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Start-Up Grants

TEF is not currently accepting applications to the Start Up Grant.


TEF offers Start-Up Grants to support social entrepreneurs who have a strong Feasibility Study and Business Plan to launch their employment social enterprise (ESE). ESEs are businesses that train and employ people facing barriers to the mainstream labour market

Start-Up Grants provide a maximum of $100,000 over a three-year period and are used to support the costs required to launch and establish a new ESE. Most applicants for Start-Up Grants will have completed their Feasibility Study and Business Plan with the support of TEF’s Catalyzing Grants, however this is not required. Learn about TEF's other Catalyzing supports (webinars, workshops, etc.) for people and organizations interested in starting an ESE here.

Purpose & ESE Targets

To start new ESEs that have strong potential to become viable, align with TEF’s Design Principles, and meet TEF ESE Targets:

a. Sales equal to business costs (i.e. 100% BCR1 or more) by the end of Year 3
b. Salaries-to-Wages ratio (i.e. Managers-to-Key Population Staff pay ratio) of 50:50 by the end of Year 3
c. Labour Market Attachment (LMA) of at least 70%; leading to jobs that align with Decent Work Principles
d. Increased wellbeing of key population participants as outlined in the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework six-asset model2
e. Progressive ESE sales, employment, and wages outcomes for Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3 as outlined below:

Category Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Sales $55,000 $150,000 $220,000
# of key population staff employed in the ESE 5 10 20
Average annual wages paid to key population staff $2,100 (1x3-hr shift/wk x $14/hr) to $32,760 (35 hrs/wk x $18/hr) with an expected average of $6,000 annual wages

Business Cost Recovery is TEF’s measure of sustainability. It is calculated as Sales Revenue divided by Business Costs. At 100% or more, the business is breaking even or making a business profit, and all funding is going to pay for social costs.

The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework six-asset model is the image below:

 Sustainable Livelihoods Framework

Key Populations

Key populations include people who have disabilities or a mental illness, youth who face multiple barriers, newcomers/refugees, or who are Indigenous, racialized, LGBTQ, experiencing or at risk of homelessness, in conflict with the law, and/or receiving Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). TEF is particularly interested in ESEs that will employ people who have disabilities and/or youth facing multiple barriers - key populations that experience the highest rates of unemployment. 


ESE should be in an industry that has the following:

a. Decent jobs
b. Anchor customers
c. Downstream employers
d. Match with the key population
e. Growth occurring in the industry

We accept all industries meeting the above criteria and anticipate the highest volume of successful applications in the following sectors: Construction, IT, Health & Social Services, Hospitality, Retail, and Professional Services.


Reporting is based on the agreed upon targets that are included in the funding contract and will relate to the criteria outlined in the Purpose & ESE Targets section above. At minimum, TEF requires: 

  • Narrative, statistical, and financial reports – every 6 months;
  • Check-in calls / video calls – every month in Year 1 and every other month in Years 2 and 3;
  • Site visits – every year (annual).

TEF intends to use an online reporting system for gathering evaluation data.


To be eligible for a Start-Up Grant you must be:

  • Planning to operate your ESE in Peel, Toronto or York Region.
  • Starting a new ESE.
  • A nonprofit or charity that has been established for at least 3 years and have audited financial statements.
    • If the organization has operated for less than 3 years or does not have audited financial statements, then a trustee is required. The trustee must be a charitable organization with a mission that is aligned with that of the ESE.

The following are also eligible:

  • Changing an established training program to be an ESE (i.e. starting to generate sales revenue).
  • Changing an established business to be an ESE (i.e. incorporating training/hiring and wraparound supports for key populations).

Funding Available

Up to $100,000 over a three-year period, based upon a budget using TEF’s template that will form part of the funding contract. Funds can be used for any costs required to launch and establish a new ESE. Applicants are expected to contribute time in kind and/or funds of their own. They are also encouraged to leverage other funding and apply for grants such as the Investment Readiness ProgramInnoweave Social Enterprise funding, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation Seed Grants. Applications are accepted at specific deadlines based on requests for proposals that are broadly published through this website, social media, and through the TEF mailing list.


The application requires the ESE’s Feasibility Study, Business Plan and Financial Plan using the TEF templates, as well as all other information and documents outlined in the Start-Up Grants Checklist below. Start-Up Grant applications are to be submitted through United Way Greater Toronto's Grants Online system. Please note that TEF is not currently accepting Start-Up Grant applications.

Start-Up Grant Application Checklist

  • Completed Feasibility Study and Business Plan with appendices (using TEF templates)
  • Business Model Canvas (using the TEF template)
  • Financial Plan (including sales forecast, cash flow forecast, and 3-year budget, in TEF format)
  • Work Plan (list of activities with time line and person responsible)
  • Summary of Performance Goals (using the TEF template)
  • Letters patent (including non-profit incorporation number)
  • Charitable number (if applicable)
  • Most recent annual report of the organization (if available)
  • Most recent audited financial statement of the organization
  • List of the current Board of Directors (names, short bios, and email addresses)
  • List of organization staff (names, positions, and email addresses)
  • Letter of support for launching the social enterprise from the Board of Directors
  • A letter of support from the proposed trustee (for organizations that have operated for less than 3 years or do not have audited financial statements)


To request the application link or if you have any questions about the Start-Up Grants, you can contact TEF at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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