Summer Company program guidelines
Detailed guidelines on how to apply for money to start your own student business this summer.
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Summer Company is a program of the government of Ontario that helps young people between 15 and 29 years old start and run their own summer business by providing funding, advice and services. The province’s Small Business Enterprise Centres in your community deliver the program.
If you’re accepted into the program, you’ll receive:
- an award of up to $3,000
- a first payment of up to $1,500 for start-up costs
- a second payment of up to $1,500 once you’ve successfully completed the program
- hands-on coaching
- mentoring from business leaders in your community and from your program provider
You also get to keep any profits generated through the operation of your business.
Eligibility and participation requirements for candidates
You’re eligible to participate if you’re:
- a student between 15 and 29 years old as of April 30, 2023 (a parent or guardian must sign the application for applicants under 18)
- starting a new business (if you’re unsure, contact your program provider)
- attending school and returning to school in the fall (this includes full-time, part-time, homeschooling, e-learning, distance learning, apprenticeships, trade schools, etc.)
- a resident of Ontario
- a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident
- not working at another job or attending school for more than 12 hours per week during the duration of the program
- following the Canada Revenue Agency definition of being self-employed
- able to work over the summer program period:
- a minimum of 280 hours if you’re a high school student
- a minimum of 420 hours if you’re a post-secondary student
We may approve exceptions.
You must meet all of the above requirements.
You’re not eligible if you’ve received funding from Summer Company in the past.
Eligibility requirements for businesses
Almost any type of business is eligible, as long as it:
- is a sole proprietorship or a corporation where you (the applicant) will be the majority shareholder
- is an independent business venture
- is a new business, not previously registered or operated on an on-going basis
- operates at arm’s length from family business ventures
- operates in Ontario
- operates full-time as defined in the business plan
- follows government rules and regulations for operating a business
Businesses must meet all of the above requirements.
Check out the yearbook to see the types of businesses started by previous program participants.
Businesses not eligible for funding
These types of businesses are not eligible for funding:
- incorporated businesses that are controlled directly or indirectly by a person who would not be eligible for a Summer Company award
- business ventures that are subsidiaries or divisions of an existing business
- business ventures that are continuations of existing commercial endeavours
- commissioned sales
- multi-level marketing ventures
- single events such as a theatrical production, a DJ gig, a music concert, a dance/party event, a fundraiser, a sporting tournament, etc.
- businesses that are strictly pay per click
- 1-900 businesses
The program gives students the full experience of running their own business. Note that:
- the program provider may, at its discretion, determine that a particular business is ineligible for the Summer Company program
- online businesses are acceptable, but there must be face-to-face opportunities to market and sell your product
- app and tech businesses must be market ready and must generate sales by the end of the summer
- if you plan to run a business that requires certification, you’ll need to show proof to your program provider. If you’re unsure about certification obligations, ask your program provider. Certification examples include:
- Food handling certification for businesses that produce and/or sell food
- National Life Saving certification for businesses that offer swimming lessons
- Canada Professional Fitness Certification (CanFitPro) for businesses that offer personal fitness training
- Licences for businesses that specialize in drone photography
- check to see if you are eligible for the program
- you apply through a Small Business Enterprise Centre
Apply early - space is limited and the program reaches capacity quickly.
Once you’ve submitted your application inquiry:
- 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
- your program provider will review your application
- if your application meets the program’s requirements, your program provider will invite you for an interview
- after the interview, your program provider will tell you if you’ve been approved to participate in the program
- your program provider will provide payment of up to $1,500 for start-up costs
Requirements to participate
Once approved, you’ll be required to:
- sign a Letter of Agreement with the program provider describing each party’s rights and responsibilities (a parent or guardian must sign the agreement for applicants under 18)
- sign a Release and Consent form (a parent or guardian must sign the form for participants under 18)
- show your business name registration and any required licensing documents to your program provider for verification
- open and operate a bank account for the business
- spend your first payment within the first 30 days
- operate your business over the summer program period, according to your business plan and cash flow, for:
- a minimum of 280 hours if you are a high school student
- a minimum of 420 hours if you are a post-secondary student
- meet with your local program provider and mentors for a minimum of four meetings to review and track your progress
- agree to one site visit by the program provider
- maintain appropriate business records of income and expenditures including receipts
- participate in business training with your program provider
Requirements to complete the program
To receive the second payment (up to $1,500), you need to:
- meet your requirements to participate (listed above)
- participate in an exit interview at the end of the summer
- provide the following to your program provider for review, in a professional and business-like format:
- a cash flow record of your business operations
- copies of all your bank statements
- copies of all business receipts and invoices organized to show that you used the first payment for start-up costs
- submit a signed confirmation that you’re returning to school
- complete the anonymous online participant survey
If you don’t successfully complete the program, you will not receive the second payment and you may be asked to reimburse the first payment.
If you met all the requirements to complete the program, but did not spend the full first payment within 30 days, the difference will be deducted from your second payment.
Term of the program
You may decide to start and/or continue your business while you’re in school, but for the purpose of the program’s administration, business operations can start no earlier than April 1 and must end by Labour Day.
The award is taxable under the Canada and Ontario Income Tax Acts. A T4A slip will be issued to the recipient of the award.
Questions? Contact us
If you have any questions about your eligibility or program requirements, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact your program provider.