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Retail Incubator Program

Are you an immigrant entrepreneur in Ottawa with a promising idea or an early-stage venture? We're here to provide you with the tools, training, and hands-on support you need to get your business off the ground. This program is not only theory - this is a fully immersive, intensely practical and let's-get-you-up-and-running training where you will get to do business.

Our innovative program will offer a unique opportunity to grow your business in the heart of Ottawa's vibrant ByWard Market.

presented by RBC and supported by Meridian

Applications are currently closed . Click the link below to get added to the waitlist for 2025!

Breaking barriers, helping you grow

We understand the challenges facing underrepresented entrepreneurs, particularly immigrant entrepreneurs. High commercial rents and daunting long-term contracts often stand in the way of realizing your dreams or scaling your existing businesses. That's why we're here to change the game.

Imagine your business in a prime shipping container retail location, right in the bustling heart of ByWard Market. That's where we'll be, and that's where you can be too.

From pre-residency preparation to ongoing post-residency support, our dedicated team will be by your side, ensuring you have the guidance and resources you need to flourish.

But it doesn't stop there. By joining our program, you'll not only gain access to this vibrant marketplace but also break down barriers that hinder immigrant entrepreneurs from thriving in our business ecosystem. We're committed to your success every step of the way.

This rolling, eight-week immersive program offers a supportive setting for participants to shape their business concepts, refine their skills, and put them into action during a week-long stay at our Shipping Container Storefront in the ByWard Market.

Our one-week residency program, running from May 1 to October 31, 2024, offers hands-on, public-facing business experience like no other. You'll engage directly with customers, refine your products or services, and gain invaluable insights into running a successful venture.

The Details

The beauty of our residency program lies in its novelty. Operating on a rotating basis, it brings fresh energy and excitement to the ByWard Market, captivating residents and visitors alike. The ByWard Market isn't just any location—it's Ottawa's premier tourist destination, attracting an average of 50,000 visitors per weekend during the summer months.  And for you, our participants, it means unparalleled business exposure and growth opportunities.

Location

We welcome applications from immigrant entrepreneurs with a strong idea or early-stage business in the following areas:

  • Unique product-based business (think about filling up a shop and selling your products there)

  • Some services

  • Experiential activities

  • Some food-based businesses (please note there is no on-site food preparation allowed)

  • Artisanal products

Types of Businesses

  • Canadian Citizens born outside of Canada

  • Permanent Residents

  • Open work permit holders applying to Express Entry (application submitted)

  • Convention Refugee

  • Ukrainian Emergency Visa holders

  • Have a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5+ in English

All candidates must either have or be prepared to register their business, open a business bank account, apply for a business CRA number and ensure timely manufacturing and readiness of products for the residence. We are here to assist you with this process!

Who is Eligible?

There is a nominal fee of $150 + hst for the program. This fee includes:

Eight weeks of in-person/virtual workshops (May & June)

One-on-one mentorship and accountability

One-week residency in our 8'x10' shipping container storefront at the ByWard Market 

Support during the residency

One-week support after the residency to help with business sustainability

Cost and what's included

Interested in the next cohort?

Join the waitlist

Thank you for your interest in the Immigrant Entrepreneur Canada Retail Incubator program! Applications for the 2024 cohort are currently closed. If you are interested in being notified for when our next cohort begins, please fill out the form below to be added to our waitlist.

Thank you to our partners & collaborators

Presented by:

Supported by:

In collaboration with:

FAQ

1. I already have a registered, business bank account, CRA business number and I am selling. Can I apply? There are some spots for those immigrant entrepreneurs who already have a business. Please note the residencies for these participants will happen in the months of May and June only.

2. I have a food-based business/idea. Can I apply? There are certain restrictions on what can be sold at the ByWard shipping container storefronts. Food preparation is not permitted on the premises. Only ready-to-eat products will be accepted. It's important to adhere to all health and safety regulations in this program. Participants must independently acquire a Food Handlers certification and prepare any high-risk food items in a commercial kitchen at their own cost. We can help facilitate this process!

