Start and grow a social enterprise 

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As a person in charge of a non-profit organization, are you thinking about starting or operating a business with the aim of furthering your mission or generating income to support your sustainability?

This page will help direct you to information that could help you manage and grow. There are links to general business information that applies to any entrepreneur, small or medium business, or social enterprise. Within these lists you’ll also find programs and services that are specific to organizations like yours.

On this page:

Assessment

Learn about key concepts related to earned income and social enterprise to determine if these forms of revenue generation are a good fit for your organization.

  • Earned income framework

    This is a useful starting place if your charity or non-profit is considering engaging in earned income for the first time or more extensively.

  • Planning toolkit for social enterprises

    Learn the key development stages for a social enterprise, including assessing your readiness and developing a business plan.

Business planning

A business plan for your social enterprise will contain many of the same elements as those developed for for-profit businesses. It should also include components focused on your social objectives. 

Starting

Find resources that can help you start your non-profit business.

  • Choosing and setting up a location

    Trying to decide where to locate your business and how to arrange it once you get there? Consider your options.

  • Naming your business

    Choose the right name for your business. Your business name should be unique and easy to remember, and should describe the products and services you provide.

  • Registering your business

    Find out about the requirements to register your business with different levels of government.

Managing

Managing the daily operations of your social enterprise can include a wide range of activities, such as managing employees, marketing, and protecting your business.

  • Strengthen your social enterprise management skills

    Learn to strengthen the skills you need to use every day in managing your social enterprise.

  • Employees

    Discover how to recruit, hire and effectively manage your employees.

  • Day-to-day operations

    Successfully managing the ups and downs of daily operations is the backbone of your business.

  • Marketing and sales

    How well you market your business and interact with your customers can vastly influence your success.

  • Growing

    Discover ways to expand your business, from innovation to entering international markets.

  • Work-Sharing

    If business is slow, you can offer at least 2 of your core workers a temporarily-reduced work week instead of laying them off.

Regulations and taxation

Learn about taxation and other federal and provincial/territorial regulations that can apply to social enterprises.

Financing

Did you know that you could qualify for a number of government financing programs? Learn about the different programs available to your social enterprise.

  • SEED Winnipeg Inc.
    Applies only to: Manitoba

    Low income individuals and groups can get access to business management training, individual consultations, access to small business loans, and more.

  • Apprenticeship START Program
    Applies only to: Nova Scotia

    Financial incentives are available for you to hire a new apprentice in Nova Scotia.

  • Business growth and competitiveness — Youth internships
    Applies only to: Ontario

    If your business is in Northern Ontario, you could get help to hire a recent graduate to work on your information and communications technology project.

  • Canada Summer Jobs

    If you hire students for the summer, this subsidy could help you cover 50% of their wages.

  • Co-op Education and Apprenticeship Tax Credits
    Applies only to: Manitoba

    Are you ready to grow your workforce? Get help to recruit and retain qualified young workers.

  • Coast Opportunity Funds — Economic Development Fund
    Applies only to: British Columbia

    Obtain funding for your sustainable business or economic development activities if you are a Participating First Nation (or individual member of one) on the BC coast.

  • Community Business Development Corporations — Social Enterprise Loan
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador Nova Scotia New Brunswick Prince Edward Island

    You could get a loan of up to $150,000 to start-up, renovate or grow your social enterprise in rural Atlantic Canada.

  • Employment integration — Wage subsidies
    Applies only to: Québec

    Do you need financial support to hire employees? If so, this measure could help you.

  • Enterprise Trade Fund (Small Business)
    Applies only to: Yukon

    You could be eligible for funding to open, develop or expand markets or to stimulate Yukon business activities.

  • Entrepreneurship and Business Development Fund
    Applies only to: Northwest Territories Nunavut Yukon

    If you are Aboriginal and live in the territories, you could get financing to start or grow a business.

  • FedNor Innovation Fund
    Applies only to: Ontario

    If your business is based in Northern Ontario, you could receive funding towards the adoption and commercialization of new technologies.

