year’s lease of a commercial SPACE in Uxbridge, plus thousands of dollars of in-kind professional services from local sponsors.
The Ontario Exporters Fund is a grant program under the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. It is designed to assist Ontario businesses to develop focused export programs with the assistance of an Export Manager.
HIGH GROWTH POTENTIAL
For firms with significant growth potential may wish to access the Ontario Centres of Excllence and its collaborative network of organizations across Ontario via the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs. These were designed to help entrepreneurs, businesses and researchers commercialize their ideas by providing a comprehensive suite of programs and services across the full commercialization continuum from idea to market by connecting with an expert. Online resources such as the MaRS Toolkit Workshops (Training for Entrepreneurs) are thorough, professional, and free!
SPECIFIC TO AGRI-FOOD
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s Business Development Branch, to help grow Ontario’s food and beverage processing business, provides at no cost to businesses and industry associations in the agri-food value chain
- the knowledge to help companies make better business decisions
- the connections to help companies maximize their opportunities for growth and development
- The resources to keep companies current in a competitive environment.
MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD and MINISTRY OF RURAL AFFAIRS
Sarah Wayland, Principal Investigator