3. I only have a business idea. Can I still apply? Absolutely! This is the primary goal of the program. Ensure that your idea is something you are truly passionate about and can feasibly launch within a few months. While we will offer guidance, support, and assistance, you must be prepared to put in the work!

4. What is the time commitment for this program? The educational segment spans 8 weeks with workshops held bi-weekly in May and June. This program is extremely interactive, requiring participants' dedication to attending workshops and fulfilling the required tasks. Plan to allocate approximately 5 hours per week for training, along with finalizing all business registrations and basics before the week-long residency at the ByWard Market. The majority of the training sessions and workshops will be conducted in the evening to accommodate work schedules.

5. I want to start my business but I don't have the funds. Do you offer grants? We acknowledge that certain businesses may need a greater amount of capital than others. Immigrant Entrepreneur Canada is a recently established non-profit organization with limited financial resources. Currently, we are unable to provide funding. This program targets participants who are able to invest some of their own funds to kickstart their ideas. If you have additional inquiries regarding this matter, please don't hesitate to contact us.

6. Why is this program $150+hst?  The program provides valuable workshops, practical assistance, and a prominent retail space for participants to launch their businesses. The nominal fee will help offset a small amount of the costs incurred. Please connect with us if you have further questions about this.

7. I'm an international student on a student visa. Can I apply? Unfortunately international students on a student visa are not eligible to apply.

8. I am on an open/closed work permit. Can I apply? Unfortunately open/closed work permit visa holders who have not processed a permanent residency application, are not eligible to apply.

9. I am on a visitor/tourist visa, can I apply? Unfortunately people on a tourist/visitor visa are not eligible to apply.

10. I have a question that is not covered here. Please feel free to send us an e-mail!

FAQ

1. I already have a registered, business bank account, CRA business number and I am selling. Can I apply? There are some spots for those immigrant entrepreneurs who already have a business. Please note the residencies for these participants will happen in the months of May and June only.

2. I have a food-based business/idea. Can I apply? There are certain restrictions on what can be sold at the ByWard shipping container storefronts. Food preparation is not permitted on the premises. Only ready-to-eat products will be accepted. It's important to adhere to all health and safety regulations in this program. Participants must independently acquire a Food Handlers certification and prepare any high-risk food items in a commercial kitchen at their own cost. We can help facilitate this process!

3. I only have a business idea. Can I still apply? Absolutely! This is the primary goal of the program. Ensure that your idea is something you are truly passionate about and can feasibly launch within a few months. While we will offer guidance, support, and assistance, you must be prepared to put in the work!

4. What is the time commitment for this program? The educational segment spans 8 weeks with workshops held bi-weekly in May and June. This program is extremely interactive, requiring participants' dedication to attending workshops and fulfilling the required tasks. Plan to allocate approximately 5 hours per week for training, along with finalizing all business registrations and basics before the week-long residency at the ByWard Market. The majority of the training sessions and workshops will be conducted in the evening to accommodate work schedules.

5. I want to start my business but I don't have the funds. Do you offer grants? We acknowledge that certain businesses may need a greater amount of capital than others. Immigrant Entrepreneur Canada is a recently established non-profit organization with limited financial resources. Currently, we are unable to provide funding. This program targets participants who are able to invest some of their own funds to kickstart their ideas. If you have additional inquiries regarding this matter, please don't hesitate to contact us.

6. Why is this program $150+hst?  The program provides valuable workshops, practical assistance, and a prominent retail space for participants to launch their businesses. The nominal fee will help offset a small amount of the costs incurred. Please connect with us if you have further questions about this.

7. I'm an international student on a student visa. Can I apply? Unfortunately international students on a student visa are not eligible to apply.

8. I am on an open/closed work permit. Can I apply? Unfortunately open/closed work permit visa holders who have not processed a permanent residency application, are not eligible to apply.

9. I am on a visitor/tourist visa, can I apply? Unfortunately people on a tourist/visitor visa are not eligible to apply.

10. I have a question that is not covered here. Please feel free to send us an e-mail!

The national center of excellence dedicated to empower and accelerate the impact and success of Canadian immigrant entrepreneurs.

Immigrant Entrepreneur Canada

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