How it works

Through a program called Summer Company, you can get:

  • 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, bookkeeping, customer relationship management and networking are just a few of the highly useful skills you’ll develop.

Who is eligible

You could be eligible, if you:

  • go to high school, college or university
  • live in Ontario
  • are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • are between 15-29 years old (if under 18: a parent or guardian must sign the agreement for the applicant)
  • 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.

Award amount

Maximum award: $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

Dates and hours

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

Over the summer program period, you must be prepared to commit:

  • a minimum of 280 hours for high school students
  • a minimum of 420 hours 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

Learn more about self-employed workers (Canada Revenue Agency).

How to apply

The program for 2024 is open through May 17. You apply through a Small Business Enterprise Centre.

How you’re approved

  1. Your selected program provider will contact you and will ask you to submit an application, which includes a business plan and cash flow. Your program provider will help you with your application, if required.
  2. Your program provider will review your application.
  3. If your application meets the program’s requirements, your program provider will invite you for an interview.
  4. After the interview, your program provider will let you know if you’ve been approved to participate in the program.


The general program deadline for applications is May 17, 2024.

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: May 17, 2024

Processing time

After your program provider has received your application:

  • within 1 business day: your program provider confirms they have received the application
  • within 15 business days: your program provider makes a decision on your application
  • within 30 business days:  the Program Provider will allocate the first payment

After you’re accepted

You’ll need to:

  • sign an agreement with the program provider
  • agree to follow program guidelines
  • verify you’ve registered the business name
  • provide any other required licensing documents
  • have a bank account for the business
  • agree to at least one site visit from your program provider
  • meet your program provider and business mentor for a minimum of four meetings, over the program period

Guides and resources

Sample: business plan
Full Guide: Summer Company program guidelines
Resource: Summer Company yearbook