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Weave your ideas and skills with the change you want to make in the world and build a socially and environmentally conscious small business.

At Groundswell, we take work personally. That is, we believe everyone has something unique and valuable to contribute to the world, and it's our mandate to help you build your contribution into self-employment, or a sustainable business, non-profit, cooperative, or community project.


Program Content

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Before Groundswell I had a lot of ideas, but never really succeeded in starting something. Groundswell provided me with the necessary structure to get started and more importantly a supportive community of peers and mentors when things got tough.

Chris Schuchmann, 2016 Groundswell alumnus

Structure, accountability, and all the resources you need to build a social business, non-profit, self-employment, or social enterprise, are incorporated into the 5 month BUILD program. 

You'll start each week with a pitch presentation where you update the mentors and your peers on your progress, and get feedback on the spot.  Then you will learn a practical business building block or skill and put it into practice, transforming your idea into a ready to launch venture in real time during the program.  In the afternoons, group and one-on-one mentoring gives you even more personalized support and the collective experience of our diverse team of mentors.  Finally, a guest speaker will present to the week's topic, giving you professional and entrepreneurial experience to learn from and a new contact to add to your network.


Kick Off Weekend

You'll begin with an intensive weekend connecting with local social enterprises and community based entrepreneurs, bonding with your cohort of peers, learning about social innovation and alternative, values based economies, and meet various Groundswell alumni who have gone through the journey you are about to embark on.

  • Get personalized 1-on-1 mentorship with every aspect of your business planning.

  • Get access to coworking and event space.

  • Showcase your new social business at a celebratory launch event and expand your network and fan base.

  • Make a positive social and environmental impact within a strong ecosystem of values-based entrepreneurs who are committed to helping each other.

  • Get preferential access to the Groundswell Test Market and stay connected with our community and resources through Groundswell Membership after the program ends.

You will:

  • Learn within progressive and flexible modules with peer-to-peer accountability.

  • Test and validate your idea, product, or service by connecting with the people you want to serve.

  • Determine the viability of your idea and access professional legal, financial, and communications services to help you launch.

  • Explore financing opportunities to find investment and manage your budget.

  • Create a communications and marketing plan, as well as your own promotional materials.

2018-19 Schedule

20 weeks, October 19, 2018 - March 13, 2018

Kick Off Weekend: October 19th - 20th

Mondays: 9:00 - 12:00; mentoring 1:00 - 4:00
Wednesdays: mentoring 3:00 - 5:00; guest speaker 5:30 - 7:00 

Two Saturday workshops, dates TBA

The 2019 Build Program starts February 2019 - choose this start date on the application form for your chance to join Groundswell’s 9th cohort.



We've created a microfinancing program with Vancity so that Groundswell program participants and alumni can access up to $50,000 to cover their tuition and start-up costs. 

Read the financing FAQ here.


The Explore and Build programs flow together and we encourage people to take them both to make sure you're doing the right thing and to deepen your confidence around your idea and your connection to your peers. 

Explore participants:

Credit the full amount of your Explore tuition towards Build, making Build tuition only $2550 (or $2650 for early bird Explore registrants).

Read more about the Explore program here.

If you take Build on it's own:

Early Bird Discount if you apply by July 10th: $3150 

Regular: $3500

The real delivery cost of the Groundswell Build program is $8000.  A big thank you to all our funding partners for subsidizing Groundswell program fess with their generous contributions and keeping Groundswell accessible! 

Get in Touch

If you have any questions about the program, please use this form to get in touch with us and we'll get right back to you. 

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