Toronto And The Programs To Help Entrepreneurs

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Resources For Toronto Entrepreneur

First Published: Nov 14, 2010

Toronto is the largest city in Canada, the cultural centre of the nation and the place where many businesses get their start. With 2.6 million people in the city, it is the economic engine of the country and the place where many businesses, the largest in the country, operate out of. While Canada has many programs in place to help entrepreneurs, there are also specific programs and services in place to help entrepreneurs in Toronto get their start. Here are a few to help you know what you have available to you.

Youth MicroLoan Pilot

This program was put in place by the city council of Toronto as a way of giving young entrepreneurs from west end neighborhoods the ability to start their own business. Currently, this is just a pilot program that is going to run for a year to assess how well it works. This means that if you are a young entrepreneur from the west end, then you will want to take advantage of this immediately.

The program is funded by the City of Toronto and is in partnership with the Toronto Community Foundation, Toronto Community Housing and Alterna Savings. It provides young entrepreneurs with skills they can use in life, business development training, mentoring in business and access to loans of up to $5,000. In addition, as part of the program, those who apply will get post-loan support, access to resources, networking opportunities and much more.

The concept of the program was actually planned back in 2007 and 2008 when Enterprise Toronto created a series of workshops in 13 neighborhoods called Youth Biz, as a way of urging younger individuals to start their own business and develop their own self-employment opportunities.

So, what do you need if you want to take part in this program? To participate in the program, the youth must have an idea and no access to any other sort of business or enterprise funding. The youth must be between the age of 18 and 24, no longer be in school and in a high priority neighborhood. These neighborhoods are:

  • Jane and Finch
  • Weston-Mt. Dennis
  • Jamestown-Rexdale
  • Lawrence Heights
  • Westminster Branson

In addition, the youth must be unemployed and not receiving any sort of employment insurance. To apply, contact the UrbanArts Community Arts Council at 416.241.5124 or e-mail

Enterprise Toronto

A one-stop source of services and programs for Toronto entrepreneurs, Enterprise Toronto helps to meet the needs of those who want to start a business within the Toronto area. Enterprise Toronto assists in training and helping new entrepreneurs make good decisions to ensure that their business keeps growing. The organization has the goal to help entrepreneurs who are at the initial growth stage of their business by giving them training on business decision making, management, finding information for marketing, leadership solutions and securing sources of financing. The organization wants to help entrepreneurs in Toronto reach their full potential and have their business succeed.

Enterprise Toronto is offered and managed by the City of Toronto Economic Development and Culture Office, which provides services and programs in area of small business.

Youth Entrepreneurship Program

The YMCA Business Centre offers a program that is designed for those between the age of 15 and 30, who are not in school, are living in the York region and are not collecting employment insurance, but who want to start their own business. Offered and funded by the Government of Ontario, this is a very important program that can help a lot of people make the important decisions when they are beginning their business venture.

Some of the programs that the Youth Entrepreneurship Program offers including:

  • Leaning how to start a business.
  • Gaining access to financial help.
  • Developing a business plan.
  • Attending workshops.
  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Business planning
  • Internet marketing
  • Financial forecasting
  • Networking with business owners
  • Using the business resource library.

If you are interested in this program, you can contact them at or by calling 905.948.9622

Step Ahead

As a woman, sometimes it can be hard to find the help you may want to run a business. Thankfully, there are organizations in place to give you a hand. Step Ahead is a not-for-profit volunteer business mentoring organization that matches women entrepreneurs who want to build their business with experienced mentors. They have the motto of “Women business owners mentoring for growth”

The program involves a 12-month Step Ahead Mentoring Program that can begin at any time during the year, and it includes 10 educational workshops and one-on-one mentoring relationship that runs for a year.

Begun in 1992 by a group of women entrepreneurs, they wanted to address the problem they saw of female entrepreneurs finding the process of growing a business difficult while juggling other duties.

Toronto Business Development Centre

Established in 1990 as an initiative of the Toronto Economic Development Corporation and the Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Trade, this organization has helped over 4,000 businesses in the Toronto area since it opened its doors. The organization is committed to helping entrepreneurs make their business successful by offering several resources. These services include:

  • Business incubation
  • Planning a business
  • Seminars
  • Business mail services
  • Entrepreneur forums

As well, the Toronto Business Development Centre also offers programs including:

  • Ontario Self-Employment Benefit
  • Ontario Works Self-Employment Development
  • BIZ Futures
  • Summer Company
  • Canadian Youth Business Foundation
  • Community Outreach

Toronto is a huge city with much to offer, but with so much there it can seem overwhelming to start a business there. You may feel like there is no way to compete but you won’t know that unless you start your own business. The programs and groups mentioned here will help you get your business off the ground and, most importantly, give you the training you need to make your business successful. There is nothing saying you have to go it alone in business.