Kawartha Lakes - Economic Development
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Starter Company

Are you 18 to 29 years old and looking to start a business or grow an existing one? Starter Company might be for you.

The Starter Company program provides an opportunity for eligible young people to get training, advice and mentoring to help them build a business. The program also provides an opportunity to apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to start or grow a business.

About the program

What are the benefits?

Starter Company provides:

  • a grant of up to $5,000
  • one-on-one guidance from a Kawartha Lakes Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre (KLSBEC) advisor
  • mentoring with successful local entrepreneurs
  • a tailored training program to fit the needs of program participants

Who can participate?

You can apply if you're

  • 18 to 29 years old
  • a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in Ontario
  • not in a full-time education program
  • or returning to school
  • not employed full-time
  • not currently enrolled in an Ontario Self Employment Benefit (SEB) program.

 What's involved?

To successfully complete the program, applicants must:

  • attend an interview to discuss the business idea or expansion opportunity
  • agree to participate in training and mentoring modules over a 6-month period
  • create and follow a business plan
  • attend regular meetings with mentors and a KLSBEC advisor.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about your eligibility or would like more information about the program, call us at 705 324-9411 extension 1383 or email Brayden Siersma at bsiersma@city.kawarthalakes.on.ca

Ready to Apply

Download the  application form and then email bsiersma@city.kawarthalakes.on.ca with your completed form attached.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Can I start any kind of business, or are some types excluded?

In order to receive funding the business can be a new startup, an acquisition (i.e. the participant is purchasing a business from a retiring entrepreneur) or an existing business that is expanding to create new jobs.

As long as the applicant is fully responsible for the on-going operation of the business and/or is the majority shareholder in the case of a corporation, most types of businesses are allowed under the program.

To be eligible, a business or proposed business must:

  • be an independent business venture
  • be a legal business in Ontario
  • operate at arm's length from family business ventures
  • operate in Ontario
  • operate full-time as defined in the business plan
  • maintain its own books and records
  • maintain a separate business bank account
  • follow all government rules and regulations and applicable by-laws for the operation of the business.              

Non-eligible businesses are those that:

  • rely on commission sales
  • are part of an existing franchise operation
  • are based on a pyramid scheme.

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 Can my business be a partnership?

Yes. A business or proposed business may be a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation, but the grant can only be given to one person in the partnership and not to the actual company. For corporations, the recipient must own more than 50 per cent of the shares. The Starter Company recipient must be responsible for the ongoing management of the firm.

In addition, if there are two partners only one is eligible to receive the Starter Company grant of up to $5,000 for a specific business idea (grants will not be given to multiple individuals for the same business idea).

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Can I participate in Starter Company while collecting Employment Insurance or other income supports?

Yes. There is no restriction against participants receiving Employment Insurance (EI), Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support or other income support funding while they are in the Starter Company program.

However, young people participating in Starter Company may not be enrolled in another self-employment program that may permit EI funding to the participant, such as the Ontario Self-Employment Benefit (SEB) program. See related question below.

Note that if selected to participate in the program, funds received through Starter Company might affect other entitlements. Applicants should check to ensure that participation in Starter Company does not affect the supports received from other programs. 

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Can I participate in starter Company while I am enrolled in another self-employment program?

Young people participating in Starter Company may not be enrolled at the same time in the Ontario Self Employment Benefit (SEB) program, Ontario Works Self Employment Development program, Summer Company, or any other similar programs offered by government funded organizations.

However, it is possible to access these programs sequentially. For example someone who has started a business through Summer Company may later apply to participate in Starter Company in order to take their business to the next level. In this case they must have a concrete, tangible plan for the expansion of their business that would include job creation - for example, a program participant going from part-time to full-time work, or hiring additional employees.

Similarly, participants may apply to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) after receiving Starter Company funding and mentoring, provided that they apply in the first year of operation of their business.

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How much grant funding is available and do I need to invest my own funds?

 Participants may receive up to $5,000 in funding.

Participants are expected to contribute 25 per cent of the grant amount they are requesting. This may include asset-based in-kind contributions at fair market value, such as equipment or machinery required to run the business, e.g., ladders/scaffolding for a painting company, camera and lenses for a photographer.

The 25 per cent contribution may be waived in exceptional circumstances (including but not limited to individuals with special needs or those that have faced personal set-backs).

Participants will receive up to 75 per cent of the total eligible funding upon grant approval. The final amount of the grant will be paid out when the participant has reached the mutually agreed upon milestones and targets established in their business plan.

 In-kind contributions may not include "sweat equity" (a contribution in the form or effort as opposed to a financial contribution) or loans or other types of loaned support.

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Who decides if I get approved?

 A grant committee made up Small Business Centre staff and private sector stakeholders will review applications and determine which applicants are accepted and the amount of funding a proposal receives. Acceptance decisions are based on:

  • feasibility of the proposed business
  • proposed business's potential for job creation
  • start-up budget and financing needs of the proposed business
  • cash and in-kind contributions of the applicant
  • applicant's entrepreneurial aptitude (based on interview)

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What is the expected time commitment for Starter Company participation?

In addition to operating their business, participants are expected to attend formal mentoring meetings at least once a month for six months. Participants may also meet informally with their business mentors. During the six month period, participants must provide business reports to Kawartha Lakes Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre (KLSBEC). Reports should provide details on:

  • Revenues
  • Cash flow
  • Hiring
  • Other business details as requested

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Do I have to open a business or attend mentoring meetings to receive the grant?

Participants who receive a Starter Company grant must sign an agreement that outlines their responsibilities under the program. If they do not adhere to this agreement they will be considered in default of the program and there will be every effort to recover all grant monies disbursed.

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If my proposed business is not selected can I still get mentoring and training?

Yes. Even if a proposal is not selected to receive funding, a young person can still participate in the training and mentoring components of the program to help them open a business.

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For more information, please contact:

Diane Steven, Manager
Kawartha Lakes Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre
Telephone: 705-324-9411 extension 1283
Email: dsteven@city.kawarthalakes.on.ca




180 Kent St. W, Lindsay, OntarioK9V 2Y6
Phone 705-324-9411
Toll Free 1-866-397-6673

Link to City of Kawartha LakesLink to City of Kawartha Lakes Tourismlink to KLSBEC.ca