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Canadian Digital Adoption Program: The Facts About CDAP | MarketBox

Everything You Need to Know About the Canadian Digital Adoption Program (CDAP)

What is the Canadian Digital Adoption Program? 

The Canadian Digital Adoption Program (also known as CDAP) is a government-sponsored initiative designed to help small to medium-sized businesses adopt new digital technologies and provide work opportunities for young Canadians. The Canadian government has committed $4 billion to the CDAP program over the next four years. 

With increasing numbers of large-scale companies moving their business operations online to meet demand, many SMEs are left behind due to a lack of resources. CDAP aims to provide these businesses with the financial and professional support needed to adopt new digital technologies that will allow them to take advantage of eCommerce opportunities and modernize their business. 

How does CDAP support businesses?

Support for businesses via the Canadian Digital Adoption Program is split into two areas — or “streams.” 

Stream 1 of CDAP is designed to help companies develop/grow the online side of their business, enabling them to take advantage of eCommerce opportunities in their industry. Stream 2, on the other hand, helps companies develop and implement digital adoption strategies across the business as a whole. Let’s take a look at both in more detail. 

What is Stream 1 of the Canadian Digital Adoption Program? 

CDAP Stream 1: Grow Your Business Online is exclusively for businesses that haven’t taken advantage of eCommerce opportunities yet. Support in this stream comes in the form of microgrants of around $2400 to help with digital adoption costs and will be available for up to 90,000 small businesses. The grants can be used for various activities, including website development, search engine optimization (SEO), social media advertising, and fees for eCommerce platforms. 

In addition, CDAP participants will have access to “a network of digital experts to introduce and help them use their digital tools.”

Source: Government of Canada

It’s worth noting at this stage that the term eCommerce encompasses more than just the act of purchasing an item online rather than in a physical store. For service businesses, eCommerce could be implementing the ability to book appointments and pay for them online instead. With that in mind, it’s important not to disregard this stream simply because your business doesn’t sell a physical product.  

To be eligible for Stream 1 of the Canadian Digital Adoption Program, you must be a small business that meets all of the following criteria:

  • Be a for-profit business (this includes for-profit social enterprises and co-operatives)
  • Be a registered or incorporated business
  • Is consumer-facing and can be accessed by consumers or provides in-person services to consumers 
  • Has at least one employee
  • Must commit to maintaining the digital adoption strategy for six months following the completion of the program
  • Must consent to participate in follow-up surveys, sharing information with the Government of Canada (ISED and Statistics Canada), and having the name of the business published as a recipient of funding

Corporate chains, franchises, registered charities, representatives of multi-level marketing companies, and real estate brokerages are not eligible to participate. 

What is Stream 2 of the Canadian Digital Adoption Program? 

CDAP Stream 2 is focused on helping up to 70,000 SMEs level up with access to new digital solutions. Grants in this stream are much larger and can be used for a number of things:

  • Grants of up to $15,000 are available to cover 90% of the cost of developing a digital plan
  • Interest-free loans of up to $100,000 are available to support the implementation of the plan
  • Wage subsidies of $7,300 can be used to hire Canadian youth to help with the digital/online elements of the business on short-term placements 

In addition to the grants, participants in Stream 2 of the Canadian Digital Adoption Program will also have access to a network of advisors to help with the design and implementation of digital plans. 

To be eligible for Stream 2 of CDAP, your business must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a privately owned, for-profit business
  • Be incorporated provincially or federally, or be a Canadian resident sole proprietor
  • Have no more than 499 full-time equivalent employees 
  • Have at least $500,000 of annual revenues in one of the previous 3 tax years

How do I know which stream is right for me? 

This is a common question, and luckily the Canadian government has a handy resource to help you decide on their website. Click here to take the short quiz (and by short, I mean four questions!) to help you understand your goals and decide which CDAP stream is best for your business. 

When do CDAP applications open? 

Applications for both CDAP streams are open now. 

Click here to apply for Stream 1

Click here to apply for Stream 2 

If you’re applying for Stream 1, you’ll be asked to complete the assessment tool and then, if eligible, be directed to your local service providers in your province for more details on applying for the grant. 

For Stream 2, you submit an initial application and be asked to assess your business’ digital readiness via the Digital Needs Assessment (DNA). Once that’s completed, you’ll have access to the CDAP’s Digital Advisor Marketplace, where you can select the digital advisor you’d like to partner with. Then it’s a case of agreeing on terms of work and pricing, waiting on your digital adoption plan, and then submitting it to process the grant payment.

What digital technology should I implement in my business with CDAP funding?

As part of either stream, you’ll get access to a network of advisors that can help identify the digital technologies your business could benefit from. But in the mean, take a look at our article covering the business software you need to implement ASAP to get you started. 

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