Supporting Youth Social Entrepreneurship in Ontario

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Ontario Trillium Foundation Future Fund building infrastructures for young entrepreneurs


The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) announced initiatives today that will help the province’s young social entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground.

The Foundation is investing in seven community organizations and collaboratives through the Youth Social Entrepreneurship Future Fund program. The projects will build infrastructures that will help young social entrepreneurs by building networks, creating access to online resources and receiving stronger support from economic development officers. Projects include:

  • A social enterprise acceleration program in Waterloo Region that will be piloted in three Ontario locations
  • Developing curriculum to engage would-be entrepreneurs and train 45 economic development officers to support First Nations social entrepreneurs in Northern Ontario
  • A youth-driven online platform will be created to connect more than 400 young social entrepreneurs and link them to access to capital

OTF Future Fund is intentionally focused on building and strengthening the supports systems and infrastructures for social enterprises instead of funding the social enterprises directly. These supports will impact a large and diverse group of young social entrepreneurs across Ontario.


“Our government is proud to provide opportunities for Ontario’s youth to achieve their goals and succeed. Our support for the Future Fund will help aspiring entrepreneurs connect, learn and access resources that will take their ideas for social betterment and turn them into action. Supporting our youth is another way we can help boost economic growth for our province while preparing the next generation of social leaders who will shape Ontario’s future.”
— Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

"Ontario is a global leader in social enterprise and our youth are at the forefront of the movement. The Future Fund will link youth entrepreneurs with the skills and mentor support to turn their social enterprise ideas into viable businesses. These youth aren't satisfied with just making a profit -- they want to make an impact in their communities. When youth social entrepreneurs are equipped with the support needed to succeed, our economy prospers and we build a fairer society for all Ontarians." 
— Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment

"Social enterprises represent a big growth opportunity in the not-for-profit sector right now. Our research told us that where the Foundation‘s investments could be most useful was in helping to build the networks and supports that would make it easier for youth to get their business ideas for social change into play."  
— Dev Sainani, Chair, Ontario Trillium Foundation



  • Social entrepreneurs work in an entrepreneurial manner, but for public or social benefit. Social enterprises are revenue-generating businesses with two goals: to achieve social, cultural, community economic or environmental outcomes; and, to earn revenue.[1]
  • OTF will be working closely with the seven recipient teams over the next three years, using a ‘high engagement’ model.
  • All seven initiatives have individual or complementary components that contribute to strengthening the social enterprise infrastructure system as a whole.


OTF introduced the Future Fund program in 2007 as part of its commitment to invest in Ontario's future. The 2012-2013 Future Fund supports projects that create significant and sustainable change in a specific area, using distinct and innovative approaches. The Youth Social Entrepreneurship investments announced today build on 2011-2012 Future Fund grants, which focused on supporting youth economic opportunities.

A leading grant maker in Canada, the Ontario Trillium Foundation strengthens the capacity of the voluntary sector through investments in community-based initiatives. An agency of the Government of Ontario, OTF builds healthy and vibrant communities.


Read more about the grant recipients 
Follow CEO Andrea Cohen Barrack on Twitter


[1] is a social entrepreneur? ;

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