The Starter Company Plus program provides an opportunity for eligible participants to get training, advice and mentoring to help them build a business. The program also provides an opportunity to apply for a grant of to help them start or grow a business.
Starter Company provides:
- a grant ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 depending on the stream
- one-on-one guidance from an Enterprise Toronto small business advisor
- mentoring with successful local entrepreneurs
- a tailored training program to fit the needs of program participants
You can apply if you're:
- a fit to the eligible sector or demographic stream
- a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in Ontario
- not in a full-time education program or returning to school
- not employed full-time
To successfully complete the program, applicants must:
- attend an interview to discuss the business idea or expansion opportunity
- agree to participate in training and mentoring modules over a six-month period
- create and follow a business plan
- attend regular meetings with mentors and an Enterprise Toronto small business advisor
In order to receive funding the business can be a new startup, an acquisition (i.e. the participant is purchasing a business from a retiring entrepreneur) or an existing business that is expanding to create new jobs.
As long as the applicant is fully responsible for the on-going operation of the business and/or is the majority shareholder in the case of a corporation, most types of businesses are allowed under the program.
To be eligible, a business or proposed business must:
- be an independent business venture
- be a legal business in Ontario
- operate at arm’s length from family business ventures
- operate in Ontario
- operate full-time as defined in the business plan
- maintain its own books and records
- maintain a separate business bank account
- follow all government rules and regulations and applicable by-laws for the operation of the business.
Non-eligible businesses are those that:
- rely on commission sales
- are part of an existing franchise operation
- are based on a pyramid scheme.
Yes. A business or proposed business may be a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation, but the grant can only be given to one person in the company. For corporations and partnerships, the recipient must own more than 50 per cent of the shares. The Starter Company Plus recipient must be responsible for the ongoing management of the firm.
Participants may receive up to $5,000 in funding.
Participants are expected to contribute 25 per cent of the grant amount they are requesting. This may include asset-based in-kind contributions at fair market value, such as equipment or machinery required to run the business, e.g., ladders/scaffolding for a painting company, camera and lenses for a photographer.
The 25 per cent contribution may be waived in exceptional circumstances (including but not limited to individuals with special needs or those that have faced personal set-backs).
Participants will receive up to 75 per cent of the total eligible funding upon grant approval. The final amount of the grant will be paid out when the participant has reached the mutually agreed upon milestones and targets established in their business plan.
In-kind contributions may not include “sweat equity” (a contribution in the form or effort as opposed to a financial contribution) or loans or other types of loaned support.
Participants who receive a Starter Company Plus grant must sign an agreement that outlines their responsibilities under the program. If they do not adhere to this agreement they will be considered in default of the program and there will be every effort to recover all grant monies disbursed.
In addition to operating their business, participants are expected to attend formal mentoring meetings at least once a month for six months. Participants may also meet informally with their business mentors. During the six month period, participants must provide business reports to Enterprise Toronto. Reports should provide details on:
- Cash flow
- Other business details as requested
A grant committee made up of City of Toronto staff and private sector stakeholders will review applications and determine which applicants are accepted and the amount of funding a proposal receives. Acceptance decisions are based on:
- feasibility of the proposed business
- proposed business's potential for job creation
- start-up budget and financing needs of the proposed business
- cash and in-kind contributions of the applicant
- applicant's entrepreneurial aptitude (based on interview)
Yes. Even if a proposal is not selected to receive funding, a young person can still participate in the training and mentoring components of the program to help them open a business.
Yes. There is no restriction against participants receiving Employment Insurance (EI), Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support or other income support funding while they are in the Starter Company Plus program.
However, young people participating in Starter Company Plus may not be enrolled in another self-employment program that may permit EI funding to the participant. See related question below.
Note that if selected to participate in the program, funds received through Starter Company Plus might affect other entitlements. Applicants should check to ensure that participation in Starter Company Plus does not affect the supports received from other programs.
Those participating in Starter Company Plus may not be enrolled at the same time in the Ontario Works Self Employment Development program, Summer Company, or any other similar programs offered by government funded organizations.
However, it is possible to access these programs sequentially. For example someone who has started a business through Summer Company may later apply to participate in Starter Company Plus in order to take their business to the next level. In this case they must have a concrete, tangible plan for the expansion of their business that would include job creation – for example, a program participant going from part-time to full-time work, or hiring additional employees.
Similarly, participants may apply to Futurpreneur (formerly the Canadian Youth Business Foundation) after receiving Starter Company Plus funding and mentoring, provided that they apply in the first year of operation of their business.
Yes, a potential applicant to the program who is enrolled in part-time schooling or training (part-time can include in-class, on-line or distance studies) is eligible for participation in the Starter Company Plus program. You must be prepared to satisfy program training and mentoring requirements and commit a minimum average of 35 hours per week to running your business.
The intent of Starter Company Plus is to help people launch a new business or expand an existing business where other forms of financing are unavailable. Those working fulltime are not eligible.
Starter Company Plus is a provincial program, but you must apply in the municipality where you reside and where your business is located.