The Starter Company Retail Accelerator Program is aimed at helping main street retail businesses with training to assist them further with operations and marketing their business.  The program also provides an opportunity to apply for a grant of $5,000 towards growing small/medium retail businesses within the City of Toronto.

What Are the Benefits?

Starter Company Retail Accelerator Program provides:

  • Retail training focused on developing and managing their business.
  • Custom retail training provided by the Retail Council of Canada (RCC).
  • Further advisory services and mentoring.
  • A grant of $5,000 to assist them in growing their retail business.

Who Can Apply?

You can apply if you're:

  • 18 years of age or older at the time of application.
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • A Toronto resident or operating your retail business in Toronto.
  • Must be full-time self-employed and hold majority ownership in the business.
  • Must have a physical retail location and provide current lease/rental agreement at the time of application.
  • Must provide a valid commercial insurance certificate of your business
  • No on-line retail operation is allowed to apply
  • No franchise operation is allowed to apply.

How to Apply and What's Involved?

To successfully complete the program, applicants must:

  • Apply on-line.
  • Undergo an interview and selection process.
  • Agree to participate in a custom retail training modules over a two to three week period.
  • Create and submit a business plan/marketing plan after the training is complete.
  • Grant committee will review business/marketing plan.
  • Grant distribution of $5,000.

Interested in Becoming a Mentor?

We are currently recruiting experienced entrepreneurs to act as mentors to Starter Company Retail Accelerator Program participants. If you are interested in participating, please complete and submit the online application form.

Can I Start a Business of Any Kind, or Are Some Types Excluded?

In order to receive funding, the business must be a retail business located within the City of Toronto, it 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.

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
  • no on-line business operations
  • no mobile business operations.

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 company. For corporations and partnerships, the recipient must own more than 50 per cent of the shares. The Starter Company Retail Accelerator grant 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 Retail Accelerator grant of $5,000 for a specific business idea (grants will not be given to multiple individuals for the same business idea).

How Much Grant Funding is Available and Do I Need to Invest My Own Funds?

Participants will receive $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, inventory required to run the business and marketing expenses.

Are There Any Items Excluded from Consideration of “In-kind” Contributions?

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.

Do I Have to Open a Business or Attend Mentoring Meetings to Receive the Grant?

Participants who receive a Starter Company Retail Accelerator 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.

What Is the Expected Time Commitment for Starter Company Retail Accelerator grant 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 Enterprise Toronto. Reports should provide details on:

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

Who Decides if I Get Approved?

A grant committee made up of City of Toronto 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 or existing business
  • proposed business's potential for job creation
  • start-up budget and cash flow financing needs of the proposed business
  • cash and in-kind contributions of the applicant
  • applicant's entrepreneurial aptitude (based on interview)

If I Do the Training Am I Guaranteed to Get the Grant?

There are enough grants to give everyone who completes the training sessions a grant. However, completing the training program does not guarantee you a grant. Clients need to complete the training program, complete and submit the required business/marketing plan, the plan will be scored by the grant committee to be approved. The goal of the program is to provide everyone who does the training to receive funding – but clients must put in the effort and do the required work. If you do the work, you are likely to be approved.

I Am Working Full Time. Am I Eligible for Starter Company Retail Accelerator Program?

The intent of Starter Company Retail Accelerator Program is to help people grow their retail business.  Those working fulltime are not eligible.

If I Previously Received a Starter Company Grant from 2014-2018, May I Apply for a Starter Company Retail Accelerator Grant?

No. If you or your company have already received a grant under the Starter Company Plus program you may not apply to any of the other grant streams that are offered as part of Starter Company Plus.

I Don't Live in Toronto. Can I Still Apply?

Starter Company Plus is a provincial program, but you must apply in the municipality where you reside and where your business is located.

Find your local small business enterprise centre.

Starter Company Plus is a Government of Ontario program offered in Toronto by Enterprise Toronto.