Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Leadership Grants Organization: Oh, the sweet smell of a scam

In the last several weeks, I've been contacted directly by no less than six or seven people who have submitted--or are considering submitting--applications to the Leadership Grants Organization. It makes me realize that I really should have shared my conclusions about this organization much sooner. So below is the breakdown of the research that convinced me AGAINST moving forward with the grant application process. (Those of you whom I've e-mailed directly will recognize this!)

As you know if you've read previous blog posts, I was initially thrilled when I came upon the Leadership Grants Organization website. It's extremely difficult to find grants for which one is eligible as an individual, and I thought this could be the solution I'd been looking for. However, my excitement was tempered with just a hint of suspicion, rooted in the fact that the only mention of actual grant recipients was a list with first names and last initials. No press releases, no links to winners' websites or projects--nothing. I've worked in publicity, and it seemed extremely strange to me that the organization would choose not to promote its work or that of its grantees.

So, first I found the site's IP address, then tried to match that with a physical address. The physical address given by the organization is on Madison Avenue in New Jersey--but the IP address is in Canada. To double-check, I did a search for the company in the directory of the Madison Avenue building it's supposed to be located in and couldn't find anything. Then I found the owner of the IP address: Darren Morgenstern. This charmer is the founder of ashleymadison.com, which caters to married people who want to cheat on their partners with other married people (more discreet that way, I suppose). Weird connection, so I looked further, and it looks like he was investigated in 2001 (in Canada) for a domain name scam. There are also accusations of a scam with a home staging teaching company he owns, but he hasn't been indicted for either (and he made some big bucks when he sold ashleymadison.com). Then I looked on BBB to see that Leadership Grants Organization has been assigned a rank of F because it was only established in April. Odd, since the website shows that some people won grants BEFORE then. Also on the BBB site, I saw that a Sarah Morgenstern is listed as a chief operating officer of the organization. So I thought--wife of Darren Morgenstern? Either way, this wasn't looking good, but I couldn't figure out where the "scam" would be. I did some MORE looking, and found that there are people complaining online that they paid between $2700 and $4000 to an "outside business plan consulting company" that Leadership Grants Organization had recommended--but these people had never (a) received help on their plans or (b) heard back from Leadership Grants Organization. So I e-mailed the woman I'd been in touch with to ask directly if the site/organization is linked to either Morgenstern. In response, she copy/pasted the contact page listed on the website, basically just ignoring my question.

As Paul and others have mentioned, my conclusion is that if people just submit their business plans, as I would have done, there would be no loss of money--just a waste of time. But I worry that it would be more harmful for those who hire this consulting company to help them create or edit their business plans. (I also did the same IP address/physical address search on this consulting company, Capital Business Service but, to be honest, can't remember the results as in detail as the ones I gave above. But they were just as fishy.)

To be clear (don't want any lawsuits here!), my "findings" are more suggestive than definitive, but they convinced me against proceeding with the organization, and I'm advising anyone who asks to be cautious in moving forward. It also seems that, at the very least, this company should be investigated by those with more resources than me to determine its legitimacy.

Have you submitted a grant application with Leadership Grants Organization? Worked with Capital Business Service? Has anyone reading this WON a grant from them? Please share your experiences in the comments, and feel free to contact me directly if you'd like to discuss this further.

And for the record, I think it's DISGUSTING and so, so disheartening that would-be entrepreneurs could be derailed by a scam like this. I hope none of you have been.


  1. Again, excellent investigating, Katie. I appreciate your taking the time to figure this out. You saved many people lots of time. I hope when people google "Leadership Grants" they come across this very blog entry and know not to apply!

    1. hello..please keep posting . leadersip grant canada is still out there..

      this is a part of the guideline ''if u fail to write a thank you letter prior to receiving thr grant. you willnot be handed the proceeds. A one month time frame.. is not feasible for new applicants. This a ruse to rush thed process by hiring their ' consultant. thank you. do you know any legit grants out there /

    2. hello..please keep posting . leadersip grant canada is still out there..

      this is a part of the guideline ''if u fail to write a thank you letter prior to receiving thr grant. you willnot be handed the proceeds. A one month time frame.. is not feasible for new applicants. This a ruse to rush thed process by hiring their ' consultant. thank you. do you know any legit grants out there /

    3. This past summer I spent so much time preparing my business plan and finishing my bookkeeping in order to apply to Leadership Grants, that I actually started to get sick as I also have two other jobs besides my business. I almost paid the Leadership Grant sponsor to write my Plan but realized I really couldn't afford it. They quite subtly encouraged me enough to make it hard to make the decision, but I decided to take the time to update my plan and provide them with all the documents they required.
      I wish now that I had seen this blog because I spent tens of hours in a 3 month period preparing all my info, only to be told that those who have matching funds might be considered before those who don't. I contacted my rep and she simply explained what that meant and told me that if I didn't have the funds then I should just leave that part out and send in all remaining documents, which I did. They don't promise anything, but I was rejected about 3 months later with the reason being that "most likely my rejection was due to a lack of matching funds" and that I should feel free to apply again next year.
      I promptly closed my account with them, but not before shedding a few tears. I really wasted sooooo much time on that application, time that would have been better spent on my business and on my health. They asked why I was closing the account and I told them that it seems you have to already have the funds that you're applying for and that I wouldn't have that much money in the near future.
      I felt at that moment that I had been duped and was terribly depressed for the rest of the day. It was really hurtful.
      I hope that Yah recompenses them as they deserve.

  2. I'm from Canada and have also been investigating this company as well. I tried to find the information related to this company by searching at the non-profit organization website of the Canadian Government and did not find it. After two emails I recieved this;

    [Hi E. Marie,
    We have publicly posted our Charter from Industry Canada on every page of our website at the bottom. (Clicking the Registration Number will open a PDF page)

    The link looks like this: Copyright, 2010 Leadership Grants Organization of Canada. Registration No.: 4537467. All Rights Reserved]

    I clicked the page and I found a PDF of their incorporation acceptance as a corporation but little else. I could have done that myself.
    I research Industry Canada for grants and there was no information about Leadership Grants Org. of Canada. Tried many ways of searching...nothing.

    Another clue that something may not be right is that there is no French language. Unusual for a Canadian non-profit association and no link to a French site. So I guess this seems to exclude a part of Canada already.

    This might be a legitimate non-profit organization but they probably aren't going to give me any money after my pushing for information from them.

  3. PART 1

    Dear Katie Gutierrez Painter,

    Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the postings on your blog.

    The Leadership Grants Organization is a legitimate non-profit (not a registered charity) and we are making a good, proper, legal, and honest go of it.

    We make it clear that our organization is predicated on a social enterprise model (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_enterprise) which uses market-based activity to generate income that gets allocated to our described cause: (Funding small businesses). The market based activity we employ is comprised of introducing our sponsors to applicants that may need the products or services our sponsors offer, and paying us a fee or contribution for doing so. (There is never an obligation to use our sponsors. We have many sponsors in various industries which of course includes business plan preparation, but more on that below).

    Once our revenues satisfy our expenses, 100% of the remainder, if any, is distributed to applicants that meet our criteria for funding. That is what the law and our charter say must happen and that is what’s done. We do not guarantee funding to any applicant, nor can we ever be assured that we will generate enough income to pay our expenses and have enough left over to distribute to our applicants. What we do guarantee however is that we will put forth our best efforts to generate revenue, and that 100% of the net proceeds of that revenue will be distributed.

    We are a new organization, less than a year old, and like all up-starts, we have our challenges. It is not easy to prevail in this kind of economy with limited resources, no government help, and a business community that has reined in spending. However in spite of that, we have still had limited success and have given out about 50 micro grants. (To our knowledge, we have done more than any other non-government organization)

    I think that it is unfair, harsh, and irresponsible to suggest we are a scam when we have not taken a dime from any applicant and have tried our best to make our organization work on behalf of small businesses. We don’t pass ourselves off as anything other than that which we are, we never charge any fees to our applicants and we always endeavour to safe-guard all proprietary information.

    When we started this organization, we agreed to give ourselves one year to determine if it would continue to be worth the effort. If we can’t gain the trust of applicants and sponsors and provide enough meaningful money in grants to make a difference to enough people then we will simply end our efforts. No harm, no foul, and we’d still be grateful for the experience and the wonderful entrepreneurs we got to know along the way.

    And if we cannot make a go of it, then fair enough, but at least we tried where no one else dared tread, and for those that we have provided funds to, we hopefully made a difference to them.

    PART 2 FOLLOWS....


    For all of you who are considering applying for a Leadership Grant, please don’t let this blog discourage you. Yes, you will need to take the time to apply, and it is free to do so. However you will still need to make an investment in time whether you are seeking investors, going for a bank loan, or just conducting your own research to prove out your business concept. Nobody is going to consider you for funding without you taking the time to articulate the reason(s) why you feel your business idea has merit.

    If this blog dissuades you then that is perfectly fine as well. We still wish you luck and hope you make a smashing success of your business idea! We truly believe in entrepreneurs and the value they bring to society and the economy.

    About our Business Plan Sponsors: At no time will you improve on your chances for funding by using any one of our sponsors, nor should any sponsor imply or suggest that. You have no obligation to use our business plan sponsors and we provide you with free templates so you can do your own business plan if you want to. If you do elect to hire one of our business plan sponsors, it should be solely on the basis that you need a business plan anyway and would hire a third party company irrespective of applying for a Leadership Grant.

    By the way, if anyone feels they were mis-lead by any of our sponsors, then we’d like to hear about it. We have no tolerance for aggressive sales tactics and will not allow any of our sponsors to mis-lead our applicants. You can feel free to file a complaint with your representative and it will be promptly followed up. (Katie says there were 6 yet we have not heard from anyone, nor have we been able to find any of the ‘complaining’ online that she mentions. Katie, can you provide those links?? )

    In conclusion, I would like to finish by adding that Darren Morgenstern does not own our organization, nor is he a director and has no official role or title in our organization.

    Katie, I suppose that one day you will find the resources and courage to open your book store and I truly hope you do because only then will you be able to appreciate what it takes to start something from scratch as we have done.

    Thank you & God Bless

    Ethan Roberts

      Hi Ethan Roberts.
      I have applied twice to the Leadership Grants organization for consideration of funding towards an existing, growing business. The first rejection was a banal reference to not having sufficient funds to match the Leadership Grants available funds, in spite of having a letter from the bank manager and copies of record made available that proved funds were there. The second application contained an even better business plan and a far more detailed set of copies to ensure that all funding sources were disclosed and signed by the department managers.
      After the 'denial post' appeared on my account, I wondered about whether or not there are actually funds available. The 'list' posted on the site has no dates attached and hasn't changed in 2 yrs (or can you actually prove that it has?).
      I also observed that at no time did I send money to Leadership Grants and obtained outside counsel with regards to my business plan. Hence, no money sent in.
      I also observed that the delays in 'getting back to people' are very unprofessional and business people who have money to invest in small businesses do not operate that way. They are professional and get their meetings done on time and don't drag things on four months.
      The reason...although this is likely a legitimate non-profit organization, the money being funneled into 'for-profit' businesses is probably enough to make this worthwhile. Hence, I agree that this is a scam and no offense, God has blessed me and I don't need you to add that on as a sort of endorsement from heaven.
      This is a sham and a deceit as far as a legitimate enterprise goes so PLEASE DON"T SEND THESE PEOPLE ANY MONEY!

  5. I believe the writer has been very hard on Leadership Grants but perhaps she is correct in her findings. But to be fair to both I believe the the writer of this blog and Leadership Grants ought to post their evidence for or against for the public to read. How about it?

    Al Yetman

    KATIE WROTE: “However, my excitement was tempered with just a hint of suspicion, rooted in the fact that the only mention of actual grant recipients was a list with first names and last initials. No press releases, no links to winners' websites or projects--nothing. I've worked in publicity, and it seemed extremely strange to me that the organization would choose not to promote its work or that of its grantees”


    KATIE WROTE "I did some MORE looking, and found that there are people complaining online that they paid between $2700 and $4000 to an "outside business plan consulting company" that Leadership Grants Organization had recommended--but these people had never (a) received help on their plans or (b) heard back from Leadership Grants Organization.



