Social entrepreneurship is about using entrepreneurship (customers revenue!) to help solve community, social, or environmental challenges. Just because social entrepreneurs use customers to help fund their models doesn’t mean that grants shouldn’t also help fund solutions.
To help you with your search, here are a few funding options available for both for profit and non-profit social enterprises. These are small, but every $10K helps.
Credit Union Sponsorships Grants, Foundations (for-profit and non-profit)
Credit unions have been social enterprises before we even had a word for social entrepreneurship. They are important actors in the movement in every community across our country. Often credit unions support community activities and events through grants, sponsorships, as well as volunteer support.
Here are a few good examples:
- Valley First Charitable Foundation or Sponsorships & Donations
- Interior Savings Credit Union Community Foundation
- Prospera Credit Union Community Programs
- Coast Capital focuses their support on Youth
- Vancity has a suite of options to support community. Take a look at their Partnership Funding Programs which support various priorities like environment, social enterprise, and more.
Nearly every community in Canada has one or more credit unions. Take a look here if you don’t know yours.
National Research Council (for-profit social enterprises)
The NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program provides financial support to qualified small and medium-sized for profit enterprises in Canada to help them undertake technology innovation. This can be as small as $10,000 and up to several hundred thousand dollars for a multi-year project. You do not have to be a ‘technology company’ to take advantage of their programs. Through their Youth Employment Strategy, IRAP also provides small and medium-sized enterprises with financial assistance to hire young talent.
Canada Job Grant (for-profit and non-profit)
The Canada Job Grant offers funding toward the cost of training provided by third-party trainers. The Canada Job Grant could provide two-thirds of the cost of training, up to $10,000 with the employer required to cover the remaining third of the costs. Small businesses with less than 50 employees can benefit from flexible arrangements, such as the potential to count wages as part of their employer contribution.
Innoweave was created to provide free webinars, action-oriented workshops, tools, and funding for coaches to help implement Social Innovation approaches for community organizations. The funding from Innoweave can be used to help implement a new approach within your social enterprise with the help of a coach. Organizations have to attend one of their online Social Enterprise workshops that helps to explore and develop your social enterprise idea, and learn about how to achieve social, cultural, and/or environmental goals while generating revenue.
Provincial Trusts provide funding to support social, economic, and environmental development projects that will have long-term benefits to a specific region. They work to bring people together, provide resources, and lead initiatives that will strengthen the community in which they operate.
Here’s a small list of some of the Trusts available throughout British Columbia:
- Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust
- Columbia Basin Trust
- Northern Development Initiatives Trust
- Islands Trust
Community Foundations of Canada (registered charities)
Community Foundations have a deep knowledge of local needs and opportunities and act as champions for issues that matter. They are dedicated to improving communities by using investment income and donations to create grants available to registered charities.
Here are a few examples:
- The Central Okanagan Foundation Community Endowment Fund
- Community Foundation of the North Okanagan
- Community Foundation of the South Okanagan
- BC Interior Community Foundation
For a full list of all 191 Community Foundations in Canada, or for a list in your region, take a look here.