Canadian government announces $50 million program to help SMBs with global export

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Last year, CIBC released a slightly ominous report, noting that Canadian small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), while responsible for 80 percent of private sector jobs, must look to global export markets in the U.S. and Europe to stay competitive. At the time of the report, only 10 percent of SMBs did so, a number which hasn’t changed in 15 years.

Ninety-nine percent of all Canadian businesses are small or medium-sized.

SMBs that might feel they don’t have enough resources may find solace in the federal government’s new CanExport program. Officially announced today at the Communitech hub in Kitchener-Waterloo, the program will provide $50 million to help Canadian SMBs explore export markets. CanExport will provide companies with matching contributions of between $10,000 and $100,000 toward export development costs, with the hope of benefiting hundreds of companies over the next five years.

“I’m thrilled to begin 2016 with this new program that is a key part of our strategy to help Canadian companies succeed abroad,” said Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade. “This program will enable small businesses in Canada to explore new opportunities, giving them an advantage in competitive and potentially lucrative new markets, while creating good-quality jobs at home.”

To be eligible for the program, companies must employ fewer than 250 employees and have annual revenue in Canada between $200,000 and $50 million. The activities that can be funded must promote export development and go beyond an applicant’s core activities, as well as represent new or expanded initiatives, and include travel, participation at trade fairs, market research, adaptation of marketing tools for new markets, and legal fees associated with distribution and representation agreements.

As ninety-nine percent of all Canadian businesses are small or medium-sized — with Canadian startups becoming a growing part of this statistic — the funding will, hopefully, help founders of small businesses reach more ambitious goals for company growth.

“CanExport is part of our plan to support small businesses that are seeking to become more productive, more innovative and more export-oriented,” said Minister of Small Business and Tourism Bardish Chagger. “With this program, which is part of Canada’s trade strategy, we want to make it easier for small businesses to take advantage of government financing and export-oriented supports.”

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang is BetaKit's News Editor. Follow her on Twitter @jessicagalangg or send her pitches to jessica.galang@betakit.com.