  7. Hello to all,as a bussines owner who has applied to leadership grants,and is curently waiting for grant aproval. I truly hope that this is a up n up organization,I have submitted the requested business plan along with support letters from other business owners here in kansas city,mo.So far i have recived great feed back and direct communication from my apponited grants rep. Only time will tell if this is a scam or a blessing to small business people who want to live their dreams of free enterprise and self employment.good luck to all

    jbey-owner (beys noveltioes & gifts- kansas city,mo.)

  8. Thank you all for your comments.

    The reason I made this post public is because I had received (and continue to receive) e-mails and phone calls from concerned entrepreneurs who, like me, were hopeful but wary about Leadership Grants Organization. (To date, I've received no fewer than 12-15 personal e-mails on the subject.) As I stated in the post, the information yielded by my research made me ultimately decide against moving forward with a grant application. However, the last thing I intend is to slander a legitimate organization, and I apologize to those whom this post has offended. Still, I think it's important for entrepreneurs--and consumers--to share information and experiences the way people have been doing here. So thanks again to everyone who has commented so respectfully, in a spirit of concern and curiosity. I hope you all will keep me, and each other, posted on what comes of your grant applications!

  9. My first impression....gathering brilliant ideas and the business plans as well then taking the viable ones for themselves. Cleaver way to have entrepreneurs freely hand over their often closely guarded business ideas, with business plan and all, with no questions asked.
    No I think I will pass on this opportunity.

  10. I recently applied for a grant from Leadership Grants to grow my small business. I have been in touch with Ann, my assigned case worker on several occasions. After submitting my business plan Leadership Grants contacted me to request due diligence documentation, which I am preparing. I haven't ever felt scam vibes nor have I ever paid for anything. In fact, the Leadership Grants website provides extensive, detailed business building resources for free. If Leadership Grants doesn't turn out to be a viable funding vehicle, at least it prompted me to write a very detailed business plan, which has proven itself a valuable asset. Winning this grant would be great but it's not the only funding source I've pursued. Money ain't free, friends.

  11. Hi! Well, I missed my "deadline" to submit my business plan because I was waiting for quotes on software I would need. So... now that it seems to be established this is a scam, have you got any ideas on where I can safely go to get a grant? My business is past the research stages but I have not opened yet, no money... I found the office space I would need, have three clients that will hire, but I need the software and computers. I was very excited about this but I thank you for researching them.

  12. This is a total scam. After jumping through hoops, providing all necessary documentation I was denied with no reason given. If they do give out grants it must be to friends and family because I haven't seen a single person actually receive any money yet they say most of the people who send in all the paper work get some money. I'd be happy just to get all the money I spent on postage and getting the paperwork done back.

  13. I would seriously like to see atleast one person recommend The Leadership Grants Organization. I do not want this to be a reference of Mr. Ethan Roberts, but rather a business owner who has experienced the benefits of the organization. Is anyone able to supply us with any sort of references recommending this organization? Anyone?

    Once I find that, I shall apply, create a business plan and complete whatever due diligence is required of me. Til then... I will keep searching for something I feel a little more certain about.

  14. hello,
    Has anyone actually received money for leadership grants of america?

  15. Hello all/ still waiting for a letter from the review panel of this (L.SG.O.A.) my funding date was ended on 9/30/10 according to "Ann Ross" it takes 45-60 days for the commititee to send out a letter of approval or not for the grant. If this is a scam then they are stealing or business plans and other info, what can we as a gruop do ? to have them investigated.

    business man-kc,mo.

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  17. Katie - how I wish I read your blog post before I spent roughly $450 putting togther my application, not to mention countess hours working on my plan. While it's true that I would have had to produce a business plan anyway, the Leadership Grants process consumed every free moment I had for over 6 weeks straight. I got the whiff of a scam early on - when their business consultant company gave me a really hard sell to the tune of $5K for a business plan. My suspicion was further piqued when I learned that the sponsors sit on the review panel for granting funding. Red flag? Then, when I told the consultancy the $5K was out of my range, he started bargaining with me on the phone. The unprofessionalism was palpable. When I asked their success rate he could not tell me - they do not track it. Seriously? When I asked to speak to the CEO he said I would need to make a downpayent first, Really? But I was assured by my representative in Canada I would not be penalized for writing the plan myself or using an outside company. I prepared a meticulous plan and submitted it to the organization. I also provided due diligency items. Moreover, I raised matching funds (something the organization claims makes a grantee extremely competitive). Despite satiating all of these requirements, I received word today in a form letter that I was rejected for funding - the letter said that most grantees are rejected because of a lack of matching funds. I called Leadership Grants and asked why it was rejected and they said they "did not have the infrastructure to provide responses to individual applicants, as they receive thousands." Fair enough. My suspicion was aroused again when the liason could not tell me how much in grants had been distributed this year. If this organization is not a scam (which I believe it is), then it is painfully unprofessional and I recommend NOT wasting one's time with an application. As my father told me, if it's too good to be true (i.e., free money for a for-profit business) it probably is.

  18. Oh yes - what a scam this is! Same as above post. I submitted my application in Canada. I got the form letter today saying that I wasn't able to demonstrate Matching Funds. Bullpucky! I had a signed letter from my RBC Dominion Securities agent verifying that I had 4 times the amount requested in unencumbered funds. I did have a professionally prepared business plan - I just didn't use the company that they recommended because they were way overpriced. I too spent countless hours doing research and gathering the pertinent documents for the consultant. I took the completed plan to our company advisory board member and he made some minor suggestions but said it was a "solid, well-thought out" plan. I'm telling everyone who will listen what a farce this program is. There is nothing in Ethan Robert's post that gives me confidence in this organization. Perhaps Leadership Grants should have asked their consultant buddies to write them a proper plan before they started this venture. I'll bet my plan goes a lot further than theirs!

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  20. They are a total scam. don't waste your money.

  21. They claim that they can give up to 100K yet clearly they do not even have these funds. There is a hidden agenda here.

  22. Sounds to me like it is a way to hawk their sponsors and get advertising dollars I am working on a business plan for them right now but plan to not submit it I will go elsewhere.

  23. Thank you Katie for starting this blog and allowing others to share their feedback.

    I was wary of this organization from the beginning, specifically when I received the introductory email below (I've erased my name). It's comical that "Shelley" included "Derek" in the email to get back to me regarding his services.

    Under the Contact Us link on their website, Shelley Barnes is the only representative listed (on the Canadian site anyway). Shelley must be really busy with all those Canadian accounts, phewy. I decided to call their NON toll-free number, and it goes right to this Shelley's voicemail, instead of an automated service that you would typically hear.

    As others have stated, the recent grant recipients do not have any organizations associated to their names. After doing quite a bit of research, I have not found one person state they received a grant from them.

    Think twice about submitting your plan. It's sad to say, but I wouldn't be surprised if they took your hard work and tried to sell it to someone else... aka "Derek"

    PS The Ethan Roberts joker, who posted his comments above, is the "General Manager" listed on the website. Conveniently, he does not have a direct line posted. Hey Ethan, business must have been pretty slow if you had time to comment on someone's blog at 3pm on a Monday.

  24. Hello (Name),

    I'm writing to let you know that I mailed your Welcome Guide by Canada Post and wanted to mention that I took the liberty of including a brochure from Canada Business Plans. (www.canadabusinessplans.org)

    Canada Business Plans offers business plan consultation and writing assistance to entrepreneurs like yourself and they have special packages and programs for Leadership Grants applicants, so I felt an introduction may be useful to you and have included their manager, Derek in this email thread. (Derek's toll free number is 800-481-8434, Ext 2212.)

    Derek, when you get a moment, please get back to (Name) with some more information regarding your services.

    (Name), if you already have a business plan, or if you don't need assistance preparing your business plan, please 'reply to all' and let Derek know so he doesn't take up your time.

    Thanks everyone, I hope this introduction was helpful!

    Sincere regards,

    Shelley Barnes
    Applicant Support Services

    Direct: +1.416-572-7568 - (Long distance charges may apply)

  25. Should they be asking for my credit report???


  26. There is no such thing as free money...... there never has been and never will be. If you want to be a success you have to work your ass off. Any prospective new business owner is doomed to failure if they honestly believe this will work. These people are running a business and making money by 'coaching and fine tuning' business plans for any of you who choose to pay. The sell tactic is clever and some of you have fallen for it expecting to get what...free money. Don't be so niave.If you think you have what it takes to make it as a business owner and you honestly believe in this free cash.....think again or go get a job at Mcdonalds.

  27. Dont waste your time. After spending $400 for a business plan and lots of time, I was denied with no explanation. The outside agency that they suggest for the business plan wanted $2000. What a joke. These guys are in cohoots with them. If anyone is getting grants its their friends and family. I think everone should get together and complain so that we can shut these scam-artists down!

  28. well kinda sucks to here this my dead line is jan 7th i spend past 4-5weeks an staying up all night to make one i hade a phone call from a consuling agencey but he never mention anything about me paying to get him to looki it over he wanted me to e-mail him the one i made to look it over. Unforently the day i was done was friday an he was going be in office for only 2 hrs that moring an cause i stayed up all night my e-mail i sent using my new outlook an hotmail merge account never got sent only in my outbox. so i dunno if this is a scam or not but i havnt been asked to pay this guy calling me any thing only weird thing is day before friday he called me and asked me how our my funds coming. and i was like huh but just thought maybe he ment my plan and he said he would be in the office on friday for 2hrs ,,, newyears eve day. anywas cant hurt to send it out now. unless they try an take my plan an start up the company i wanted 2

  29. It's a scam, pure and simple. The only defenders are always the same people. Shame on me for being duped and not doing more homework on LGO and it's "directors & prinipals". What is a Micro Grant anyways? Ethan Roberts states above "the remaining funds IF ANY are given in MICRO GRANTS" !!! Wish I would have read that a few weeks ago. I thankfully stopped the madness at the requested "due diligence" items. I called "Shelley Barnes" and was horrified by her tone and unprofessional manner. It was if I was talking to a chain smoking convict from her cell. If it smells like crap and looks like crap...its CRAP! I don't need to eat it to make sure. However...I still have a bad taste in my mouth. Some must have came through the phone that day.
    Does anyone notice that "Shelley" & "Ann" are reps for the US and Canada? Smells funny to me. It's disgusting that the BBB in Canada gives them a A- rating. Shame on them too. I feel bad for people who wasted even more time than I did. It is simply cruel to prey upon people who are only trying to get some help with their ideas. I'm sure that the business plans submitted are safe from being implemented by the above crooks...that would take work. I highly doubt they even read them. They are in it for the 'con-sulting fees" thats it. One thing I know for sure...they will reep what they sow. This will be a news/scam story soon enough.

  30. I also applied for the leadership grant last year 2010. After countless hours, and getting my grant in ON TIME ! I was told it got "LOST"
    I sent my Purolator Courier confirmation to them and then they sent me an email back saying I didn't meet the deadline. After calling Shelley Barnes - I was told - that was a mistake and she corrected her email to me. IT was at this point I knew I wouldn't be getting the grant - because if they lost my couriered application - then said oh it's okay now we found it. BS !!! So then I was excited about 6 weeks later I got a reply asking for everything dilligence letters from my bank and asked for my credit bureau (Personally). I didn't send this - as I think sending your personal credit bureau to someone you can't confirm or authenticate their office is just plain STUPID. If your a business owner and sent this - your business is gullable and you need to be aware of scams out there.
    I was denied my grant of course.
    I actually called two grant recipients and confirmed they received money. However, the names have been the SAME on their web site for the past year !!! I thought they did quarterly grants ???

    Note to self: When something doesn't feel good - don't do it.

    Are they a scam ? Who knows but something is up for sure... their is doubt !!! As things don't all add up for sure.

