Business COVID-19

15 Business Resources You Should Know About During The COVID-19 Pandemic

business resources

Communities across Canada may be at different phases of reopening the economy, but one question remains the same: How will businesses survive this pandemic? These business resources can help.

Whether it’s financial woes, legal issues or digital struggles that your business is facing, you don’t have to do it alone. Bay Street Bull has rounded up programs and initiatives to help your business come out on top.

This article is updated regularly to ensure that any and all advancements in regulations are documented and available when you need them.

LEGAL

NCLI

The National Canadian Lawyers Initiative (NCLI) launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way for Canadians to receive urgent legal assistance. The volunteer-led initiative has over 400 student and working lawyers who are eager to assist Canadians in need. 

Through their online portal, you can fill out a form about what type of legal assistance you require, and NCLI will match you with a legal professional. They don’t pick and choose their clients, NCLI aims to help everyone figure out best practices during the pandemic. However, they do not take on criminal cases. Read our interview with NCLI President, Alex Don, here.

Goodlawyer

Goodlawyer is a Canadian online marketplace that offers micro legal services. Its online resource page compiles the latest information that can help Canadian businesses navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Goodlawyer’s overall goal is to empower business owners and freelancers to get the legal help they need at a low cost. Due to current circumstances, Goodlawyer offers free 15 minute advice sessions with a good lawyer over the phone. All you have to do is book online.

FUNDING

Indigenous small/medium sized businesses

The Ontario government is providing up to $10 million to Indigenous-owned small and medium sized businesses as the province begins to safely and gradually reopen the economy. Successful applicants can receive loans up to $50,000. 

In order to qualify, your business must be ineligible for, or unable to access, existing federal and provincial COVID-19 response initiatives for small businesses. The funding is being delivered through the Support for People and Jobs Fund. 

BMO Celebrating Women Grant Program

In collaboration with Deloitte, BMO Celebrating Women–a BMO-owned community program–has pledged $100,000 in grants to Canadian entrepreneurs. The new grant program will award 10 women-owned businesses with $10,000 to put towards their business.

Applications for the BMO Celebrating Women Grant Program open on July 20, 2020 and will close on August 7, 2020. BMO is collaborating with Leaders from GroYourBiz, Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), Women Get On Board, Women Business Enterprises Canada, Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub and Deloitte to form a judging panel and advisory committee. Grant recipients will be announced in October. 

BDC Co-Lending Program

As part of the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) announced by the Canadian government, the BDC co-lending program offers commercial loans up to $12.5 million. The joint effort between BDC and your primary financial institution can be used for operational cash flow requirements during COVID-19.

Successful applicants will receive funds for cash flow needs, including regularly scheduled principal and interest payments on existing debt. Payments can be postponed up for 12 months if needed, and the program is available until or before September 30, 2020.

To qualify your business must have been financially stable before COVID-19, as well as been directly impacted by the pandemic. In addition, your business is subject to your primary financial institution’s credit criteria. Find out more here.

EDC BCAP Guarantee

Export Development Canada (EDC) is working with approved financial institutions to help Canadian businesses through this difficult time. The EDC Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) was created to help businesses of all sizes, regions and sectors address the financial impacts of COVID-19. 

Successful applicants will receive a loan or line of credit of an amount that’s determined by you financial institution. Proceeds from your loan must be used to finance business operating costs and cannot be used to repay or refinance existing debt.

Contact your financial institution to find out if the EDC BCAP Guarantee is right for your business.

Canada Emergency Business Account 

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profit companies, to help cover operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This program has been implemented by banks and credit unions in collaboration with Export Development Canada. 25% of the loan will be forgiven if it is completely paid off by Dec. 31, 2022.

To be eligible, you must be a small business with a payroll between $20,000 and $1.5 million for 2019. Businesses with less than $20,000 in payroll may also qualify based on their tax filings and non deferrable expenses. Check with your financial institution to see if you qualify.

KPMG Tool for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program

KPMG has created an automated tool that helps commercial landlords apply the the CECRA program, which will make it easier for them to offer rent relief to impacted tenants. Through collecting tenant and property information in a centralized database, the tool determines a tenants eligibility for the program and assists with the application and submission process to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program offers commercial landlords forgivable loans for up to 50% of the monthly gross rent owed by eligible small business tenants who experienced financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic in April, May, June and July 2020. The deadline to submit your application for CECRA is August 31, 2020.

ONLINE

Localhood

Created by locals, for locals, this online platform aims to gather Toronto businesses into a single platform so that consumers can know where to shop locally.

Post a short photo or video story—similar to an Instagram story—and show users what’s available at your business. Localhood currently has services ranging from retail and restaurants to coffee and flowers displayed on their website.

Use this platform to attract new customers who are looking for ways to support local business.

Scrumblr

This online simulation of a whiteboard can help your team feel like they’re back in the office and brainstorming ideas. Through using virtual sticky notes, Scrumblr lets you track ideas and create an online hub of innovation. 

Create a shareable URL, and start adding notes to see your vision come to life on your screen—just make sure the name you give your Scrumblr board hasn’t been used before or else you’re looking at someone else’s work. Working from home can feel isolating, but this tool can help make your team feel like they’re collaborating together. According to SEMrush, this Canadian-made platform has had a web traffic increase of 213% between 2019-2020.

Recovery Activation Program

The Recovery Activation Program (RAP) is an interactive online workshop program that connects businesses with industry experts for guidance, mentorship and practical advice about process modernization and end-to-end digital transformation. 

As your business begins to recover from COVID-19 impacts, RAP can help bring your presence online while growing your professional network. Participants of the program will end with an expertly vetted Digital Transformation Blueprint which will help businesses overcome specific barriers to digital connectivity.

The program is part of the Toronto Region Board of Trade’s Reimagining Recovery Framework, is completely free and supports firms of any size in Ontario.

Digital Main Street

The Digital Main Street (DMS) program aims to assist main street small businesses with their adoption of technology. Successful applicants will receive a comprehensive plan to increase their digital presence as well as funding to help increase business capacity though digital transformation.

There are numerous qualifications your business must meet in order to be eligible, including  being located close to or on a downtown main street, being fully functional and operating at the time of application and having one to 10 employees. You can find the full list of qualifications here.

The program is available to all main street small businesses and municipalities in Ontario, thanks to a partnership with FedDev Ontario, the Province of Ontario, OBIAA (Ontario Business Improvement Area Association) and Digital Main Street.

Business Resilience Service (BRS)

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has joined forces with accounting professionals to provide free business consultations for small to medium-sized businesses. 

The initiative includes resources for charities and non-profit organizations who have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. The Business Resilience Service (BRS), is providing business review to determine sustainable courses of action as well as connecting owners with additional specialized resources. All services run through BRS are completely free of charge. The service is operating in collaboration with EY, Imagine Canada and Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada. 

Public Health’s Four Step Reopening Plan

Re-opening businesses poses a lot of challenges and questions for owners who want to ensure the health and safety of both their employees and customers. As the city settles into Phase 2, this document can be used to ensure all sanctioned guidelines are being followed. The easy four-step guideline defines important terms and takes you through best practises linking to a number of business-type specific regulations. 

Merchant Growth

Taking your small business online can be confusing and difficult, Merchant Growth wants to help make it easy. The company prides itself on being the “fastest and most friendly alternative financier” in Canada. Through a free online webinar, Merchant Growth will offer insights on growing your online presence and navigating eCommerce sales.

The online event takes place on Thursday, July 30 at 1 p.m. Register here.