CanExport SMEs How-to Guide for a Successful Application

Erica Yu
4 min read
Published March 12, 2024
Table of Contents

The application process for the CanExport SME grant is a straight forward process on the Government of Canada’s website, taking less than two minutes to complete the registration, but there are a few tips to streamline your application process and maximize your funding.

This guide includes step-by-step instructions with screenshots of an actual application and what’s required, followed by advice from successful applications from prior years.

What You Need to Start Your CanExport SME Application

Have the following numbers on hand, you’ll need them for step 4 of the application process below:

  • Total gross annual revenues declared in Canada during company’s last complete fiscal year
  • International sales revenue from second-to-last completed fiscal year
  • Dollar amount spend on international business development from last fiscal year

Step 1 – Register for an Account

To begin, go to the online portal for the CanExport SME application and fill in your registration details to create an account:

Step 2 – Complete and Save Your Profile

Fill in your personal details to complete your profile and press Save:

Step 3 – Apply for CanExport SMEs Funding

You will be immediately taken to a page to start your application. 

Click on Apply Now!

Step 4 – Fill out Your Business Details

Fill out the “General” business info including the number of employees, revenue numbers, and revenue from previous fiscal years.

This part of the application helps determine your company’s basic eligibility criteria to the CanExport program. Review the eligibility criteria including:

  • For-profit, incorporated / LLC / coop in Canada
  • Fewer than 500 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees
  • Have between $100,000 and $100 million in annual revenue

CanExport SME is designed to help companies expand into international markets, so the question on international sales revenue may affect your amount of funding.

Press Submit

Step 5 – Confirmation Email

Within 7 business days (and as quick as 1 day) you will receive an email confirming your eligibility to apply to the program. 

The subject of the email will be CanExport: Pre-Screening information validated.

What’s Next? 

After following the link in the confirmation email, you will be prompted to continue your application by filling out these Project Details:

  1. Project Summary
  2. Does your company/organization have an Intellectual Property (IP) strategy in place to conduct business abroad?
  3. Explain your business case by clearly outlining the activities you plan to undertake and how it relates to your company’s international business development objectives. Demonstrate how your company plans to undertake and complete the project and how your proposed activities help you succeed in your chosen target markets). Explanations provided should be detailed, so as to justify the size and complexity of your project.
  4. Does this proiect include participation in a trade mission organized by Global Affairs Canada for groups under-represented in international trade (for example, women, youth. LGBTQ2 or Indigenous?
  5. Briefly describe key partners or contributors for this project, if applicable, as well as the financial and human resources available to you.
  6. Outline key companies that you have identified as potential clients, partners or representatives in each or your markets.

The large sections have a maximum of 4000 characters, which is approximately 800 words or one and a half printed pages. In our experience, providing more information improves your chances.

Tips For a Successful CanExport SME Application

Here are a few of our learnings from successful applications to not only increase you chances of being funded, but also to maximize the funding amount and prevent any delays in the process:

  • CanEx likes to promote “Made in Canada” products and services. Keep this in mind as you complete the Project Details – the intention here is to support Canadian businesses expanding internationally.
  • Unlike the CDAP program where everyone can get the maximum funding, the CanEx funding amount are determined on a case-by-case basis and depends heavily on your Project Details.
  • The more information, the better. For instance, if attending international trade shows, provide the location, date, website, types of attendees, and what opportunities each event will bring.

In addition, there are reporting requirements after receiving the grant that you must agree to and provide, but we won’t cover that in this guide.

Finally, apply soon! As with most Canadian grants, they can become fully subscribed and they may stop applications with little or no notice.

Need Grant Writing Help for CanExport SME Application?

You can invite a consultant through the same Government of Canada portal to complete the application on your behalf.

Big Cedar can help you with this grant application process and can work with you to write an application to maximize your funding. Any costs associated with completing application are fully reimbursed, should you partner with us to execute the plan. 

Reach out to us well before the application deadline to get funding and expand into international markets!