    God bless everyone for trying... whatever their intentions are - good or bad... they need to ensure they address the situations brought up on this blog. I would if I were a diligent grants organization.

    Perhaps they are just too busy getting too many applicants and can't keep up. Maybe it's just a serious tax write off and way to keep another loop hole in the legal system for whatever illegal scam they are running.

    One thing I know for sure.... if there is any doubt just DON'T DO IT. Don't waste your time.
    I am not sorry I did - because now I have my copy of my business plan it made me think and analyze my business.

    Let's look on the upside - Lesson learned !!

    I hope for the sake of mankind this is not a scam and is a real organization.

    Take care fellow entrepreneurs !

  31. I say let's call myth busters on this one ! !

  32. I am very glad to have read this. My deadline is February 4th, 2011. I have had a similar conversation with "Shelley" where she was very rude and unprofessional. She would cut me off and at one point said "I don't care why you need an extension". Please note that the "business plan template" they have as one of their resources is the exact same one found on Biztree.com. There are free downloadable documents from their "Business-In-A-Box" service which includes every conceivable form, letter or financial statement template your business could possibly need. Please note that the one (business plan template) available from LGO has been modified to state "Be sure to answer the following questions that are usually asked by our Review Panel". The original from Biztree states "Be sure to answer the following questions that are usually asked by potential investors". I have also now confirmed that the marketing plan template on the LGO resource center is the same as the one in Business-In-a-Box. I encourage readers to go to Biztree.com and check it out. They even allow you to download Business-In-a-Box (please read the user agreement carefully before proceeding). I hope this information is very helpful, I appreciate everyone's input as it has saved me from further exposure to LGO. I will not submit my business plan as I too believe there is a risk they might either plagiarize it or outright steal it. Like the others, I don't regret this as it has forced me to actually put my business plan in writing which is not a waste of time.

  33. I would like to thank everyone for their responses to this blog. I have recently applied for the LG but after reading this I will stop wasting my time. For anyone living in Ontario Canada looking for business funding, check out the Ontario Self Employment Benefit program. Its run in conjunction with Employment Ontario and in my region Niagara College.


    1. Thanks aaron, it is very kind of you to provide the link. best of luck.

      I have been working very hard on my extensive business plan which can now be put to better use.

  34. Thank you all for starting this blog. Unfortunatly, I had already submitted my Pkg before this blog started. My pkg was submited Oct 2010 and I am still waiting for an answer. I will keep you posted on the results. I just hope and pray that this is legit.


  36. Good point. My assumption is that only those who have submitted a business plan and/or have paid any funds to either LGO or their "sponsors" have grounds for any legal recourse but if this is started and there is a need for some type of supporting witnesses, I would be more than happy to oblige.

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  38. Hi All,

    I am planning on submitting a business plan shortly. The one thing that I see lacking from everyone's comments is a concise explanation of their experiences. I have some doubts about this organization. However, like a few of you, I have already gone through rigorous preparation and my plan is already complete. Our company's product is very difficult to duplicate so I am not concerned about the LG taking my plan and selling it to others. Our market is a niche market and will not attract any bloodsuckers that are looking for a good idea. Wish me luck!

    Here's my experience to date.
    I had a brief conversation with Shelley a couple times over the past few months. Overall, like many, I found her to be very cold and matter-of-fact with me. Basically, not the kind of person I would have operating my phones.
    I opened my account with LG mid-January and received a “thank you” email instantly. The email informed me that Derek would contact me from http://canadabusinessplans.org/.
    In less than 24 hours I received an email from an Administrative Assistant from Business Plans International. On behalf of a “Mr. Ho.”
    The email address was from an “@businessplanservices.org” email address. The office location in the signature is:
    Business Plans International
    460 Richmond St. West
    2nd Floor
    Toronto, Ontario M5V 1Y1

    1001 SW 5th Avenue
    Suite 1100
    Portland, OR 97204
    United States of America

    Tel: 1-800-481-8434 Ext. 2243

    NOTE: This email did not come from Derek from Canadian Business Plans.

    Here is the message I received:

    - - start of message - -
    Nice to meet you - I'm Mr. Ho's Administrative Assistant.

    I'd be happy to set up a complimentary needs assesment for you, with one of our Business Plan Representatives. Assesments are free and last for about 15 - 20 minutes.
    I have openings between 8am to 8pm EST. Please reply to this email and confirm an available time and contact number which we can reach you. If it's easier to book by telephone, please feel free to call me.
    Best regards,
    - - end of message - -

    Two days later I received an email from Shelley (probably automated) reminding me of my submission due date.

    Stay tuned... I’ll keep you posted on updates. So far, there are couple red flags.

  39. wow... I was actually excited to start the process.. but not anymore! Thanks Katie, I was going online to show my husband the website and as I was typing your blog came up! How ironic!

  40. SCAM, SCAM by all meaning of the word. Please whatever you do, do not go through these people. If you read the information "Estelle" wrote, the exact same thing happened to us. I'm hurt but refuse to let these S.O.Bs destroy my dreams. As another person wrote, nothing is Free. Another question is to ask them is why are they not allowed to loan in the US now? Just ask …..

  41. Best put your business plan under your pillow if you believe in the business fairies.
    If you are awarded a 'micro' grant it wont pay for your postage.

  42. Yep this is indeed a company that will string you on and give you false hope. My daughter spent hours and hours on a business plan, had several experienced people read it over. It was perfect. Next step Credit ck and proof of match financial funds from the bank, done. Everything they needed we provided. We thought we had the grant in the bag. Guess what, they also sent us a letter that we did not have suffient proof of matching funds. What more could we have provided. We gave them a letter signed by the bank manager proving the matching funds. We didn't use any of their recomended services for the business plan so we are not out any of our money, just false hopes, wasted time and a bruised ego!!! DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME ON THIS , UNLESS YOU WANT EXPERIENCE IN WRITING A BUSINESS PLAN, CAUSE THAT IS ALL YOU'LL GET OUT OF THIS. Signed: Stupid to fall for it!!!

  43. Hello,

    I also submitted a business plan to the LGO with credit report etc. Haven't heard anything back as yet, but I guess I am not going to. It is just to bad that people don't see this earlier. There are a lot of bad comments here and not one good one.

    Just from the comments you can tell it is a scam. Ethan is not justifying anything. What's to say the "expenses" Cough payroll don't go up every year so there is never any money left over.

    Anyway you look at it this is a scam and it should be stopped. It doesn't feel very good that those kind of people have what I have worked so hard on over the last 5 years, along with my credit report.

  44. Hi,
    My deadline is next week, and am so glad I came across this blog. I was already stressing over, wanting to extend the deadline. I just finished the "Starting a Small Business" seminar series at Toronto Business Development Centre. The last seminar was on financing and I asked the facilitator what he thought of LGO, and showed him their brochure. He said, don't do it, you are wasting your time, no one gets anything out of them, their very website is missing too much info. Besides, my husband works for a bank and all he does is deal with small businesses and read their business plans all the time to approve the bank loan. He said the only thing he was surprised with LGO is that there is particular form they should provide you with, which is an assurance that your BP will never be disclosed to any third party, or something like that. Banks do it.
    I'm glad I read this blog, I'm going to work hard on my business plan now and put it in action right away. But I will not give it to them.

  45. Thank you for this thread. It is tempting to follow leads to "free" money and doing so led me to the Leadership Grants (LG) organization for help in getting my business off the ground. I had assumed the program was too good to be true and was not going to contact them. Subsequently, I had a conversation with a legitimate Canadian government loan funding group who had a link to LG on their website and provided assurances to me that it was a legitimate group, although no one they knew had ever received funding. I did send initial contact information to LG, but after reading these entries, this will be as far as the process goes with them. As well, I have advised the government organization I talked to, to take a look at this blog thread. A good thing that has come out of all of this is that I am now more motivated to create a business plan, which was something that wasn't really on my radar before. Thank you to the other writers who have provided references to business plan sites, and reinforced for me the incommutable value of hard work in turning visions into reality.
    P.S. Katie -- I love the quote at the top of your site. All the best to you in your bookstore endeavour. L.

  46. Many thanks to all for the insightful information on this blog. I was planning to send my plan to LGO next week so timing couldnt be more perfect. I had already developed my own business plan but was invited to send it to the BPI sponsor for a "Free" review to see what if anything could be improved, to understand the cost of consulting. There were no pressure tactics but, thankfully, I had the snr consultant I spoke with sign a confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement in advance. To my surprise, he said the plan was fine and that there was nothing he would change, then wished me luck with the application. But after reading these comments, I've decided against sending my plan to LGO and risk any further exposure to them. Thanks for raising the alarm, Katie!

  47. Scam - Well after reading all the above comments, i was surprised seeing the name Shelly Barnes. Through our back and forth emails, i remember that i wanted to come and discuss my busniness plan with the advicer, but i felt that they prefer doing that through a phone interview. So, i guess all of you know their address which is
    busiThe Leadership Grants Organization of Canada
    C/o: Grants Review Panel
    1920 Yonge Street, Suite 200
    Toronto, ON M4S 3E2
    and guess what, after i googled 1920 Yonge Street, Suite 200, I got this:

    Progressive Lawn Maintenance & Snow Removal Show border

    1920 Yonge Street, Suite 200 Toronto, Ontario, M4S 3E2 work416-572-7747
    surprised and shocked.

  48. Thank you all again for your feedback. I am so sorry that so many people have been affected by this, but I'm grateful that you all are willing to share your experiences in an effort to prevent others from going through, at best, a waste of time, and at worst, a waste of (very) hard-earned money. Best of luck to everybody in your business endeavors!

  49. Guys, I would like to sue the Leadership Grant Organization of Canada nad the Canada Business Plan. Anybody interested in joining me?

  50. Hi, I thought I would share my experience. Always optimistic, often disappointed.

    The first red flag I had was when I came across the website. They spent a lot of money on the SEO. How could they afford to be so optimized?

    I spoke with Shelly on the phone. She was pretty horrible, I got icky vibes from her.

    Second red flag was when Shelly sent my information to a third party without my permission, Shannon at Canadian Business Plans.

    Hello Lindsay ,

    I'm writing to let you know that I mailed your Welcome Guide by Canada Post and wanted to mention that I took the liberty of including a brochure from Canada Business Plans. (www.canadabusinessplans.org)

    Canada Business Plans offers business plan consultation and writing assistance to entrepreneurs like yourself and they have special packages and programs for Leadership Grants applicants, so I felt an introduction may be useful to you and have included their manager, Shannon in this email thread. (Shannon's toll free number is 800-481-8434, Ext 2243.)

    Shannon, when you get a moment, please get back to Lindsay with some more information regarding your services.

    Lindsay , if you already have a business plan, or if you don't need assistance preparing your business plan, please 'reply to all' and let Shannon know so he doesn't take up your time.

    Thanks everyone, I hope this introduction was helpful!

    Sincere regards,

    Shelley Barnes
    Applicant Support Services

    I decided to have consultation call will shannon from the Business Plans International writing service.

    Red Flag - she tells me that today of all days is the last day of a deal they have where they include the financials with the business plan. Usually an additional $1500 charge. She also boasts that if they applied for the extension on my behalf, I would get it. What kind of business plan writing service has week long deals? I respectively declined.
    - She sounded old... grandma con artist?

    But always looking at the world through my rose colored glasses, I continued to spend every waking our gathering research and finishing my business plan... that brings me to finding this blog...

    Thank you Katie.

    I won't waste any more of my time... I hope no one else does either. They are totally praying on people's hopes. It's sick.

    And that email they send you was such an overworked pile of garbage. Sounded nothing like a professional grant program.

    Fishy fishy.

  51. I've done some research into Leadership Grants, as both myself and a classmate in my entrepreneurship college program are considering it. This blog has helped me confirm many suspicions that something isn't right.

    I also found that North End Home Inspections, one of the recent grant recipients, has a website, but it's broken. Their Facebook group seems riddled with pyramid scheme ads and the like. Also, TSR Virtual Solutions' website (another supposed recipient) looks like it was designed by a five year old, and displays the LG banner at the bottom proudly.