  • Financing for collective entrepreneurship
    Applies only to: Québec

    Your cooperative or non-profit organization could receive a loan for your acquisition, growth, reorganization, or consolidation projects.

  • Fonds d'investissement en agroalimentaire Nicolet-Yamaska
    Applies only to: Québec

    You could receive financial assistance of up to $10,000 to start or expand your non-conventional-sized agri-food business.

  • Fuel Injection Program
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Your advanced manufacturing or social innovation business could access up to $30,000 in seed funding for growth projects in Southern Ontario.

  • Futurpreneur Canada Newcomer Program

    If you are between the ages of 18 and 39 and have lived in Canada for less than 60 months you can apply for financing to start a business.

  • Futurpreneur Canada Start-Up Program

    Are you between the ages of 18 and 39? If you are a Canadian resident with a good business idea, you could get $15,000 or more to start or run a business full-time.

  • IMPLIQ Financing
    Applies only to: Québec

    This financing could help you start or expand your co-operative or non-profit organization.

  • Jubilee Fund: Ethical investing in Manitoba
    Applies only to: Manitoba

    Does your business project help improve the quality of life of disadvantaged individuals? These loan guarantees may help you access financing.

  • Local Poverty Reduction Fund
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Your registered charity, not-for-profit or Aboriginal organization may be eligible for a grant for sustainable projects that aim to reduce poverty.

  • Ontario Catapult Microloan Fund for Social Enterprises
    Applies only to: Ontario

    You may be eligible for a loan of $5,000 to $25,000 for your innovative Ontario-based social enterprise.

  • Ontario Job Creation Partnerships
    Applies only to: Ontario

    If you are planning a new business project that benefits the community, you could be eligible to hire a subsidized job seeker.

  • Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities

    If you are a person with disabilities who wants to start a business or if would like to hire someone with a disability, you could qualify for funds.

  • PRAM-Est
    Applies only to: Québec

    You could get funding of up to $250,000 if your non-profit organization develops innovative projects for developing East-end Montreal.

  • Passeport innovation
    Applies only to: Québec

    Your eligible SME, cooperative or non-profit organization could receive funding to support technological, organizational and social innovation projects.

  • Regional Development Fund
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Need to enhance skills essential for regional economic development? If you run a non-profit organization in Newfoundland and Labrador, you could be eligible for funding.

  • START Program
    Applies only to: Nova Scotia

    Financial incentives are available for you to hire ready-to-work Nova Scotians.

  • Skills Link

    Need employees? You could receive money to hire and train youth between the ages of 15 and 30 to work on your projects.

  • Social Enterprise Fund
    Applies only to: Alberta

    If you are a social entrepreneur, this loan fund could provide you with the financing and support you need to begin your own socially minded business.

  • Social Enterprise Ontario
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Your social enterprise with an environmental or social goal for Francophones may be eligible for grants of up to $16,000 or loans of up to $40,000.

  • Social Venture Exchange
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Make your connection to social and environmental impact ventures, funds, and investors in Ontario.

  • Support for Translation and Interpretation Program
    Applies only to: New Brunswick

    You could obtain up to $5,000 to help your social organization offer services in both official languages.

  • Toronto Enterprise Fund
    Applies only to: Ontario

    You could receive funding to start or manage a social enterprise that provides employment or training for socially marginalized people.

  • Western Diversification Program
    Applies only to: Manitoba Saskatchewan British Columbia Alberta

    If your not-for-profit organization is looking to strengthen the economy of Western Canada, you can apply for funding for various initiatives.

  • Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund

    As a young entrepreneur with a social or environmental goal, you may be eligible for loans of up to $25,000 to start or grow a business.

  • Crowdfunding

    Could crowdfunding help you raise funds for your business?

Support organizations for social enterprise

Seeking the advice of peers, professional business counsellors and coaches can help you transition from new business owner to experienced entrepreneur.

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