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CanExport Program Update: Extra Support for Women, Indigenous and Visible Minorities

Revamped CanExport program goes virtual to help SMEs compete abroad

Canadian businesses are proving their resilience during this time of uncertainty. Funding programs, such as CanExport SMEs, are needed more than ever to help small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) adapt to shifts in the global marketplace and innovate for growth abroad.

Businesswoman using laptop, receiving good news

On November 3rd, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced the revamping of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service’s CanExport SMEs funding program to help even more SMEs amid COVID‑19.

This program offers SMEs up to $75,000 in funding for specific types of expenses to explore new opportunities to sell their products and services outside of Canada. The new changes take into consideration the evolving activities businesses are investing in during the pandemic.

SMEs and entrepreneurs can now apply for project funding toward the following business activities:

  • E‑commerce: Digital is becoming central to the success of SMEs during the pandemic. For businesses in international markets, e‑commerce has replaced physical storefronts and in‑person dealings. Funding will cover partial costs associated with adaptation of online marketing tools, including websites, and digital business consulting.
  • Online advertising: Every business needs to do marketing to attract customers, increase sales and compete. To effectively target and reach a wider audience, eligible expenses will now include some targeted online advertising and search engine optimization, for a maximum combined funding of $50,000 per project.
  • Virtual trade shows: An important activity for many business‑to‑business (B2B) companies around the world, trade shows provide exposure to new markets and networking opportunities. At the start of the pandemic, many were uncertain about the future of trade shows, however in recent months virtual versions have emerged as successful, contact-free alternatives. SMEs and entrepreneurs can now apply for funding to attend virtual trade shows and other business events.

To build a sustainable and resilient recovery that benefits everyone, CanExport SMEs now includes new dedicated support for women, Indigenous entrepreneurs, and visible minorities‑owned businesses — who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID‑19 crisis.

The CanExport SMEs program has successfully provided funding to SMEs who are expanding their business in international markets where they have little‑to‑no sales. The program has been instrumental in establishing Canadian businesses abroad, resulting in over $600 million in exports since 2016.

The recent program funding changes respond to the new realities that SMEs and entrepreneurs are facing. Business owners are finding new ways to enter international markets without a physical presence, and the CanExport SMEs program has adapted to support their innovation. These funding improvements will help hundreds of small businesses take advantage of emerging opportunities, access new markets, and create secure jobs for Canadians.

To learn more about funding, eligible activities, and how to apply, please visit CanExport SMEs.