    I can't say what this means for Leadership's legitimacy, but hopefully this can help anyone else doing research.

  52. I was leary of this from the start, and I'm glad I trusted my gut. A quick internet search found this blog, which has saved me from a big waste of time.

    The "Calgary" office is a Regus center, where you can rent a single cubicle if you want and have the benefits of a central receptionist to answer phones and greet guests. I called the number there and guess who I spoke to? Shelly of course!! So it appears they just forward those phones to T.O.

    I'd like to think that this organization is just trying to sell business plan writing services, but my opinion would be that they are actually trying to obtain great ideas to copy and/or sell.

    My mom told me as a kid to not accept candy from strangers. That same advice applies here.

  53. I have recieved money from the Leadership Grants Organization. From my experience they are not a scam organization. It was a very easy process.

    For those complaining, maybe you just didn't have the greatest business idea, or something was wrong with your application. Even if you have a good business plan, and all criteria, you may not recieve money as I'm sure hundreds of people apply and there is only limited funding available.

    My website is www.adrenaline-productions.ca and you can contact me at ben@adrenaline-productions.ca. I won't be able to help much beyond telling you they are a legitimate organization and recommending you apply.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Considering this web site connects you to a page that wants you to agree to an install package, Ben, your recommendation doesn't hold much water!! What does your company actually do?

      And for you to say it was actually a very easy process, after so many stories of people working hard and waiting, makes me think that you must be part of the scam!

      If you aren't willing to be of much help, why are you coming on here with your testimonial? Why not provide some more actual FACTS about your experience, otherwise, you are just strengthening the resolve of those of us that see this as a scam.

    3. www.adrenaline-productions.ca -- this website doe not work ( So that means this story of receiving money is false)

  54. 9 months of this blog, 52 negative comments, one supposed good comment, hmmm...

  55. HI EVERBODY. SORRY FOR SCREAMING HERE (CAPITAL LETTERS), BUT I WANT TO BE NOTICED. I'M ORGANIZING A GROUP LEGAL ACTION AGAINST THE LEADERSHIP GRANT. My business idea had been supported by many grant organizations, I have three Masters degrees, but Leadership Grant not only didn't give me the requested grant, but stole my private informations and didn't keep the idea confidential. Im suing them and would like people in similar situation to contact me. Together we can finish off this scammers and their supporters. You should know that the company belongs to the owner of Ashley Madison - bastards, who make money on enabling people to cheat on their spouses. Well, let see if the law in Canada has anything to say about this situation. If you are interested, please contact me at kpictureproductions@gmail.com.

  56. Hi. I contacted them 2 days ago (online application) and have received 2 E-mails from the today. They want to talk to me over the phone needing some extra details. So it sounds like I shouldn't do that? And of course give no financial institution info, SIN# or anything like that. It's too bad I'm unemployed,53 and want to move and spend my last years in B.C. I do have enough in RRSP's to finance the move and buy a mobile home. I think my chances of getting a job there would be better than here (Stratford,ON). But the whole thing would be scary and risky. I have successfully quit smoking and drinking though and I would feel better living where mountains to see everyday. I wish I could get a sizable grant to buy a better home and make a go of self employment, perhaps including my youngest daughter. Feel free to E-mail any helpful advise to
    kirkby.john@gmail.com If interested I could forward the Leadership Grants messages to you also. Thanks John

  57. Anyone can register a "legitimate" not for profit and get a registration number...its a joke how these people put it on their site as though it gives them credibility....here's what they do....they generate leads for business plan services under the lure of free money, then their ASSOCIATES (NOT THEM, see what shiesters) make money from that and kick much of it back to them from which they make token grant awards of a few gran here and there, almost like an advertising expense....I have called their so called grant recipients...also,they go to great pains to appear legitimate...funding cycle my #$%% they were unable to find anything wrong with my plan....better educated than them had the money, unimpeachable credibility...they asked for proof of substantial funds, I provided it...then they apologized they could not accomodate me...they are clowns and jokers....think ablout it...their so called "donors" the the business plan guys...lol...and I guarantee no one has even gotten more than a few grand, here or there....I called them

  58. Thank the good lord for Google! I knew there was something up with these people and now it's in the clear. The one person who claims he got money from these robbers has a cheapo "website" (a page) that links to a facebook account where he puts his logo on pictures and posts them for 40 followers. I'm SURE that's what a legitimate grant association would be tripping over itself to finance :)


  59. Hello all,

    I applied and got all my due diligence items together for the March deadline of 2011. I just received in the mail today (July 28th) my denial for approval from the committee stating the reason was probably because I did not have matching funds. I submitted every piece of due diligence that they requested including proof of matching funds; it therefore irritates me when they decided to throw out a random comment assuming that is why I was denied funds. I have a degree in Business Administration and have a thorough understanding of running a business so if they were to tell me I was denied because they felt it wasn't viable or that I was not in need of the grant I could accept that, but to say it was due to reasons that I fulfilled that makes we feel that I was one of many others who just got the same letter sent in the mail.

    I do not regret preparing for the grant and getting my business plan together because it will make the process for applying for creditable grants that much easier and I feel it is an accomplishment to write my plan from start to finish and is great experience. However, I do truly believe after gong through the process and doing more research on the company that their main line of business is not providing grants but taking money from individuals who choose to use their other services.

  60. Interesting, when you email them that you do not want to work under the time constraints that have set and ask for your application to be suspended until you re-contact them, they tell you that you have to wait 12 months and need to use a different email than the one you used for your original application. Why would a legitimate grant program impose a 12 month delay for re-application, all because I told them that I wanted to take my time with the business plan development and was going to work with local organizations for assistance. Why would I need to use another email address, the application is for the same individual same idea. Glad to be done with this!

  61. Thank you everyone for posting to this site. I am so glad I chose NOT to share my proprietary information with this company. I looked for this company on Google street view. It is in a building at 1920 Younge street in Toronto, ON supposedly. I then called a few of the other merchants in the building to find out if they knew of their fellow tenant. One woman wisked me off the phone and wanted absolutely nothing to do with my questions. She did give me the superintendents phone number though. Another company indicated to me that Suite 200 (as they list) is a floor with the most number of businesses. She indicated it was shared office space. I don't think I am going to take this any further. Also, when you search the address in google maps, Leadership Grants is not listed as a business at this address. That may or may not be relative, but its all the proof I need; That and everyone getting the same rejection letter.

    I would expect that if someone can take the time to review your business plan and make a decision, they can at least tell you why you didn't make the cut.

    Liz another Concerned Canadian

  62. I wish I had read this blog prior to forwarding a great deal of personal information to this organization.

    When we started our business we were self funded but always interested in opportunities for additional funding. Our business plan was prepared, along with confirmation from our bank of matching funds.

    We applied and forwarded very detailed information about our business to Leadership Grants and awaited a response. I now wonder if this isn't a tool to allow those involved with the organization to drum up business ideas????

    We contacted the organization recently to try to determine the status of our application and were advised by e-mail that they had not yet made their decisions for this cycle but would do so in late September or early October. That very day I received a letter by mail advising that we had not qualified for funding. The letter went on to say that they were not able to comment as to why we did not qualify but the typical reason would be lack of matching funds. That struck me as odd (both the timing and comments) as we had included letters from our banker advising that we did indeed possess matching funds.

    What is not a surprise is that my e-mail asking why the process unfolded as it did have gone unanswered.

  63. I applied to this before and my gut said no when the stage came to supplying credit information.I asked again after my business has grown to apply. My gut again rebels. Thanks for the posts and investigation. I am better off to keep working my backend off on my own business and spending the hours promoting etc.

    1. I am (was) in the process of sending my business plan to the Leadership Grants Organization....

      Also I have contacted: Canadian Grants Business Center and they want $699 just to apply for 600 programs...fishy, right?.... they do not communicate by e-mails.... WHY?...I have googled them = scam. I have googled Leadership Grants Organization and found this discussion... THANK you all....and Google...another Concerned Canadian

  64. My submission deadline for my proposal was June 8th, 2011. The review panel was supposed to review applications in October, 2011. I contacted them in September asking when I should be expecting to hear something. My reply from Shelley Barns at LGC was by the end of the year. It is now February 2nd 2012 and 8 MONTHS after applying for my grant I have not heard anything!!! 8 months!!!! I've contacted them several times to see what was going on and the response I get is that 'the review panel is made up of VOLUNTEERS and they have to work around their schedules!! REALLY? So frustrated.

  65. Katie, you've done a real service for everyone. I would suggest that anyone interested in reporting "www.leadershipgrants.ca" organization as a scam should contact:
    RCMP Phonebusters. You can google the name and it will take you to: www.antifraudcentre.ca
    The following information is quoted directly from that site:
    It's not always easy to spot a scam, and new ones are invented every day.

    If you suspect that you may be a target of fraud, or if you have already sent funds, don't be embarrassed - you're not alone.

    If you want to report a fraud, or if you need more information, contact The Canadian Anti- Fraud Centre:

    Toll Free: 1-888-495-8501

    Toll Free Fax: 1-888-654-9426
    Email: info@antifraudcentre.ca

    I was fortunate enough to find them when I was involved in an internet scam. If you don't get your money back at least you know there's a team of RCMP members devoted to gathering information and chasing these scammers;charging those they can catch in the act. They were great to deal with. They made me feel like a hero, not a dunce, for getting caught up in the scheme. Getting involved is a miserable experience and like any theft, it leaves you feeling violated and it leaves you feeling like a simpleton, a ninny a sap; take your pick because you fell for scam. You have no one to blame but yourself.
    Katie and the rest of you I can't thank you enough for being there when I needed you. The Holy Spirit is really looking after me! You are angels.
    I too sent in an application to this site. I took it as legitimate because it came from:
    "Alyssa Gregory, your Guide to Small Business Information" site. I subscribed to the Newsletter a couple of years ago and have found her Canadian content to be very good. I've used a few of her resources and they have been a real help. I got suspicious myself when I received a call from Rose Green from "Insight Communications". When she introduced herself she said I had requested her to call and she honoring my request. I told her that I had no memory of asking for help with my plan and I had no idea if I would get an extension. When she told me I must've "hit a button with her name on it accidently", I couldn't argue with that, but then she added that I "had recieved the extension"; bells went off, but as I talked to her she sounded sincere and very interested in my type of business. Then she told me she could do my plan for me for $2900.00 and I could make it in 3 payments.I told her I'd have to think about it and she asked when would be best to get back to me and I told her Monday. I can't wait to get her on the phone on Monday! I'll let you know how it goes. We all need to contact the antifraudcentre.ca to let them know that we think we've been approached by a scam. That's the only way we'll see justice. If enough of us alert the RCMP maybe they'll post it on their site.
    Thanks for giving me a chance to have a voice in your blog, Katie.

    I was searching her name and the website of her company and it just wasn't making sense. Having been bit once makes me very dilegent on getting all the facts. I would never give my credit card number over the internet again, not even for my favorite charity. Unless I know it's a secure site like Paypal, where they guarantee the company is ligit or your money back, there's no way they'll get money from me.

  66. Yes indeed, isnt the internet a quick and resourceful tool....
    Thanks to Katie and all the contributors on the blog to date.
    I first learned of LGO 3 days ago....submitted an application as a lark to see what would transpire, and sure enough everything that has been mentioned above happened within the first 48 hours. I even received an email from the business plan writing service trying to hock there wears after I told Shelley I wouldn't need assistance. That's when I jumped on the 'net' to do some research......low and behold.....here I am...lmao.
    Scam or not....I feel bad for those that spent big money in hopes of getting free money....I truly hope you got in return a professional, accruate and polished business plan.
    If nothing else, to all the entrepeneurs out here....you really needed a business plan anyways! Just maybe not one to be put together in less than 6 weeks and incur all those extra hours and sleepless nights.....

