There are many federal, provincial and even regional funding initiatives that can offset some of the costs of developing an export market, such as tariffs, regulatory compliance, packaging, labelling, translation and travel. Some programs offer loans that are "conditionally repayable," and often a percentage of the funds provided must be matched by the recipient.

Of particular interest is the Export Express Credit program from Export Development Canada, which offers unsecured loans of up to $50,000 with repayment terms of up to two years. No pledge of assets is required, and there's no penalty for early payback. The loan is available to qualifying Canadian exporters with at least two years of operating history and less than $5 million in revenue.

The Business Development Bank of Canada has another noteworthy program. Its Market Xpansion Loan provides up to $100,000, with a repayment period of up to eight years, for use in a number of specific export activities — among them, trade-show attendance and the purchase of additional inventory for export.

Given the special nature of these EDC and BDC programs, however, you can expect to pay above-average interest rates.

Also, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade offers funding for export-related research, commercialization and the formation of international partnerships. For instance, its Going Global Innovation program covers up to 75% of eligible non-R&D expenses, such as travel and the development of legal documents.

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