FUNDING for SMEs

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Photo-FundingFinancing a business is a challenge for any company, but especially for small food businesses. The pressure is on to comply with North America’s new food safety regulations, expected to take effect in 2015. Health Canada is implementing the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and the FDA in the U.S. is drafting the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Canadian food businesses exporting to the U.S. will have to comply with both.

 

How can a small Canadian business afford the cost of implementing the required food safety measures? Read on.

Is it worth it? It’s all in the way you look at it. Yes, food safety is a cost of doing business but, it’s also a trust-builder. In this age of social media, consumer expectations of transparency and authenticity and growing concern for the safety of their food, can there be a stronger message than “our brand invests in food safety”?

ONE COMPANY’S EXPERIENCE

At this month’s North American Food Safety Summit in Toronto, Randy Josephs, VP of Operations at Kisko Products, described how his family’s business overcame challenges to grow into a medium-size business. They were able to implement technology within a budget, keep up with regulations, provide ongoing employee training and find funding through Canadian government programs.

BENEFITS

Government programs will not fully fund your business. Additional capital is required. For Kisko, the benefits outweighed the costs. Over a 5 year period improvements included:

  • Direct labour
  • Machine usage, changeover, throughput and capacity
  • Decreased production waste and garbage cost
  • Market development
  • Export expansion capabilities
RESOURCES

Canadian government funding programs are typically focused on innovation, market growth and export development. Each program has its own eligibility requirements and window of availability, and may not be an option for your business. Randy shared some programs that helped grow his business. There are also other programs and grants available, including tax incentives like SR&ED.

  • Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME)
  • Yves Landry AIME Global Initiative
  • Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)
  • Growing Forward 2
  • Local Food Fund

But, who has the time for research and filling out applications? Where do you start? Mentor Works helped Kisko navigate through the government maze, identifying and successfully applying for the appropriate funding opportunities. According to Randy, Mentor Works builds their business on referrals. What sets them apart is that they provide the necessary knowledge and tools to enable their clients to submit future successful applications on their own. I asked Randy if he’s related to anyone in the company. He assured me he’s just a happy customer. To learn more, Mentor Works provides webinars and workshops.

So don’t despair. Check out what the Canadian government has to offer.

© Birgit Blain & Associates Inc.

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