    Well all I can say is.....Here's a big Trudeau salute (inside Canadian joke for those Americans on here) to all of those associated with LGO.....

  67. Well this is disappointing. I'm not convinced they are a scam but it does seem fishy and when I started the process I had some reservations but the contact persons were very professional with me. I did decide to order a business plan and I am currently working on it with Insight Marketing. The price is steep but this kind of thing takes a large amount of work and the company seems really well organized. They have a series of questions you have to answer to help them create the plan and my consultant responds to me quickly and she is supposedly an MBA and does these plan designs from home.

    Now, I figured I needed this plan for bank loans and to apply for other government grants and since my time is valuable and it would have costs me way more than 2900$ to create this myself I could justify the price...plus I can afford it so its no biggy. They ask you to pay half the fee in advance and the balance once you are satisfied...this makes sense to me because who would want to work and work and give you drafts and such and then close to the end you could just say screw them and leave with a mostly completed plan and they are stuck with the bill. I know you can get plans designed for cheaper by other companies but when they say 1000$ and you get your plan in 5 days it makes me feel like the resulting plan would be pretty bad. I'll have to see how this plan pans out for me but I have no reason to doubt that it will come out nice.

    Now for leadership grants... I understand their business model they claim to have and they seem legit, for now, but it wouldn't surprise me a whole lot that they aren't totally legit. Thing is all they have to do is pay themselves more wages for running the non-profit and then no one gets any grants but if they are smart all they have to do is give a few micro grants to keep this going forever and they end up having a nice little non-profit company that lets them earn a nice personal income that they generate from traffic and from commissions they earn from connecting business owners with business plan design companies. I wonder who designed their business plan :-P

  68. I too submitted my own business plan with ALL of the requested documents including matching funds and credit reports. That was back in October 2011, it is now April 2012 and still no word as to my application.

    I contacted Shelley on four (4) separate occasions inquiring as to my application status and every time she reply via phone (blocked number?) all she could tell me was "decision letters" have been sent out and there is no notice from the committee in my file as to what decision has been reached. Considering the length of time of my application suffice to say, my application has been rejected. Who am I fooling? My (our) applications were never considered. It was simply a ploy to get us to use their high priced business plans.

  69. I now have PROOF that Leadership Grants is a SCAM!! You can read the email thread between me and Shelley Barnes at the end (I removed my email and last name for privacy).

    Here is the story.

    I applied for the grant back on Oct 25, 2011, and their quarterly deadline was Dec 2011. Shelley Barnes told me that I would receive a decision letter "in the mail" by Mar 2012 at the latest.

    So in 2012, I emailed Shelley Barnes on Mar 2 and Mar 27 asking about the status of my grant decision, to which she basically told me to wait for a decision letter "in the mail".

    On Apr 25, 2012, I finally got tired of waiting, so I did a google search on Leadership Grants, and it turned out that lots of people are suspicious of it being a scam.

    The first thing that I did was to log in to my account on www.leadershipgrants.ca to see if there have been changes to my account (ex. Preparedness Rating, Business Plan Rating, Funding Status, etc). For those of you who have applied before, you should know what I'm talking about.

    After seeing NO CHANGES to my account, I decided to email Shelley Barnes again at 4:52am PST this morning (as you will see below).

    And guess what?

    Shelley Barnes replied the following at 7:36am PST (or 10:36am EST, which is her time). She told me to log in to my account and check the funding status instead.

    OH!! REALLY??!! So immediately after my email, Leadership Grants no longer mails out the decision letter to all applicants??!! My one single email changed their entire business process??!!

    Here is the best part……

    By following Shelley Barnes' advice, I logged in to my account, and long and behold, my funding status shows "Rejected" !! My grant got rejected 2.5 hours after I sent my last email to Shelley. Definitely NOT a coincidence!

    Leadership Grants is a SCAM!!

    1. Here I am, just over a year later, and almost the same thing happened to me. I emailed her, she said that they no longer mail out the decision letter and that I should look to my online account for any further questions and correspondence shouldn't be directed to her.

      I was sad, but there are still other, legitimate grants out there. I have an excellent plan (written over hundreds of hours by myself) and matching funds and solid financials.

      I generally pride myself on doing the research, but I heard about this grant from a friend and their website looked legit. I should have googled deeper. I'm more disappointed in myself than anything else that I fell for it even though I didn't pay them for my business plan.

      My husband gave me the heads up when he questioned why they didn't say anything beyond "rejected". Frankly, a legitimate organization would give some feedback. I would have accepted that my first year margins were low or that they felt the industry was unstable. Despite all of this, we have started our publishing company and will continue with or without their funding. We represent some amazing authors and I'm really glad that I did contingency planning.

  70. Below is the email thread between me and Shelley Barnes.


    > Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2012 10:36:41 -0400
    > Subject: Leadership Grant
    > From: shelley@leadershipgrants.ca
    > To: Peter
    > Dear Peter,
    > All decisions are now being posted in the resource center. Please log
    > in to review our decision.
    > All the best,
    > Shelley Barnes
    > Applicant Support Services
    > Leadership Grants Organization of Canada
    > shelley@leadershipgrants.ca
    > Phone # 416-572-7694
    > > From: Peter
    > > To: shelley@leadershipgrants.ca
    > > Subject: RE: Decision (file #: 27659)
    > > Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2012 04:52:21 -0700
    > >
    > > Shelley,
    > >
    > > Another month has gone by, and I still have not received the decision letter
    > > that was supposed to be mailed out in Mar 2012. What is the longest period
    > > that an applicant ever had to wait to receive the letter?
    > >
    > > I did some google search on Leadership Grants, and I came across applicants
    > > who have applied in Jun 2011 (who have also contacted you directly numerous
    > > times) and still have not received a decision letter as of Apr 2012, not
    > > even a rejection letter. No panel of volunteers should take this long to
    > > make a decision.
    > >
    > > The extremely long waiting time is now concerning me. Please advise that
    > > your organization has indeed awarded, and continues to award, grants to
    > > entrepreneurs.
    > >
    > >
    > > Peter
    > >
    > >
    > >> Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2012 10:11:16 -0400
    > >> Subject: Re: Decision (file #: 27659)
    > >> From: shelley@leadershipgrants.ca
    > >> To: Peter
    > >>
    > >> Dear Peter,
    > >>
    > >> Our review panel is made of of volunteers. We have to work around
    > >> their schedules. It is our hope to have a decision letter out to you
    > >> soon.
    > >>
    > >> All the best,
    > >>
    > >> Shelley Barnes
    > >>
    > >> Applicant Support Services
    > >> Leadership Grants Organization of Canada
    > >> shelley@leadershipgrants.ca
    > >> Phone # 416-572-7694
    > >>
    > >>
    > >> On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 6:52 AM, Peter wrote:
    > >> > Hi Shelley,
    > >> >
    > >> > Has there been a decision on my file (#: 27659) yet?
    > >> >
    > >> >
    > >> > Thanks,
    > >> > Peter

  71. This comment has been removed by the author.

  72. I have just completed the process only to be denied a full year after the fact. It is disturbing to me to read the e-mail thread above as it is an exact replication of my own. Non matching funds was stated as the reason. Surprising as we placed $80,000 in an account specifically for this fund for five long months. As any small business owner will state an eternity. The lack of real information, timeliness, responsiveness is a concern. It raises questions regarding the ability of this fund to actually perform. I have applied and received funding from no less than five different funds and been approved in each case so it has nothing to do with the company or our abilities. My experience with funding organizations, investors is significant and I have written no less than four successful business plans and approximately thirteen marketing proposal both for myself and others raising over 2.5 million dollars and counting. My experience has also included a strong communication flow and solid understanding from both parties regarding what needs to happen when, who does what and expectations clearly set out prior to any undertaking. Because of this I have notified the organization that I will not reapply and expect them to confirm the destruction of any and all documents provided to them in response to the grant process.
    I would not recommend the process.
    RDC Inc.


    Posted By: Adjudication & Review Panel

    We respectfully regret to inform you that we are unable to accommodate your request for a small business grant.

    We apologize for any dissatisfaction and invite you to apply again next year.

    Yours truly,

    The Leadership Grants Organization of Canada

    IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Although we are not able to provide feedback to Applicants regarding their Business Plan proposal, please note that priority funding consideration was given to Applicants that were able to demonstrate Matching Funds.

    Matching Funds are characterized as "unencumbered, personal, new monies that will be invested into the business by the Applicant". (Shared risk Capital)

    Accordingly, the following are not considered Matching Funds: Working capital already on account; monies derived or realized from loans or debt instruments; costs or expenses already paid; physical assets purchased more than 3 months prior; time spent operating or running the business without pay; or, funds used to purchase Real Estate.

    If you did not provide proof of matching funds based on the definition provided above, then it is likely that the reason you were not considered for funding was because of the absence of matching funds.



  74. Thank you for posting this. I happened across this site today after trying to upload my due diligence items. The LGO website was down, which I found odd. I thought if I tried searching for the address (instead of typing it in the address bar) that I'd have success... and that's when I found this.

    I am so thankful that I did not upload my banking information. I, like the others, received the exact same correspondence with Shelley.

    I am deflated that I fell for this, but at least it's forced me to update our business plan and have a good solid direction for growth

    The non-profit side is a front to direct you to willingly spend your investment money on their for-profit businesses including writing proposals, consulting. etc.
    They are not qualified and they do not have business people giving them money to disburse at will. The mere idea of a large corporation needing a cover should sound like a deception. Just google the large corporations that have a philanthropic arm and the list is very long and you deal directly with them.

  76. This is a discouraging blog post, but I'm glad to have seen it.

    My brother and I have gone through the whole application process, including providing the due-diligence items, and are now waiting for a response. We've only been waiting a month, but I think I'll stop holding my breath. Fortunately, our business idea is relatively low-cost and we weren't placing all of our eggs in the LG basket. We were hoping to use LG to purchase new equipment and expand relatively quickly, but It's not the end of the world to grow a little slower.

    We also paid $350 to have Rick from Insights Marketing "review" our business plan. He seemed professional, but we became skeptical when we received his poorly-written and clearly not proofed review report that informed us of a myriad of typos and grammatical errors that would need to be fixed. We became more skeptical when we received a second email saying that we'd need to re-write our business plan (to fix a few typos?) and that Rick would be happy to do re-write it for us for the low price of $2700 (which we didn't pay).

    I hope this is not entirely a scam--surely someone other then Ben from www.adrenalineproducts.com has been funded, right? At any rate, we've been able to launch and move forward with our business regardless of LG and we hope you all can too.

  77. What a crazy world we live in. I applied to, and am disgusted to have been brought in even that far. For those of you who have actually paid money into this rotten operation, I am truly sorry. It must feel terrible, having the rug pulled out from underneath your feet.

    Has anyone gotten anywhere in terms of bringing legal action or fraud exposure against these dirtbags?

  78. Hi everyone...

    When I first saw this site I was so excited to submit my business, thinking I would be able to get a financial boost and get my business off the ground. They seem so legit!!
    So, I have spent countless hours preparing my business plan to submit for review. Told my family and friends about it. Our city offers free business plan reviews at the enterprise centre, so I thought I would let them review it before I submitted it (hoping to increase my chances of funding). I emailed the small business consultant about this site and their experiences with it. This is their response:

    "...As for the website below, our knowledge of it is unfortunately exactly what you feared – one of those government-looking websites that will charge you money for information you could find yourself and for business plan services you should be doing yourself. I encourage you to Google ‘leadership grants organization of Canada reviews’ and you can see some of the experiences of other hopeful entrepreneurs that contacted this service. From what I can tell, not great feedback on their services. ..."

    If a consultant at a legit Enterprise Centre, operated by the city, does not recommend this resource for funding - then don't apply!! These consultants are immersed in the business industry everyday. If LGO was good and legit - they would know about it.

