We believe that social enterprises can be a powerful tool to meet community needs and address social and environmental challenges. From training and jobs for people with barriers to employment, providing innovative goods and services that address specific social or environmental issues, or generating sustainable sources of revenue that support the financial resilience and program delivery for non-profit organizations - social enterprises help build more inclusive, co-operative and sustainable local economies and communities.
Together with Vancity Credit Union we offer comprehensive suite of financial and technical support to help organizations explore and test their ideas, launch or scale-up or expand their social enterprise initiatives.
How we can help
We serve as trusted advisers for high potential enterprises and ideas, and will work with you to develop a tailored package of support. From seed stage to start-up and launch, right through to sustainability and expansion we’ll help you navigate a path to success by connecting you to funding, business expertise, partnerships, learning opportunities, financing and more.
Seed Stage | Idea development and validation
If you have a potentially viable idea for a social enterprise or mission-driven business, we can support you to develop, validate, test and refine your business idea and model. Depending on your needs, capacity and specific business idea we may provide:
- Financial support for your organization to participate in a business development incubator program
- Funding for you to secure the technical assistance or consulting services that will help you assess the viability of your business idea or ideas and to develop or refine your business or operating plans.
Connections to advisors who can help you to get ready to launch, review or provide feedback on your plans, and/or work with you to identify sources of capital.
Launch and Early Stage | Building viability
If your enterprise is ready to launch or already up and running, we can provide and/or help you access funding or financing to get to the next level. Supports may include:
- Grants, repayable grants, or access to creative financing for start-up capital and/or operating costs
- Access to advisory services, training, workshops and seminars to build capacity and develop your business acumen, clarify your market potential or refine your operating plans.
- Support in navigating financing and investment options to ready you for that next move.
Growth and Expansion | Growing sustainably & increasing impact
We support enterprises to reach their full potential - to maximize impact and financial sustainability. If your enterprise has been operating for a few years, and you have identified opportunities for growth or expansion we can help you get to the next level. We can help with…
- Support to assess your readiness and opportunities for growth, including evaluation of your strengths and weakness
- Access to funding and advisory services to develop and/or refine your growth or expansion plans
- Access to capital – grants, repayable grants, or financing - to implement your growth strategy
- Access to business tools, expertise and advice to help you maximize the success of your implementation strategy
What we are looking for
When assessing investment opportunities we look for the following:
- Alignment with Vancity's Vision. We look for projects in Vancity's priority sectors and areas of impact - including local food and agriculture, energy and environment; economic and social inclusion of vulnerable populations, indigenous communities and co-operative economy.
- Potential for impact. We look for enterprises that demonstrate the potential to contribute to meaningful positive environmental or social outcomes.
- Potential viability. We look for product or services that are compelling and marketable, and enterprises that demonstrate a viable business model.
- Organizational commitment and entrepreneurial spirit. We look for organizations that demonstrate entrepreneurial capacity and spirit, including a willingness to commit time and staff resources at all stages in the development process.
As a Charitable Foundation, our primary focus is working with non-profit and charitable organizations to help them develop and use social enterprise successfully. If your enterprise is structured as a for-profit business we can provide some supports and are happy to connect you to resources, experts and financing available through Vancity Credit Union.
Priority is given to initiatives that are member organizations and/or located in the Vancity service regions: Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay.
We are always looking for compelling and high impact enterprises to work with. We identify and review inquiries and request for support on an ongoing basis starting with a discovery process to identify needs and opportunities. We hope to develop long-term relationships providing incremental support as you move along the development path.
Start the Conversation
If you would like to discuss your project with us, get in touch using our online Discovery Form.
The discovery process provides us with basic information about your enterprise or enterprise idea, stage of development, and needs or opportunities. We use this information to help us assess whether there is a fit and the kind of support, resources and people that can best help you to move forward. If we think there is a potential fit, we will contact you to arrange a time to meet.