We often get entrepreneurs and business owners coming to us looking for money and while Muskoka Futures has money we can lend them, the first question they ask is how to access free money. The answer to that question is that free money generally does not exist, especially in the amounts or terms they expect.
Not wanting you to feel defeated there are some programs out there that help, but free is a matter of opinion. Governments of all branches do provide programs to help businesses, but they do not come with “no-strings attached”. Government funding for businesses can take several forms:
- investment matching programs where the applicant must invest an equal or some percentage of the overall funds needed;
- attractive, below market, interest rates and flexible, extended repayment terms; or
- performance based forgivable contributions combined with repayable funds.
Other programs may require a specific time commitment or are competitive processes that do not guarantee your success in the end. These programs often have a relatively low financial cap typically not much more than $7500. The other factor to consider is that many of these programs have specific eligibility requirements and are very focused in the types of costs that are eligible.
If you are not afraid of the competition and are not beyond working for it, there are two local programs to highlight. The first is Starter Company Plus, run by the Muskoka Small Business Centre and meant for new entrepreneurs. This program requires a three month time commitment during which you participate in required in-class time and a mentoring program while building your business plan. At the end of the three months you present to a Grant Committee who then award grants of up to $5000. For help with this program, please contact Sammi Turchet at Muskoka Small Business Centre - [email protected] or 705-646-9021.
The second program is the BEAM 4 delivered by the Parry Sound Muskoka Community Network (PMCN). This is a granting program to help support the development of a website or other technology into your business. It is a matched funding grant with a cap of $7500, and is a competitive process also requiring the presentation of a business plan. For help with this program please reach out to Shannan Boothby at PMCN at [email protected] or 705.646.9044 or visit www.pmcn.ca/beam for more details.
If your business is involved in manufacturing, research and development, or innovation, there are programs available through government agencies such as FedNor and the Eastern Ontario Development Fund that may support a percentage of project costs. These programs, offered by different levels of government, provide varying contribution levels and requirements. While Muskoka Futures is not directly involved in these programs, we do assist businesses to prepare their applications.
In terms of our own investment program, Muskoka Futures invests in new, existing or expanding businesses within the District of Muskoka. We aim to empower and encourage entrepreneurs to succeed by offering experienced guidance in addition to financial assistance in their ventures. We do this by offering flexible investments that are unique for each business’ individual needs. Our investments can be used for Leasehold Improvements, Building Improvements, Equipment, Training, Technology, Operating costs and more. We recognize that your business is unique and offer unique solutions tailored to your needs.
Getting started is very straightforward, just give us a call to introduce yourself and your business. We will meet with you to ensure we understand your opportunity and determine how we can assist. To proceed, you will need to complete our application form (recently streamlined) and submit your business plan and cash flow forecast. Don’t worry if you don’t have these completed, we can help you with that too.
Ultimately, the goal of our investments is to help you succeed and create jobs in Muskoka. Our investments are truly community investments as your repayment goes back into our investment fund to support the next entrepreneur.
It often seems daunting looking for, or asking for money, but if you prepare yourself fully, understand your business, and do your research, there are options out there. Reach out to us at Muskoka Futures and we will do our very best to connect you to the programs and services that best suit your needs. Whether those services are ours, or someone else’s, the goal is always to see business in Muskoka succeed - that’s why our tag line is “Helping Business Thrive”.
345 Ecclestone Drive, Bracebridge, ON P1L 1R1
705.646.9511 or Toll-Free 1.800.414.6570