  79. WOW, am I ever glad I came across this blog before wasting my time with this company. I thought it seemed a little funny when I received 2 letters from them within a week wondering where my business plan was. I couldn't believe somebody would actually be this anxious to give me money for nothing. I just cant believe they have been operating for over two years now.
    Its funny to see their address and suite number match that of the lawn maintenace company in the earlier post. Has anybody actually been to the 1920 Younge Street Suite 200 address?

  80. I have reported these crooks - •To file a complaint call your local police and The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

    Luckily found out they are scam artists before I went too far but I am very disappointed like you all

    Their Toronto address is an Executive office suite that takes care of many non-occupying tenants...certainly one red flag...also their quick follow up to get you to call "insights marketing & Communications" who asks for $$$$
    Ugh these people should be in jail

  81. I thank the writer for starting this blog. I came across their website and, as a lark submitted my info. I received a call the next day and received the paperwork a couple of weeks later. Something told me to be careful. When I thought about it - because you have to upload your business plan only by email, I thought - the scam could be taking peoples legitimate viable business plans and taking off with them and starting those companies. The business plan writing company is in Nova Scotia. I live in Ontario - why, in my right mind would I send it to them. You need a sit down with a company that is going to do this for you. I emailed my local regional small business consultant about them, and he said to be wary as his feedback was not complimentary. Which is why my search for public reviews. He was right - not complimentary - think I will pass and keep looking through other methods.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  82. Thought some of you could at least get a chuckle out of this; LGO of Canada has a fraud alert posted on their website (Aug, 2012):


    I haven't submitted anything to LGO Canada, but have most likely spent btwn 15-20 hours thus far on a fine-tuned BP. After reading most of this blog, and other posts online, there are many reasons to believe this "org" is a scam, namely because .....THEY HAVE ONLY TERRIBLE REVIEWS!! If there was an org out there giving grants to 90% of applicants, they would have glowing reviews and tons of press.

    CBC's Go Public should get an email: would be great to talk to some of the applicants here, who have actually given money to the consulting companies. Lets connect!!


  83. I am so glad I saw this. I was just looking up LGO and found this blog. I submitted a plan 2 yrs ago and was told I needed to provide proof of matching funds. We ended up moving and needed the money that we had saved to relocate. So I thought I LOST out. Apparently I LUCKED out! At least I didn't waste time on a pipe dream, of free money. All the waiting, woundering and hoping would have been painful. So here it is 2 years later and I'm thinking ok I have the money in place and I was already approved before. (If they are asking for proof of funds, that made me think that once they had confirmation I would recieve funding. Or do they just select everyone and see who looks worthy of ripping off after they get your finacials?) So I figured they would approve me again. I was just going to start the process all over again when I came across this. Thx for saving me a whole lot of time, stress and anxioty. I'll just go to a bank I have good credit and a great business plan ready. At least banks rip you off right to your face. $3 to use anouther banks ATM, robery. lol

  84. scores range from 300 to 850, with higher scores awarded to consumers who are perceived as posing a lower risk to lenders and vendors based on their history of credit usage. Scores are only as good as the information reported to the credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. visit my website

  85. Hi... thank you for writing this blog and investigating Leadership Grants Canada... I have submitted a business plan and am still waiting for a decision... I didn't go for paying someone to write my business plan partly because I couldn't afford it so I did it on my own... it was supposed to take 60 days for a decision to be made... as soon as I submitted my business plan in September 2012 the decision date changed to 90 days because it was all done by volunteers... I am still waiting for a decision... it is now January 2013...
    My concern is that they are getting other peoples ideas for business opportunities... not only the ideas but the actual plans too!... it is no small feat to write a business plan...
    And you are absolutely right about the difficulty in finding a grant that an individual can apply for... most research grants require an applicant to be employed as a professor and other grants require an equal financial investment on the part of the applicant... still others cannot be used for income but only for the cost of running the business or doing the research...
    Thank you again for investigating and writing the blog... I won't hold my breath for a favorable outcome from Leadership Grants Canada...
    J. P. Lyons, Ph.D.

  86. I find it interesting that the BBB now give them an A- and no longer an F with only 1 complaint filed that was not settled. I would suggest to all who have a gripe to complain to the BBB so the complaints are on public record.

    Thanks to all who have commented, I woke up in the middle of the night wondering about their legitimacy as I received a due diligence letter with mistakes in dates. I also had a difficult time getting any research data on their company. This blog has helped me make the right decision and not send in any personal information.

    I implore, please, if you can, complain to the BBB (bbb.org) - that will put the information out in a public record. By the way, this company is not a BBB member.

  87. hi, what about these people who received grants recently? they are listed on leadershipgrants.ca
    Name Location
    A. Nevoljic Mississauga, ON
    E. Bordeleau Montreal, QC
    A. Labrie Toronto, ON
    K. Wang Burnaby, BC
    D. Rennie Mississauga, ON
    K. Graham Toronto, ON
    G. Buddington Brampton, ON
    K. Moody Kimberley, BC
    D. Morrison North Port, ON
    K. Rodrigue Verdun, QC
    C. Atkins Harrow, ON
    K. McGrail Tupperville, ON
    V. Dunn Nanaimo, BC
    K. Fernandez Mississauga, ON
    B. Brown-Bentley Surrey, BC
    K. Parkes Orangeville, ON
    M. Hammond Stoney Creek, ON
    R. Wright Sharon, ON
    S. Reithmayer Ardrossan, AB
    J. Williamson Lindsay, ON

    1. Please note that these 'people' are last names without any indication of the surname. Without further data it is impossible to locate these people. There could be a dozen 'Nevoljics' in Mississauga, a hundred 'Bordeleaus' in Montreal...

    2. Interesting - two years later, and the list on the website is exactly the same as this. That's just sloppy!

    3. Interesting - two years later, and the list on the website is exactly the same as this. That's just sloppy!

    4. 2016 and still the same names. There are 3 companies listed at this address. When it looks too good to be true, don't do it

  88. It's companies like this that give other legitimate businesses an air of suspicion. As a business owner that has also been a Pastor and has a background of over 27 years in purchasing and contract negotiations, I get so angry when bad people attempt to defraud good people who are trying to make a better life for themselves. We all need help sometimes, and for those of us who cannot arrange for financing, free money in the form of a grant is always enticing. I myself was intrigued with their claims, but luckily research on the internet revealed consumer insights, like this blog, that have warned me and countless others to the danger of free money from unreputable organizations. I wish that there was something I could do for anyone that had their hopes and dreams crushed, but unfortunately I have no money to hand out! What I can do though, is maybe give you some dignity and hopefully help you put some faith back into good businesses and organizations that are truly trying to help others. I run a group purchasing organization that helps both small businesses and nonprofit, churches and charities to save money. What I'm willing to do is provide a free 1 year membership (to those of you that want it), in order to help you get your business off on the right foot. If you want to find out more about our group, take a look at either www.nppg.ca (Canada) or www.nppg.org (USA) to see the variety of vendors and services that we have negotiated deep discounts with. In order to get your free membership, please contact me at alex.golin@nppg.ca and make reference to this blog. There are no obligations or commitments you have to make, and no monkeying around from us. We want to be available to help you in any way we can. Seriously! Good luck in your pursuit of your things you are passionate about.

    Alex Golin
    President & CEO of NPPG inc.
    Helping those who help others.

  89. I asked for a list of grant recipients. Non-profits always make grant recipients public. In the US they have to do this by law, in Canada I'm not sure. But this response made it crystal clear to me. Its a scam and they should be stopped.


    Hi Shelley,
    Can you send me a list of companies that have received Leadership grants in the past?

    Shelley Barnes

    Jan 2

    to me
    Dear Rayann,

    Unfortunately I can not provide your with a reference. Aside from confidentiality, we wish to avoid putting applicants in awkward situations where they are asked to assist other applicants with their proposal, especially with the lure of a fee in the event of success.

    All the best,

    Shelley Barnes

    Applicant Support Services
    Leadership Grants Organization of Canada
    Phone # 416-572-7694

  90. Hello everyone

    My biggest concern and sincere suggestion to everyone is not to disclose your business plan to any third party organization or agency.

    Money is something that comes or flows automatically where there is a quality and consistency in what we deliver. It is an outcome of our hardwork and dedication. So, it is very easy to make at any cost



    It is more difficult to come up with the business plan than finding a source to run the business.

    Please do not reveal your business plan that can be sold to another company and encashed by an unapproved or unauthorised third party which is nothing but scam.

    Looking at all the postings here and on the other sites, I can guarantee they all will go behind the bars soon.

    Try Dragon Den or other investments companies directly.

    Good luck to everyone.

  91. i've figured out their business model and it's very smart, but pretty unethical, if you ask me.
    here's my suggestion as to what's going on:

    Part I

    1. They are a non-profit, which means that, in their annual reporting, they cannot show any type of profit from their business. Their expenses have to be covered in order for them to begin doling out the dough for grants, so if they receive $250,000 per year from sponsors, and they claim $249,000 in expenses, they just have to get rid of that extra $1,000. Keep in mind that expenses could be the office (which could be home offices for staff, meaning, rent and/or mortgage payments), vehicles to use for the purposes of meeting sponsors, travel across Canada and the US, computers, phones, etc. All of which is completely legal if they can prove that it's being used for the business.

    2. They get their money from "sponsors". Sure, you can call them sponsors, clients, advertisers or suckers, whatever works, but this is where the genius of it all comes in. You see, you, me and countless others from across Canada and the US, visit their website every day. Web traffic numbers are viable sources of measurability when it comes to advertising and promotion. They let their sponsors know that each site receives X number of visitors per day and, out of those visitors, how many of them turn into actual applicants? Most likely a significant portion, what with their alluring funding opportunities and seemingly 'ease-of-granting'. Now, here's where it gets good. They sell that idea to the sponsors so, for example, the company that wants to write your business plan for $5,000; "Hello, would you like the opportunity to speak to over 500 people per month about your services? That's 500 new leads every month! What's that worth to you?". I'd suspect that they may even get a kickback (as a referral commission) from companies who end up doing work for people referred through them (and if they aren't, then they should have worked that in). Every business needs new leads and what a tempting offer this is - the desperate small business owner who needs funding to get their dream going. Really, when you think about it, $5K is just a drop in the bucket when you can receive a grant for $50K, right? Easy (but predatory) sale. Again, all fully legal.

    (cont'd below...)

  92. Part II (cont'd...)

    3. When the time comes to hand out the cash, there's really none left because all of the expenses have been paid with it. How about publishing a list of past recipients? Their statement of Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure covers that here: "The Organization agrees that upon request, or upon completion of the Funding Cycle, the Organization will immediately and safely discard the Applicant’s Confidential Information." (so, that would be their name and business and even the amount that they were granted.). Man, these guys are impressive.

    4. Perhaps the most disheartening aspect of all of this is the fact that they can legally take your business plan and use it as their own. Whaaaat? Oh yes. Despite the website and the terms being hypocritical (between the Confidentiality and the Applicant Agreement), it's so vital that, before signing and/or sending anything to anyone, you read the terms and conditions and all legal documentation fully and thoroughly before submission. Hire a lawyer if you have to because it could save your financial (and personal) life. Check this section of their Grant Applicant/Recipient Agreement out: (s8) " I agree that Leadership Grants Organization MAY USE THE GRANT PROPOSAL and any other documentation submitted to the Organization, my name, and my picture as well as other independently gathered information about me or my company that is already in the public domain.". Oh yeah, and they also say that they have the right to share (read 'sell') your information (in the next paragraph)to third parties (so that makes more money).

    So here's what's going on - everything that they're doing is legal, but, in my opinion (and I'm sure many others'), unethical.
    There's absolutely nothing that anyone can do to stop them, except stop visiting the website and stop applying to them for funding, but the chances of that happening are slim because, well, most people want to get something for nothing.

    I'm not a lawyer (but should have been), just a small business owner who's trying to make a go of it and build my global empire, which is why I appreciate the concept of this endeavour, but can't support it.

