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Supporting Social Enterprise Development on Vancouver Island: Announcing the 2016 Social Enterprise Incubator Call for Applicants

The Social Enterprise Incubator is a new program designed to support the launch of new social enterprises on Vancouver Island. Through a series of workshops, the Incubator program will guide participants in developing and validating a business plan for their enterprise concept. 

  • Interactive peer learning environment
  • Business planning tools and resources
  • Workshops and subject matter experts
  • Support with launch planning
  • One-on-one coaching
  • Access to small development grants
  • Learning from experienced social entrepreneurs

The program is designed and delivered in partnership by the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria and Scale Collaborative. The program team combines years of experience in social enterprise development, launch, and operations.

The 2016 program consists of two components:

Part 1: Business Plan Development
(Sept-Nov 2016)

  • Workshop Series
  • One-on-one Coaching
  • Completed Business Plan
Part 2: Launch Supports
(Jan-Mar 2017)

  • Launch & Start Up Plan
  • One-on-one Coaching
  • Connecting to Mentors & Investors


Check back to see the detailed curriculum posted on our website in August 2016 or email to join our mailing list.

What is a Social Enterprise?

A social enterprise is an organization that uses business strategies to maximize social impact. The Social Enterprise Incubator uses the following definition from seCatalyst (

A social enterprise is distinguished from other types of businesses, non-profits and government agencies by the following criteria:

  • Addressing a cultural, social or environmental need is the principle goal of the organization, which serves the common good through its products and services or through offering employment to people who face barriers to mainstream employment;
  • Commercial activity is a strong revenue driver, whether a significant earned income stream within non-profit’s mixed revenue portfolio, or as a for-profit enterprise;
  • The common good is its primary purpose, literally ‘baked into’ the organizations DNA;
  • Surpluses and profits are principally reinvested into its social, cultural or environmental mandate.

What is a Social Enterprise Incubator?

A social enterprise incubator helps early stage social enterprises move ahead by providing training, tools, and support.  The immediate goal is to develop and launch successful social ventures while also building the long term capacity of social entrepreneurs and organizations. This program is for you if:

  • You’re at an early stage of social enterprise development
  • You’re launching a social enterprise on Vancouver Island
  • You’ve got a viable enterprise idea but need to flesh out your business and launch planning
  • You’re looking for support in getting your enterprise off the ground
  • You want to increase capacity for designing social enterprise approaches to achieve mission
  • You meet one or both of the 2016 program priorities (listed below) or have other impact driven goals

Vancity Development Grants

In support of the 2016 Social Enterprise Incubator, Vancity will provide a dedicated pool of funds eligible participants can apply for to assist with small short-term development costs.

2016 Program Priorities

The 2016 Social Enterprise Incubator program has been designed to address several regional gaps in social enterprise development. These gaps are reflected in the 2016 Incubator Program Priorities and also reflect the priorities of the funders and donors making the program possible. If your enterprise concept doesn’t reflect these priorities, you’re still encouraged to apply with the understanding that preference will be given to those that do. 

Priority: Enterprises Employing Youth

Youth not in employment, education or training, face specific challenges in connecting to the labour market. Social enterprise is recognized as a particularly effective strategy to help youth facing barriers to employment connect to long term jobs and career paths. (For more information see:

·       The 2016 Social Enterprise Incubator program will give preferences to enterprise concepts that have a primary purpose of employing youth between the ages of 16 to 30 facing barriers to employment.  Enterprises concepts that include but are not exclusively youth focused will also be given preference.

Priority: Employment Social Enterprise

Social enterprises may have many types of goals and impact. Achieving the intended social purpose may have a strong influence on business model. Social enterprises that provide employment to people from marginalized backgrounds can be highly impactful but require specific considerations to be successful in balancing social and financial goals. Employment social enterprises are an underutilized approach on Vancouver Island despite high potential need.

·       The 2016 Social Enterprise Incubator program will give preferences to enterprise concepts that have a primary purpose of employing people from marginalized backgrounds or people who face barriers to mainstream employment.


The program is best suited to organizations that have identified a feasible business concept for their social enterprise and will benefit from a guided process of business planning.

Mission: can include enterprises with social, cultural or environmental goals, though priority will be given to enterprises employing youth or others facing barriers to employment.

Corporate or Ownership Structure: The program has primarily been designed for the needs of nonprofit and charitable organizations; however non-profits, for-profits, co-operatives, and community contribution companies are all eligible.

Development Stage: The program is geared towards those at an early stage of development, who have an idea they are willing to invest in. Ideally applicants have completed some measure of feasibility assessment and can see themselves moving to launch within 6 to 12 months. Those who have already launched but need support to refine their business plan and scale up operations are also encouraged to apply.

Geographic Location: 2016 workshops will be held in the Capital Region of Victoria, however applicants from outside the region, particularly those who meet the 2016 priorities are also encouraged to apply.

Participation in the program is a significant investment of time so applications will be assessed based on fit with the program including:

·       Stage of development

·       Potential impact of enterprise

·       Strength and viability of enterprise concept

·       Need for support and capacity building

·       Level of investment in enterprise concept

·       Ability to participate in and benefit from the program

·       Alignment with 2016 priorities


This is a pilot program and participants will be asked to contribute $250 towards program expenses including venue, coaching and materials.

To Apply:

The 2016 program can accommodate up to 6 participants. Those wishing to apply should complete and submit an application by or before the Application Deadline of August 19, 2016.


To download an application form click here: (MS Word) (Adobe PDF)


Completed applications and supporting documents can be submitted by email to: by or before August 19, 2016.


Please include your most recent financial statements and any related materials that describe your social enterprise concept, planning or research completed. All applicants will be notified by August 26, 2016.


If you have any questions about the 2016 Social Enterprise Incubator program or application form, please contact:

Andrew Holeton, Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria, 250-383-6166, Ext. 109,



This program is made possible through financial and in-kind support from:

Program Delivered in Partnership with