CanExport SMEs During COVID-19: What Projects are Eligible to Receive Funding?
COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of government and business, including federal and provincial government funding programs. Many programs have had to adapt and shift their eligibility guidelines as most travel has come to a halt.
One of the programs that has received a temporary alteration is CanExport, which is arguably one of the most popular international marketing grants available to Canadians as it can cover up to 75% of eligible project costs to $75,000.
Thankfully, amongst all this change, there is still as much opportunity as ever to leverage Canadian government funding through CanExport. New and unique measures have been put in place by the program to adapt to this temporary lifestyle change and support Canadian SMEs through these times.
Access Global Markets Without Leaving the Country
The CanExport SMEs program is a popular Canadian government grant that supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as they explore/expand new and under-developed international markets. Typically, it is used to cover the costs of participating in international trade shows and government-led missions.
Due to COVID-19, the program is not approving any travel and related activities such as trade shows until further notice. However, there are many other activities eligible for funding.
Non-Travel Projects Eligible for CanExport SMEs
- Marketing tools creation, adaptation, and translation;
- Business, tax, and legal advice;
- Participation at virtual trade events and fairs;
- Interpretation services;
- Search engine optimization (SEO);
- IP protection, certification, and adaptation; and
- Market research, feasibility studies, identification of key contacts, and b2b facilitation.
Who Can Apply?
To be eligible for the CanExport program, Canadian businesses must:
- Be a for-profit;
- Earn annual revenues ranging from $100,000 to $100,000,000;
- Maintain 1 to 500 full-time employees;
- Be incorporated federally or classified as a limited liability partnership (LLP);
- Create eligible project expenses of $20,000 or more; and
- Be financially stable and able to pay all project expenses not covered by the program.
When Should I Apply?
Due to the popularity of this program and the natural delays associated with today’s circumstances, interested applicants are encouraged to submit their application three months in advance of any activities. Applicants should receive a decision within 60 business days.
CanExport SMEs COVID-19 FAQ’s
The program has a great list of general and COVID-19-related FAQ’s available. Some common questions include:
Q: I have been approved for a CanExport project, but trade shows and other events have been cancelled. What should I do about costs already incurred?
A: If you have incurred costs for approved activities, and are unable to get those costs refunded, CanExport SMEs will reimburse 75%. The usual claim guidelines apply – that any costs have to be incurred only after the project was approved. There will not be penalization for unused funding.
Q: The majority of my application was going to involve travel for trade shows. Should I still apply or just wait until restrictions are lifted?
A: You should wait until travel restrictions are lifted and your trade shows have new confirmed dates. Timelines related to COVID-19 are unpredictable, so travel should not be assumed until official details are announced.
Q: If a trade show was cancelled and the organizers offered me a credit for future events, can I still claim this expense as part of my active CanExport SMEs project?
A: Yes, you can. A credit is not a cash refund, therefore you may claim the expense. Credits used for future events cannot subsequently be submitted for reimbursement in a new application.
Q: I have been approved for a CanExport project, but trade shows and other events have been cancelled. Can I use funds for other markets?
A: Only approved activities in previously approved target markets are allowed. To target markets not already approved by the program, request to close the project and submit a new application with an updated export business case. There will not be penalization for unused funding.
Additional COVID-19 Business Support
We are monitoring government updates regarding incentives and stimulus actions in response to the pandemic and updating our COVID-19 Government Support for Canadian Businesses page daily. Some of the government funding and financing programs in place to assist companies include:
- Funding to move your agriculture business online;
- Government funding for ICT businesses; and the
- Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP).
Discuss Your Export Projects with a Government Funding Planner
Considering how CanExport can support your upcoming project? Contact Mentor Works to evaluate whether your project is a good fit. Our team can help you align your upcoming project with today’s CanExport funding guidelines.