The following article is a summary of the talking point from the CDAP Webinar hosted by Darian Kovacs at Jelly Digital Marketing & PR, a digital advisor for the program, with special guests from Alex at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), Isabelle at the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Nisreen from Magnet, and fellow Digital Advisor, Matt at Scout Technology Guides. Our goal is to help Canadian business owners better understand the program, how it works, and its benefits, as well as clear up any confusion or frustration that pertains to it.
What is the Canadian Digital Adoption Program (CDAP)?
Darian: There are two grants available under CDAP:
- Grow Your Business Online – Up to $2,400 in funding to discover and implement new e-commerce strategies and access to $7,300 youth wage subsidies.
- Boost Your Business Technology – Up to $15,000 in funding for a digital audit and strategy and access to up to $100,000 in interest-free BDC loans and $7,300 youth wage subsidies.
To qualify for either grant, your business must be Canadian-owned and for-profit. To qualify for the Boost Your Business Technology grant, your business must also have had at least $500,000 in gross revenue in at least one of the last three tax years and at least one employee. If your business does not meet those additional requirements, you may be eligible for the Grow Your Business Online grant.
One of the great things about this program is how quick and easy it is to apply. Oftentimes, businesses are applying and getting approved within 25 minutes! To help walk you through the verification and application process, my friend and fellow Digital Advisor, Keenan, created this super helpful video.
Why is it so quick and easy to apply to this program?
Alex: Our team at ISED has worked really hard to make the application process as seamless as possible. One of the greatest barriers that small- and medium-sized businesses face in accessing funding and support include complex application processes and a lack of time and resources to spend on completing the application process, so we’ve trying to eliminate that as much as possible and continue to work towards finding ways to make the process even more user-friendly.
What can applicants do to optimize the application process?
Alex: A couple of tips to make the verification and application process as smooth as possible include:
- Utilizing the grant assessment tool available on the website to help determine which grant makes the most sense for your business.
- Having all the necessary information needed ready to go. To apply, you need to be the sole proprietor or the director or president of the corporation, you’ll need your personal (not business) banking information for identity verification and your CRA My Business Account login information, and lastly, you’ll need all the basic information about your business (ie. legal business name, head office address, etc.).
How can businesses benefit from this program?
Alex: Digital adoption is so important for businesses in today’s day and age. This program helps businesses grow their online presence to connect with more customers, and in turn, increase sales. It also helps businesses streamline their operations and thus, boost productivity. There are so many tools and technologies that businesses can access through the program, so businesses from any industry can benefit.
How do businesses choose a Digital Advisor?
Alex: There are so many Digital Advisors in the marketplace right now. This program is meant for any industry across Canada, so depending on what your business does, you’re going to want to ensure that your advisor’s expertise aligns with what you’re trying to achieve. Once an application is approved, applicants get access to the Digital Advisor Marketplace where they can filter by area of expertise, location, etc. to find the right fit for the business. Applicants are also encouraged to interview advisors.
Do IT and cybersecurity assessments fall under the program?
Matt: It does! A cyber-hygiene assessment will tell you how secure you are and identify the areas in which you’re most vulnerable so that you can properly invest in the cyber protection that’s right for your business. Plus, the interest-free loan can be used towards these technology upgrades. It doesn’t matter the size of your business, cyber breaches and scams can occur at any time and have the potential to be devastating.
What is the purpose of the wage subsidy?
Nisreen: CDAP recipients have access to $7,300 wage subsidies provided by Magnet to hire youth to help with the implementation of the recommendations in the digital adoption plan. The application is easy to fill out and shouldn’t take more than 5 to 10 minutes, provided the business is ready to hire and understands what kind of work they need the hire to do. Sometimes businesses opt to utilize the funding for short-term hires, whereas others use it as an opportunity to offset onboarding costs for long-term hires. Magnet has supported over 30,000 placements across Canada, so we are very well-versed in supporting small- and medium-sized businesses with making those hires happen. As of right now, the age group for this subsidy is 18 to 30. Previously, there were additional eligibility criteria, but for now, those have been removed to make things easier for businesses. Another change we’ve made is that businesses are now able to utilize more than one subsidy – they can hire as many youths as needed, and receive $7,300 for each one. These subsidies can also be utilized for current staff between the ages of 18 and 30 that will be involved in the implementation process and/or managing new software and systems.
What do businesses need to know about the $100,000 interest-free loan?
Isabelle: This loan is provided by the BDC for businesses that complete the digital adoption plan as funded by the Boost Your Business Technology grant. The application is done entirely online through a link that is provided once the digital adoption plan has been reviewed and approved by ISED. Unlike the grant and wage subsidy portions of this program, this loan does need to be repaid. It should be noted that qualifying for CDAP doesn’t pre-approve a business for the loan and the amount a business is allowed to borrow depends on the previous year’s revenue. Furthermore, there are criteria for what the loan can be used for, as it is meant to support the implementation of the digital adoption plan.
Questions & Answers:
Q: If someone is looking for a CRM setup, are there advisors that do CRM setup?
A: Yes! There are so many things you can do with CRM, and you can definitely access that through the program.
Q: Can someone still become an advisor at this stage of the game?
A: At this time, applications to become a Digital Advisor are closed. If you want to keep up to date with any updates regarding reopening applications, you can sign up for newsletters.
Q: If an individual owns more than one company, can both companies be eligible for the program?
A: Yes! As long as they are separate entities and each one meets the eligibility criteria.
Q: How does the payment process work?
A: Businesses first pay their Digital Advisors for the audit and strategy. Once complete, the recipient submits the digital adoption plan alongside the receipt for reimbursement. Once submitted, confirmation should be received within 30 days, provided there’s nothing that delays the process (such as incorrect information).
Q: Can a business utilize both the Boost Your Business Technology and the Grow Your Business Online grants?
A: Yes! If a business hasn’t yet met the eligibility criteria for the Boost Your Business Technology grant, they can apply for the Grow Your Business Online grant and still access the Boost Your Business Technology grant in the future.
Q: Is there an end date to the program?
A: Currently, there is no end date. However, as of right now, the deadline to submit applications for the youth wage subsidy portion of the program is September 30th, 2024.
Q: Does working with a BDC Digital Advisor vs. a regular Digital Advisor impact whether a business will get the loan?
A: No! As long as the Digital Advisor is approved by ISED and you receive your unique link, you’re good to apply – there’s no advantage either way.
For more information about the CDAP: https://ised-isde.canada.ca/site/canada-digital-adoption-program/en
For more information about the Magnet wage subsidy: https://cdaprogram.ca/boost-your-business-technology/
For more information about the BDC interest-free loan: https://www.bdc.ca/en/canada-digital-adoption-program