Investment Readiness Program

Working in partnership with the Government of Canada, the Investment Readiness Program supports impact driven entrepreneurs who contribute to solving pressing social, cultural, and environmental challenges across Canada. At Startup Canada, we’re working to connect entrepreneurs with the tools and support they need to build socially impactful businesses.

About the Investment Readiness Program

Funded by the Government of Canada, the Investment Readiness Program (IRP) is a $50 million grants and contributions program running over two years (2021 to 2023). The IRP was designed to support social purpose organizations as they contribute to solving pressing social, cultural, and environmental challenges across Canada. The IRP helps impact driven entrepreneurs build their capacity to participate in Canada’s growing social finance market and prepare for the Government of Canada’s broader investment in social finance via the Social Finance Fund.

According to Startup Canada’s 2021 National Entrepreneurship Census, which surveyed approximately 122,000 entrepreneurs, more than 71% of entrepreneurs are interested in advancing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Startup Canada aims to connect impact driven entrepreneurs with the tools to grow their triple-bottom-line. In partnership with ESDC, Startup Canada's Social Impact Report includes data on the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities facing impact driven entrepreneurs across the country.

Startup Canada’s primary role in the IRP is to ensure Canada’s impact driven entrepreneurs understand the program, its various partners, and its value to their organizations.

Learn more about the IRP

Highlights from IRP 2019-2021

As a part of phase 1 of the IRP during 2019-2021, we highlighted twelve SDG Impact Icons who demonstrated excellence and outstanding achievement in advancing the UN’s SDGs.

As part of the program, Startup Canada also held two SDG Pitch Competitions with an aim to highlight and encourage Canadian entrepreneurs whose startups embrace sustainability and fulfill one of the following 4 SDGs:

SDG 1: Poverty Reduction

End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

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SDG 5: Gender Equality

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

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SDG 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

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SDG 13: Climate Action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

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Three webinars have been hosted through the IRP. The topics were geared towards supporting the unique challenges faced by impact driven entrepreneurs and equipping them with the tools and know-how to navigate their business journey to systemic change. The panels were a mix of subject matter experts from social purpose organizations, social finance intermediaries, researchers, and the government. Watch the recordings below.

Social Entrepreneurship 101 and Investment Readiness Program

Watch the recording

Building a Sustainable Business

Watch the recording

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Impact

Watch the recording


‘Spotlights’ is a blog series that champions and celebrates the diverse range of leading Canadian impact driven entrepreneurs driving systemic change. Throughout 2023, Startup Canada is celebrating 10 impact driven entrepreneurs who are demonstrating excellence and outstanding achievement in contributing to Canada’s advancement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Click below to read the profiles.

Spotlight on Lily Harper, Lily Lou's Aromas

Read about Lily Harper, Owner and Founder at Lily Lou's Aromas - she is nine years old and the maker behind Lily Lou’s Aromas. Lily is the sustainably minded entrepreneur we need, keeping the planet and its people at the heart of everything she makes! 

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Spotlight on Jean Erasmus, Dene Wellness Warriors

We are celebrating National Indigenous History Month with Jean Erasmus, Owner and Co-Founder at Dene Wellness Warriors. A professional counsellor, certified life coach, and facilitator, read how Jean draws from her skill set and life experiences to help Indigenous people with their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.

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Spotlight on Nadia Ladak, Marlow

Read about Nadia Ladak - founder of Marlow, a menstrual wellness startup that created the first-ever lubricated tampon. Marlow is a sustainably minded brand with its roots set in people and the planet.

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Spotlight on Sheena Russell, Made with Local

Using her Powers as a force for good: Meet Sheena Russell, Founder and CEO behind Made with Local.

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Spotlight on Dr. Golnaz Golnaraghi, Accelerate Her Future

The idea for Accelerate Her Future came from Dr. Golnaraghi’s lived experiences as a racialized woman, her research, and mentoring more than 200+ young women and youth.

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Spotlight on Kaapittiaq

An Inuit owned and operated social enterprise creating culture through coffee, Kaapittiaq actively experiments with Inuit governance and business models in an effort to redefine what business-as-usual can look like.

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Spotlight on Anastasia Kiku, Reusables

Creating positive environmental and social impact is what Anastasia Kiku set out to do when she pivoted from a career as a professional ski racer to an entrepreneur. 

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Spotlight on Katrina Ingram, Ethically Aligned AI

Read about Katrina Ingram, Founder and CEO, Ethically Aligned AI, a company focused on helping organizations drive better outcomes in the design, development, and deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems.

Read now

Spotlight on Zahra Qureshi, Social Venture Circuit

Check out the spotlight feature on Zahra Qureshi, an IRP funding recipient, and Founder of Social Venture Circuit.

Read now

Did You Know?

‘Did You Know’ is a social media campaign that showcases the various IRP partners and their unique offerings to impact driven entrepreneurs. These features will run across Startup Canada’s social media channels throughout the year.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Social innovation refers to a response to a social or environmental problem, which, once adopted, results in better solutions than existing approaches. Social innovations have a transformative impact and improve organizations, communities, regions, or systems.

Social finance is the practice of making investments intended to create social or environmental impact in addition to financial returns. It is a tool that seeks to mobilize private capital for the public good.

SPOs consist of various organizations with a mission to advance social or environmental objectives. Social purpose organizations include:

  1. the charitable and non-profit sector (registered charities, incorporated non-profit organizations, and non-profit co-operatives)
  2. the private sector (market sector co-operatives and private businesses advancing a social or environmental mission)
  3. hybrid entities such as Community Contribution Companies and Community Interest Companies, found in British Columbia and Nova Scotia respectively

The IRP is delivered by 26 organizations selected under two streams:

  1. Stream 1: Readiness support partners
    The readiness support partners will provide funding to social purpose organizations (SPOs) to build skills and capacity to access social finance investment. SPOs can use the funding to get help conducting market analysis, developing new products and services, building business plans, and acquiring technical expertise.
  2. Stream 2: Ecosystem builders
    The ecosystem builders will invest in projects that help grow and strengthen the social innovation/social finance ecosystem by being more inclusive and integrated. A strong ecosystem makes it easier for SPOs to be more socially innovative and to access social finance.
    Startup Canada is an ecosystem builder. 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

The 17 SDGs are integrated—they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability.


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