Start a summer company: students

How to get money and advice to run a summer business in Ontario.

How it works

Through a program called Summer Company, you can get two things:

  • start-up money to kick-off a new summer business
  • advice and mentorship from local business leaders to help get the business up and running

Learning how to run your own student business is one of the best summer jobs you can have. You get to be your own boss while learning what it takes to manage a business. Sales, marketing, invoicing, bookkeeping, customer relationship, management — these are just a few of the highly useful skills you will develop.

Who is eligible

You could be eligible, if you:

  • go to high school, college or university in Ontario
  • live in Ontario
  • are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • are between 15-29 years old (if under 18: a parent needs to sign the application)
  • are not already running a business
  • are not working at another job or going to school for more than 12 hours a week during the program
  • are returning to school after the program ends

You cannot apply again, if you have received a Summer Company grant in the past.

If you are on social assistance (Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program) you can still apply to Summer Company. Payments from the program may be exempt as income and assets under social assistance, so your monthly social assistance payment may not be affected.

Call your local Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program office for more information.

Grant amount

Maximum grant: $3,000
Successful Summer Company applicants get:

  • up to $1,500 up front to help with start-up costs
  • up to $1,500 when you successfully complete the program requirements

When money flows

It takes a minimum of 15 business days to process your first payment after we approve your application and you meet all the requirements.

Dates and hours

Start date: usually June or July.
End date: Labour Day (but you can choose to keep running your summer business while in school).

You must be prepared to commit:

  • an average of 35 hours per week
  • a minimum of 8 weeks in a row for high school students
  • a minimum of 12 weeks in a row for post-secondary students

What kind of business

You can choose to start almost any type of business, as long as it:

  • is a sole proprietorship or corporation (where you are the majority shareholder)
  • is an independent business venture (not a part of an existing or family business)
  • qualifies as “self-employed” for income tax purposes
  • operates in Ontario on a full-time basis
  • follows government rules for operating a business

More information on self-employed workers (Canada Revenue Agency)

How to apply

The program is now open. To prepare your application:

  1. Check to see if you are eligible for the program
  2. Contact a local program provider, a resource centre with a business consultant on hand to assist with business planning, support and guidance throughout the application process

The deadline to apply is May 8, 2015.

There may be an earlier deadline for:

  • Some local program providers. Students will be informed by their program provider when preparing their application.
  • Specialist High Skills Major co-op students, who must submit their full application by April 30, 2015.

Check eligibility

Log-in to continue with an existing application

Your local program provider will notify you of your application status over the next few weeks.

Selection process

  • Step 1: the program provider reviews the application, which includes your business plan and cash flow statement
  • Step 2: program provider interviews selected candidates and submits the application to the Ministry
  • Step 3: the program provider contacts successful applicants

Processing time

After receiving an application from the program provider:

  • Within 1 business day: we will confirm we have received the application
  • Within 5 business days: we will confirm the application is complete
  • Within 15 business days: we will make a decision on the application
  • After at least 30 business days:  we will allocate the first payment

After you’re accepted

You will need to:

  • sign an agreement with the government
  • agree to follow program guidelines
  • verify you’ve registered the business name
  • provide any other required licensing documents
  • open a separate bank account for the business
  • agree to at least one site visit from your business mentor
  • meet your local business mentor every two weeks, with at least 4 structured meetings, over an 8-week period

Guides and resources

Sample: business plan
Sample: cash flow statement
Full Guide: Summer Company program guidelines
Resource: 2014 Success Stories & Yearbook

Updated: January 27, 2015