Home/ Starting Start and grow a social enterprise
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.
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 frameworkThis 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 enterprisesLearn the key development stages for a social enterprise, including assessing your readiness and developing a business plan. B Corp certificationYour for-profit business could receive this certification if you meet higher standards of social and environmental performance. 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.
Find resources that can help you start your non-profit business.
Choosing and setting up a locationTrying to decide where to locate your business and how to arrange it once you get there? Consider your options. Naming your businessChoose 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 businessFind 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 skillsLearn to strengthen the skills you need to use every day in managing your social enterprise. EmployeesDiscover how to recruit, hire and effectively manage your employees. Day-to-day operationsSuccessfully managing the ups and downs of daily operations is the backbone of your business. Marketing and salesHow well you market your business and interact with your customers can vastly influence your success. GrowingDiscover ways to expand your business, from innovation to entering international markets. Work-SharingIf business is slow, you can offer at least 2 of your core workers a temporarily-reduced work week instead of laying them off. Marketing and promotion
Find resources that can help you promote your social enterprise.
Regulations and taxation
Learn about taxation and other federal and provincial/territorial regulations that can apply to social enterprises.
Registered charity or non-profit organization?Understand the differences between charitable and non-profit organizations as per Canada's Income Tax Act. Goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax Learn how to register for your GST/ HST GST/ HST business account, and how to charge, calculate, report and pay the taxes. Register for a Get all the information you need to understand how to charge, collect and submit GST/HST account GST/HST. Provincial and territorial tax informationGet information on provincial and territorial taxes and find out how to collect sales tax from your local and out-of-province customers. Regulated business activitiesLearn about regulations that apply to key business activities such as exporting, importing, marketing, and managing employees. Create and maintain a federal not-for-profit corporationDiscover how to incorporate and run your not-for-profit organization at the federal level. Registered charityFind out whether your organization meets the criteria needed for you to register it as a charity. Community Contribution Company
Only Applies to : Find out how this business structure allows you to pursue social goals while making a profit and providing opportunities to like-minded investors.
British Columbia Business incorporation and registration
Only Applies to : Incorporate your business provincially through the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies.
Nova Scotia Corporate Registry
Only Applies to : To conduct business in Alberta, register your cooperative, corporation, extra-provincial company, non-profit company, society, trade name and/or partnership.
Alberta Becoming a registered charity for community economic developmentYour social enterprise may be eligible for charitable status, making your earned income tax exempt. See how your social enterprise may qualify. Corporate Registries — Societies
Only Applies to : Are you interested in starting a society or non-profit organization? Learn the benefits and requirements of incorporation.
Northwest Territories Business registration in the Yukon
Only Applies to : In order to register your business in the Yukon, you will need to contact Corporate Affairs.
Yukon Forming a non-profit corporation in Saskatchewan
Only Applies to : Find out how to register your non-profit corporation in Saskatchewan, including the fees, the forms required and the turn-around time.
Saskatchewan Incorporation of non-profit companies (New Brunswick)
Only Applies to : Find out about the rules, procedures and fees for incorporating a not-for-profit company in New Brunswick.
New Brunswick Registry of Companies (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Only Applies to : In Newfoundland and Labrador, you must register with the Registry of Companies if you decide to incorporate provincially.
Newfoundland and Labrador Co-operativesStarting a co-operative? Learn about the incorporation process, your obligations and the programs available for your business. 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.
Apprenticeship START Program
Only Applies to : Financial incentives are available for you to hire a new apprentice in Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia Business growth and competitiveness — Youth internships
Only Applies to : 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.
Ontario Canada Summer JobsIf you hire students for the summer, this subsidy could help you cover 50% of their wages. Coast Opportunity Funds — Economic Development Fund
Only Applies to : Obtain funding for your sustainable business or economic development activities if you are a Participating First Nation (or individual member of one) on the
British Columbia BC coast. Community Business Development Corporations — Social Enterprise Loan
Only Applies to : You could get a loan of up to $150,000 to start-up, renovate or grow your social enterprise in rural Atlantic Canada.
Newfoundland and Labrador Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia New Brunswick Employment integration — Wage subsidies
Only Applies to : Do you need financial support to hire employees? If so, this measure could help you.
Québec Enterprise Trade Fund (Small Business)
Only Applies to : You could be eligible for funding to open, develop or expand markets or to stimulate Yukon business activities.
Yukon Entrepreneurship and Business Development Fund
Only Applies to : If you are Aboriginal and live in the territories, you could get financing to start or grow a business.
Yukon Northwest Territories Nunavut FedNor Innovation Fund
Only Applies to : If your business is based in Northern Ontario, you could receive funding towards the adoption and commercialization of new technologies.
Ontario Financing for collective entrepreneurship
Only Applies to : Your cooperative or non-profit organization could receive a loan for your acquisition, growth, reorganization, or consolidation projects.
Québec Fonds d'investissement en agroalimentaire Nicolet-Yamaska
Only Applies to : You could receive financial assistance of up to $10,000 to start or expand your non-conventional-sized agri-food business.
Québec Programme d'immobilisation en entrepreneuriat collectif
Only Applies to : Your social enterprise may be eligible for a grant to help you renovate, build or acquire a building.
Québec Futurpreneur Canada Newcomer ProgramIf 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 ProgramAre 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. Jubilee Fund: Ethical investing in Manitoba
Only Applies to : Does your business project help improve the quality of life of disadvantaged individuals? These loan guarantees may help you access financing.
Manitoba Local Poverty Reduction Fund
Only Applies to : Your registered charity, not-for-profit or Indigenous-led organization may be eligible for a grant for sustainable projects that aim to reduce poverty.
Ontario Ontario Catapult Microloan Fund for Social Enterprises
Only Applies to : You may be eligible for a loan of $5,000 to $25,000 for your innovative Ontario-based social enterprise.
Ontario Ontario Job Creation Partnerships
Only Applies to : If you are planning a new business project that benefits the community, you could be eligible to hire a subsidized job seeker.
Ontario Ontario Social Impact Voucher Program
Only Applies to : As a social entrepreneur you may be eligible for a $3,000 voucher redeemable for personalized business training.
Ontario Opportunities Fund for Persons with DisabilitiesIf 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
Only Applies to : You could get funding of up to $250,000 if your non-profit organization develops innovative projects for developing East-end Montreal.
Québec Passeport innovation
Only Applies to : Your eligible SME, cooperative or non-profit organization could receive funding to support technological, organizational and social innovation projects.
Québec Regional Development Fund
Only Applies to : 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.
Newfoundland and Labrador SEED Winnipeg Inc.
Only Applies to : Low income individuals and groups can get access to business management training, individual consultations, access to small business loans, and more.
Manitoba START Program
Only Applies to : Financial incentives are available for you to hire ready-to-work Nova Scotians.
Nova Scotia Skills LinkNeed 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
Only Applies to : 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.
Alberta Social Enterprise Ontario
Only Applies to : 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.
Ontario Social Venture Exchange
Only Applies to : Make your connection to social and environmental impact ventures, funds, and investors in Ontario.
Ontario Support for Translation and Interpretation Program
Only Applies to : You could obtain up to $5,000 to help your social organization offer services in both official languages.
New Brunswick Toronto Enterprise Fund
Only Applies to : You could receive funding to start or manage a social enterprise that provides employment or training for socially marginalized people.
Ontario Western Diversification Program
Only Applies to : If your not-for-profit organization is looking to strengthen the economy of Western Canada, you can apply for funding for various initiatives.
Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia CrowdfundingCould 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.