    1. dont have to be a lawyer just go public with CBC's marketplace and expose them

  93. They gave me a deadline of just 12 days to hand in my business plan, I of course was very excited as I was approved to apply for a grant of 25000-50000! Wow!
    I work from 4:30am to 1:30pm daily, then 10 minute drive home, and then until maybe 12pm or 1am I have been doing my plan. My life is all over the place right now!
    Well it is 11:34pm as i type this. June 19th, my deadline date.. I need to submit my JUST finished plan before 11.59pm.

    I was sat there just going over my executive summary, over and over again, when I had a terrible feeling in my stomach, I am usually good with these kind of instincts, more so when driving, I know when to slow down when before I even see the cop!

    Seeing as I only had 20 or so minutes to research the company,this blog is incredible.

    I have an extremely unique business plan, it is exactly 135 pages of an extremely detailed and precise plan. I have been offered money via an family friend who is an investor, but he told me to try and get a grant first, (Good family friend)!

    Thankfully now, I wont be sending in my idea and work to a terrible business.

    Thank you Katie, If I do grow a successful business, there may just be a place for you!!!!!!

  94. Hello everyone,
    Thanks very much for taking time to blog here... I just recently submitted a request/ initial application, and I'm really glad I stumbled across this blog before going through what looks like an arduous, and painful process. I operate a legitimate marketing firm, and have been looking to grow as well. As an experienced marketer, I generally don't fall for this type of thing, but I have to say, this looked completely legitimate to me. Anyway, best of luck to you all in growing your businesses. If you need help along the way, we'd be to offer some legitimiate help to those who are serious about growing: www.lynkmarketing.com

    Laurie Decosse, CEO
    Lynk Marketing

  95. Excellent blog!!!! I couldn't sleep last night thinking about this ... thank you for dong your homework and posting!!!!

  96. Same deal here, the organization tried to sell me a business plan, spent HOURS preparing my own and received the 'due diligence' request- letter from my bank manager, letter committing funds to business and a credit report. They should have made these items a requirement with the original application, except that their real purpose is likely to discourage people from completing the application (because THERE ARE NO GRANTS AWARDED).

  97. I am so glad a friend of mine came across this blog. I have been writing my business plan and it is also a very detailed plan for a non competitive Business idea. The Leadership Grants Organization has been hounding me to get my plan finished and to submit it . I strongly believe that they are using our business plans for there own. I am very thankful for this Blog. Good luck everyone

  98. Thank you all, and most esp. Katie- for posting your hard earned wisdom here;i am very impressed with the degree to which many of you have investigated this!! I am now at the alleged 60 day point where i was expecting to get news.,i now know i can save myself the anguish of trying to wring blood out of a stone! i am very concerned however,about the intellectual property content-as i have an idea not currently used in my industry . also- I am with Sri SM that we should all move on to more mainstream and visable channels with our ideas. Take our lumps,but don't give up! Business is not for the faint hearted to be sure! If anyone here has the time in their life -while running a business- to start said class action suit,i am interested in hearing about it,because the big alarm bell came for me in talking to 'Derek' who told me that business's like mine are very ''hot''in the market right now,and warned me that what happens is little 'guys' like me reach a certain point, become visible, and that big company's have a army of people watching the market fro the new trends so that they can steal it and go big with it before you even have a chance!As far as i am concerned,that is exactly what they are doing here! The big bucks for them won't be in the little bit of money garnered from those those actually 'buy' the plans! It's only logical that they are selling any ideas worth their salt!
    As Sri SM said- it's good ideas,not money that is are hard to come by.I was looking for an easy route,i admit.Now that i am over that illusion,i can get on with it!!

  99. Katie,

    Thank you thank you thank you.....

    When something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Does anyone know of a legit organization that offers grants to young, honest hardworking entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas?

  100. I wish to have come across this scam before now. Well too late now.. My only regret was all the time spent but I told them I could get my own plan done by myself and never gave my dime. It's almost a year now with the process of their request of business plan and due diligence report with my bank manager's letter, matching fund and waiting and contacting with no feedback and bam, today or in few mins. ago, I emailed Shelley Barns to ask about my application status and her reply was 'I am sorry your application was denied" and went further to refer me to my online account to read information that was sent to me. I was about going into the website to login when this SWEET SMELLING SCAM... POPPED and I decided to read through all of your disappointments. Well, behold mine.

    Don't ever blame yourself for trying this whether you have lost money or time. You all are business entrepreneurs who never thought something like this will be a scam and you all are business entrepreneur who do business with trust and honesty. You can only get better from here.

    Move on and good luck in your business endeavours.

  101. Gulab Jamun is a melt-in-the-mouth dessert, which is very popular in northern parts of India. A wonderful gift to someone who is as sweet as Gulab Jamun.

  102. Went through the whole process, never sent money and my scanner broke just in time (was about to send credit report) Im saddened, and scared for what they do with our information. These ppl need to stop preying on us little people in the world with dreams to accomplish things. They are scum and KARMA will take care. Fly friends, reach the top and excel beyond boundaries. Thanks for sharing! I will share this blog with others and post on all my social media accounts a warning to others.

  103. I was inspired to proceed with a business idea when I saw this company, thinking that a person in my financial straits who could get government grant money to start my own business would be a life-changing thing. But as I am not from a business background, I was completely lost when it came to writing a business plan. When I filled out their online application for the grant I had expected their questions to be more detailed - all they wanted was address and contact info, type of business, the amount I was requesting (I figured $100k was being greedy so I asked for $50k), what funds I could contribute (what? Why would I be asking for money if I had money? Put $1k, even though I don't really have it), and what stage the business was in (I said the 'idea stage'). Didn't expect one click of a button to result in my application being accepted, with a phone call the next day on my answering machine telling me that a packet was in the mail.

    I fretted for four days, wondering if I was cut out to do all this stuff. I went online and checked out sample templates for business plans, and my eyes went out of my sockets - this is way beyond my ability without education or market data to analyze. The packet came in the mail, and I opened it warily - one pamphlet telling me how to log in to their system and find online resources... two flyers for 'consulting firms' that they recommended.

    I was wondering whether I was cut out for this when I got a call the next day, someone calling herself 'Rose' who said she worked for Leadership Grants. She asked me to explain my idea to her, which I thought was odd - it would be in the business plan later, after all... and I was worried about sharing the idea, especially if there was someone out there better suited to implement it. I'm guessing that she got the impression that the business plan was a problem for me, because she voluntarily told me that her consulting firm could do the plan for me.

    Then she hit me with the costs. If I had asked for $100k or over, the cost of the business plan would have been $5k. Because the business was smaller, it would -only- cost $2900.

    I don't have that kind of money to risk on something that I am not certain will succeed. She told me that my business plan would be put into a lovely leather-bound book... and I was thinking, "That's an expensive book!"

    I think she sensed my hesitation, because she quickly said that the money could be paid in two installments. Two? I interpret that to mean she wanted 'half up front'.

    Sorry, but being asked to give someone $1450 out of the blue is enough to kill my enthusiasm. I told her I'd find a way to make the business plan myself. She said that if I changed my mind to get in touch with her.

    After that, I went online, typed 'Leadership Grant scam' into Google, and found this blog. Now I am worried that I told her too much about my idea.

  104. I too smelled a rat, when in just a couple of days after contacting them, I received more than a few calls from Rose Green (INSIGHTS) offering to do the Business plan for $3500, and emails from Shelley Barnes (LGO) reminding me of the deadline etc. I instinctively felt that they were unusually eager to give me this grant. Common sense dictates that most people will make unusually more frequent calls when they are need something more desperately than if they were giving away something. So I immediately decided to search for reviews regarding LGO and right enough I came across Katie Gutierrez' pretty face and this blog......Thanks Katie, I knew I could trust my instincts....it's the way God designed all living creatures...especially us humans, because we have the gift of discernment and hence able to choose our actions well.

  105. They called me 5 minutes after submitting my original application wat a dead giveaway. and then i told this ladie all i need is a truck andshe followed with this moneys notfor toys i then let her know i plow snow and my truck iss my tool she then hung yp on me but said she will denie my claim but there all still contacting me to proced with there scam

  106. Hello, Katie! I am in the midst of writing a formal inquiry into Leadership Grants Organization of Canada that will be issued on a major, Canadian newspaper. Could I please have permission to use the information you gathered for this post? All recognition and acknowledgements will be given in regards to your contribution.

    You can reach me on the E-mail address linked to this Google Account or investigations@cwkunkel.ca with the subject "Leadership Grants Investigation" in case there is no E-mail visible through my account.

    1. Chris, just curious , was your inquiry ever published on a major Canadian newspaper?

    2. Chris, just curious , was your inquiry ever published on a major Canadian newspaper?

  107. This comment has been removed by the author.

  108. Hello! I appreciate all the comments and feedback about this issue especially to Katie with your courageous task to start this.

    Any more updates about this thread? Thank you!

  109. After doing some further research before submitting my business plan (which I am now not going to do), I find it odd that LGO has not awarded grants to anyone in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, or the East Coast. Further, like many of you who appear to have done some digging into this organization, I am unable to find ANYONE on their 'recipient grant recipient' list, or a positive experience except for the one above which isn't really conclusive in my eyes.
    A well-written business plan can be worth thousands of dollars, and with hindsight, I'm super glad I didn't submit mine. I have a degree in Business Management/Marketing and realize the value of our documents that have taken hundreds of hours to create.
    Time will tell with how long this organization can continue with its current operations before someone really loses their cool and it hits the fan!

  110. again has anyone ever though of going public and starting an investigation with CBC's Marketplace?

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  112. go public with CBC's marketplace

  113. So a friend gave me this information and I was going through the process of applying when I found this blog, I was lured in and had an appointment setup by Arlene Anderson to speak with a senior lending consultant at http://business-advice.com, he listened to my idea thought it was great and setup an appointment for Jan 8th 2016, it was proving hard to get everything they were requesting and they offered to write a 40 page business plan for a discounted rate of $3500 regularly $4000. Pretty steep for an entrepreneur that had already invested almost $18000 of my own money, so I declined his service. He then bluntly told me that "if I didn't plan on submitting at least a 40 page business plan for the $100,000 I was applying for I might as well not even try". Who is he to tell me that they can write my story and promote me better than ME?? Both Shelly Barnes and the Business-Advice consultant have emailed me again wondering if they can extend my deadline or help me?? with my business plan. Thank god I did not submit any hard copy ideas to them. Sadly a very good friend of mine that referred me to these guys paid over $500 for the service and he too didn't get the grant... I'm keeping all the emails and correspondence from them in case a legal matter ensues over my business idea being leaked. BEWARE!!!!

    Check out a legit business grant program at www.bdc.ca the current interest rates make it worth it.

  114. I was in the process of submitting an application when they asked me for the due diligence material. I called and talked with Shelly Barns, and ask for some information on Leadership Grants before I supplied them with any personal details. I ask for one reference of someone who had successfully been granted money though her organization - She promptly said they don't give out that information - and then when I said if you can't provide me any information of legitimate people with success stories of your service please delete my profile - she said she would and then hung up on me.
    Legit people with have legit references...and are not rude.
    Do not waste your time on Leadership Grants.

  115. I have also been in contact with Shelley Barnes - including having spoken with her on the 'phone. She does have a very abrupt and unprofessional edge to her communications - emails I sent seeking clarity of certain points received one-liner, unsigned acknowledgements, just seemed like an odd way of doing business.

    A few days after beginning to dialogue with Ms Barnes I bumped into an associate who has a legitimate, highly regarded grant application writing and funding acquisition business - with $ success amounting to many millions. I mentioned Leadership Grants and that I was considering sending in my business plan, with no malice whatsoever - it was suggested that I do my due diligence on them, as they would surely ask me to do the same.

    Part of that due diligence leads me here and I am grateful to those who have taken the time to post their thoughts and expereince.

  116. I am interested in starting an action against leadership grants for fraud, is anyone out there interested in joining me?

  117. I am interested in starting an action against leadership grants for fraud, is anyone out there interested in joining me?

