Helping Social Enterprise Thrive on Vancouver Island

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 will be hosting a funding call starting on January 8th to award $470,000 in non-repayable capital to successful applicants.  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 Project
    • 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.


  • 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 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