Helping Social Enterprise Thrive on Vancouver Island

Applications for the Jan 8 – Feb 10 funding call have now closed.

Victoria Foundation will be hosting a second (and final) round of application intake for the Investment Readiness Program in September 2020. Program eligibility guidelines and evaluation criteria will be available in summer 2020.

In June 2019, the Government of Canada launched the Investment Readiness Program (IRP), a new $50M fund aimed at helping social purpose organizations build their capacity to participate in Canada’s growing social finance market.

The IRP is designed to help social purpose organizations prepare for the Government of Canada’s broader investment in social finance via the Social Finance Fund, an historic new $755M commitment which was announced in November 2018 and is expected to roll out over ten years. The eventual goal is for these organizations to be able to participate in the social finance market and generate a return for investors while having a positive impact on their communities.

On Vancouver Island, the Victoria Foundation is hosting a funding call starting on January 8 to February 10, 2020.  Social purpose organizations can apply for funding between $10,000 – $100,000. Applications for amounts over $30,000 require a much more rigorous application process. Charities, non-profits, co-ops and for-profit social enterprises, may all apply if they have an existing business or a business idea that fits the definition of a social enterprise.

  • What is a social enterprise?

    A social enterprise is defined as a business that has specific social objectives that serve its primary purpose.

    Social enterprises seek to maximize profits while providing a positive social, cultural or environmental outcome to society.

    Social enterprises can include charities and non-profits, as well as co-operatives and for-profits with a social purpose.

    More information.

  • What are some examples of social enterprises?
    • A non-profit that employs people facing barriers to employment to perform eco-friendly home retrofits
    • A charity that runs a catering service and provides culinary training for at-risk youth
    • A co-op that offers affordable laundry and delivery service while giving work experience to people living in poverty
    • A business that helps local farmers sell their crops and products to consumers at a fair price
    • A store that offers local artisans credit to purchase food in exchange for their crafts

    More information.

  • Where are the program FAQs and Guidelines?

    The program FAQs and Guidelines can be found here.

  • Who is partnering with the Victoria Foundation to promote this program on Vancouver Island?

    The Victoria Foundation is collaborating with 22 partners from across Vancouver Island, including other community foundations, credit unions, educational institutions, economic development groups and other social enterprise specialists and networks. These include:

    • Campbell River Community Foundation
    • Clayoquot Biosphere Trust
    • Metchosin Foundation
    • Nanaimo Foundation
    • Parksville-Qualicum Community Foundation
    • Saanich Peninsula Community Foundation
    • Salt Spring Island Foundation
    • Saturnina Foundation
    • Vancity
    • Island Savings
    • Coast Capital Savings
    • Coastal Community Credit Union
    • North Island College
    • Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria
    • South Island Prosperity Partnership
    • VIATEC
    • Community Futures Central Island
    • Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation
    • Island Coastal Economic Trust
    • Scale Collaborative
    • Community Micro Lending
    • Coastal Communities Social Procurement Initiative
  • Why is the Victoria Foundation partnering on this program?

    The Victoria Foundation is committed to investing in people, ideas and activities that strengthen our communities. The IRP will strengthen the social enterprise eco-system and the Victoria Foundation is proud to be Vancouver Island’s regional lead of this program.


  • I thought the Victoria Foundation only funded charities. Why does this program support for-profit businesses?

    The Investment Readiness Program is a unique, national funding opportunity for social purpose organizations, including charities, non-profits, co-ops and for-profit social enterprises. The Victoria Foundation is partnering with the Government of Canada to help allocate the funding that they have provided, specifically for social purpose organizations located on Vancouver Island.

  • How do I apply for funding?

    Interested applicants can submit via the IRP application portal. The portal will be open to accept applications starting January 8, 2020 at 10 a.m. EST.

  • How will by application be evaluated?

    In addition to general eligibility criteria, applications will be evaluated for their fit with the IRP. Addressing these core themes within your application is advised.

    • How does your organization or social enterprise measure and report on impact? What do your plans look like to do so?
    • To what extent does, or will, your organization’s activities in and of themselves create social value? Does, or will, the social enterprise activity create significant impact in the community it serves?
    • Relative to the stage of development of the enterprise, what is the demonstrated evidence of trajectory towards growth? How significant is the financial situation/opportunity of the social enterprise in relation to projections?
    • To what extent will the funding requested support your organization to become more investment ready?
    • What is your organization contributing, including, but not limited to, finances, time and other resources?
    • What effect will  the enterprise have on a priority group (such as rural and remote regions of Canada, Indigenous people, official language minorities, newcomers…etc.)
  • How can I get more information?

    For more information about the IRP, view the FAQs and Guidelines, or contact the Victoria Foundation and Jessica Bell at 250.381.5532.

Learn more