  118. As an auditor, I've learned, the hard way, that integrity goes way beyond refraining from doing bad; It is to keep ourselves away from even looking like we are doing bad. It is a hard thing to do.
    Also, I learned, the soft way this time, that there will be no motion without a motivation for bringing a benefit or avoiding a harm.
    Why LGO would like to give grants? What is the benefit they are want to have or the harm they want to avoid? I think what we need from LGO management is a clear answer for this question, not the letter they posted in response to this blog entry.

  119. Oh My God.
    It is July 2016. This issue has been discussed since 2010. They are still working and making money and nobody could stop them.
    Just like you guys, I found the leadeshipgrants.ca online. I asked for 100,000. They asked for a business plan and gave me just a month. I started working on it. Despite LGO says we don't refer you to anybody else like business advisers, I was contacted by someone called himself Arthur Novak, Senior business consultant. He arranged a 20 minute-free consultant over the phone. Everything went well and finally I asked him to help me out in preparing my business plan. He said it would be $3500 which you must pay 50% to get started. The rest when we gave you the draft. I agreed. He said we accept Credit cards and Interac e-transfers. I said I am not comfortable giving my CC no. over the phone so I pay by cheque. He said I am sorry, we don't accept cheques. It was the point that rang a bell. After I hung up, I searched for some reviews about LGO and the page came up.
    I totally agree with you that it is a scam.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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    1. I stumbled across this blog about 30 minutes before my scheduled phone appointment. I've been self employed for 8 years and I'm currently expanding my business and seeking funds to accomplish the expansion. Needless to say, I know my way around the business world and do not need to hire someone to put a business plan together for me. The only reason I booked an appointment was because they had mentioned that one of the free services they provide was a review of my business plan. However, when I mentioned to Arthur on the phone that my business plan was already complete and that I was only looking to have it reviewed before submitting it to the grant board, I was told they charged for that service. I then said if that's the case, I have no need for their service, and was told that it would have been courteous of me to have cancelled my appointment with him ahead of time so they could have helped someone else. Seriously? Courtesy would be to not entice me with misleading information which was that the service for reviewing my business plan was free. I have yet to see anyone on this blog publish that Leadership Grants Organization of Canada is a legitimate entity which has helped someone secure financing.

  121. OK.....So now I'm definitely worried. I paid a total of $3675.00 to Business-Advice in two installments. The first payment was made on March 14th 2016 and the second payment was made on April 18th 2016. Everything has been uploaded to Leadership Grants -Business plan, supporting documents, references, details of capex required representing months of hard work. I am 62 and an immigrant to Canada and my son Mark (26) is an aspiring film director who started his business two years ago and today has a small and growing business. He needed funds to buy a RED Camera so I offered to pay for this business plan in the hopes it would help towards getting a grant for this purchase. I feel quite embarrassed. Graham Chisholm

  122. OK.....So now I'm definitely worried. I paid a total of $3675.00 to Business-Advice in two installments. The first payment was made on March 14th 2016 and the second payment was made on April 18th 2016. Everything has been uploaded to Leadership Grants -Business plan, supporting documents, references, details of capex required representing months of hard work. I am 62 and an immigrant to Canada and my son Mark (26) is an aspiring film director who started his business two years ago and today has a small and growing business. He needed funds to buy a RED Camera so I offered to pay for this business plan in the hopes it would help towards getting a grant for this purchase. I feel quite embarrassed. Graham Chisholm

  123. I was soooo close to getting scammed!
    I was going to pay $3500 to pay for business plan but my business coach talked me out of it.
    I was up all hours of the night doing this 50+ page business plan for myself and heckling my accountant to do the financial statements for me.
    I spoke with Shelly Barnes today who explained chances of getting grant is "very low" because the competition is "fierce". I asked her what percentage get the grant she said she couldn't tell me and that there are no longer names of recipients due to them being "harassed". I told her I will google reviews to find out through public forums . She wished me best of luck and hung up. Thank u for posting I'm not wasting any more time doing this detailed plan

  124. I was soooo close to getting scammed!
    I was going to pay $3500 to pay for business plan but my business coach talked me out of it.
    I was up all hours of the night doing this 50+ page business plan for myself and heckling my accountant to do the financial statements for me.
    I spoke with Shelly Barnes today who explained chances of getting grant is "very low" because the competition is "fierce". I asked her what percentage get the grant she said she couldn't tell me and that there are no longer names of recipients due to them being "harassed". I told her I will google reviews to find out through public forums . She wished me best of luck and hung up. Thank u for posting I'm not wasting any more time doing this detailed plan

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  127. What a disappointment!

    I am an innovator and a technical leader with a solid business plan. But it seems like my business plan is not as solid and secure as LGO's. These people are the kings of innovation. Just look at how they are making money off the most innovative and talented people alive (i.e., us). Naaa, we are still not as innovative or talented as the people at LGO. To the people at LGO: i am certain that by now, you can easily sleep at night; you are making good money by committing a sin (stealing people's ideas) and you have been doing it for a while. BUT, you are only human and on your death bed, you will regret all of this. Believe me, I have been there - I survived MAJOR organ transplant complications. But that is when it will hit you!

    Glad I did not share my business plan with these thieves.

    Cheers, Chris.

  128. You make millions stealing people's ideas while I can't afford an ice-cap. PLEASSSSSE, tell me your secret................. How do you live with yourselves?????


    I spent the last two months up all hours of the night trying to get a business plan finished. I submitted it last night and right after my intuition said to google "scam" with their name beside it. Well... was I ever surprised and disgusted. I should have known that it was too good to be true. Shame on me.
    Here is my story. 2 months ago, I applied. Of course Shelley Barnes sent me an email giving me a deadline and referred me to "Arlene" if i needed help with my business plan. (same email as everyone else got) I got a package in the mail from LGOC with a pamphlet for insights marketing. I thought what the heck, I will call them and see what they have to say. They gave the option of $3500 for 3 years of projections and $5000 for 5 years of projections. David was very convincing that it was worth it and they have great business plan writers. He said “look at it this way, spend $5000 to get $100,000 or don’t have a good business plan and risk $100,000.
    God Dangit I fell for it and gave him my credit card number. Silly old me... the people were so nice and helpful and I trusted them. I should have done more investigating before giving them $5000 to write a business plan.
    So anyways, I paid 1/2 upfront and the other half was to be paid after I got my first half of my business plan. The funny thing is I got an email that I had to pay the other half now that I got my first half of my business plan.
    Then I called to make a payment and the girl said the lady wasn’t in the office and that she would call me back to take payment. No one called me back... 5 days later I get an email from Arlene that she processed my payment since I never got back to them. Who the hell is Arlene in all of this, I have no idea still. I was pretty pissed they processed my payment without my permission. I told her I left a message and she said she never got it. This should have been my first flag. What type of business has practices like this?
    I called Shelley Barnes a few days ago to ask more details on the process and how it all works since there isn’t very much information on the website. She didn’t answer so I left a messaged. She called me back the next day. She was abrupt with me but answered my questions. This should have been flag #2.
    They did send me a freelance 3rd party business plan writer who just happened to be an expert in the business I am starting which now seems fishy…. I spent a lot of time with her over the phone and over email. She did provide me with a really good business plan that I still feel was worth $5000 but after talking to other writers they have told me it should never cost that much. I’m glad I at least got SOMETHING out of the $5000 that they took from me because I did get a business plan done but still…. This is probably why they give you a service so that they get less reports and can continue to stay in business.
    The same list of grant recipients that were there in 2012 are the EXACT SAME AS TODAY NOVEMBER 12, 2016 .
    I feel like someone just robbed my house. What a shit feeling.

  130. I work in corporate law, and I have never seen a certificate of incorporation issued as the one they have posted on their website as a PDF...I believe they tried to piece it together, but I can't even begin to imagine the examples they used to put such a horrendous thing together.

  131. This is a very strange scam. It's a half-scam. Usually scammers take your money and run, but these scammers seem to provide clients with a business plan (which we can all agree is time consuming to write) so entrepreneurs did get SOME value, albeit over-priced. I just signed up with them, was sent an email asking if I was interested in business plan services, I said no, and they said my deadline was a month from now. That was it. I didn't even take it further because when I was telling my husband, he asked "who are these 'business leaders, sponsors and private corporations'? And he was right. When I went back to the website, I couldn't find any information on who was funding this grant. If these are VC's or Angels or just fellow entrepreneur investors, they usually don't hide in the shadows. They are usually proud to support entrepreneurship and make it known. Maybe not the amounts they contribute but at least their names and links to their profile or LinkedIn or something! The truth is, the real business is business plan writing. They charge twice the price because entrepreneurs are excited about the grant. So a business plan that costs $800, for example, they charge $3,000 and get rich off the profits. But they do actually write business plans so it's not a COMPLETE scam.

    1. So basically the grant is just a ruse to get people to sign up for business plan services. They have no intention of issuing grants. They know people will be more motivated to buy over-priced services if they think they are getting a bigger reward in the end. Is that why these guys are still in operation after 6 years of complaints? Because technically entrepreneurs are getting SOMETHING for their money. This is a well-thought-out scam. It's a real shame that people put energy into scamming others rather than trying to grow legitimate businesses like the rest of us! Shame on them!

  132. Well, it is definitely a scam in my opinion. I started the process and very soon after I saw a red flag when they copied Business Advise or Insight Marketing, on the response to me. Started looking and I realized that:
    -it is a business that is registered as non profit, but not as a charity. That means their "Sponsors" won't get a tax deduction receipt when they donate. This is unheard of as getting tax deduction for big doners is very important and doners won't donate without the receipt
    - transparency is a big deal. Organizations who offer grants are very clear about how munch they can give every year, and they keep clear records about their clients and who got what. If someone is getting free money, they won't drop the deal if they were to publish their names. There is no shame in that rather publicity of their business.

    I have already submitted a tip to CBC the fifth estate, they do good investigation, perhaps they can clear this once and for all. And if this business is legitimate, perhaps they can learn how to do it properly so they don't provoke unnecessary suspensions. And if they're not, then they would be stopped.

    I encourage you to send a tip to the Fifth Estate, it would take few minutes to send and email. When they see many tips coming about this issue, they're more likely to look into it. Here is the email.

    All the best,


  133. This company is a scam, if they dont take a penny why was I happy they they called and as soon as they said I have to pay $589 cad to their organization I understood its a scam? They said its refundable when I get my grant and they will help me get it yeah ok. Then the guy on the phone asked me for my cc info to get it all set up faster for me lmao what kind of amateur scam agency is this Im 22 years old half asleep recieving this call and still after a long time of talking about legit grants understood this is bs and if youre an adult you should too . dont fall for this.

  134. This is a complete scam. Can't believe I wasted my time with thinking it was legitimate before doing my research. Now I'm worried that I gave them too much information about my business! What they do with that info I have no idea. But they are definitely scammers

  135. Yep total scam. We were fooled. Back in Dec 2016 my wife found this company. We applied asking for $20,000 to help start our business. Soon after we realized we needed a business plan. Since writing business plans isn't our strength we used the company recommended by Leadership Grants Canada. We paid $4000 for a business plan. Now here is where I see the scam happening. The guy writing the plan for us said we should ask for more between 25-50k. He said that they have a great success rate in getting approved as well. So we did. Now Leadership Grants Canada like to stress that priority is given to people with matching funds. We had roughly 25k but we spent 4k on the business plan and another 1k on a new computer for the business. So we sent proof of $20k matching funds which was the amount we were originally asking for. Of course we got rejected due to not having matching funds. This is the excuse they apparently give everyone. I doubt they give out grants and if they do its only a few. They are totally tied with the business plan writing place. Stay away from these guys. It's not worth your time and money.

  136. I have been told that the Business plan had to be "at least 30 pages", just to make you feel like you need help with it...
    Also been told "You have a lot of chances to win if you do use our services" ... Yeah right

    We won over 200K in grants in real entrepreneurship contests.
    No one ever asked for a business plan of over 15 pages. Also they all promote the winner everywhere - Only way to get more donation from rich people...

    Anyway, Real and total Scam

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