Apply now for Fall 2019

Financial support applications can be found here.

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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.

We believe everyone has something unique and valuable to contribute to the world. This is your opportunity to take your skills and your values and build something valuable from them. You’ll join an ecosystem of social entrepreneurs, small business owners and self-employed people who have found their way to make a positive impact.

Program Content

Business Validation Workshops

Validation is the process of testing a hypothesis (your business idea) by speaking to the ideal advisory board - your potential customers! You don’t have to be a startup tech company to take advantage of this technique. Groundswell alumni have launched non-profit organizations, design firms, catering companies, textile recycling initiatives, coffee import businesses and more, all using this simple but deep methodology.

Special Bonus Offer : As soon as you’re enrolled in Build we will work with you every month, providing you with the tools and exercises to validate your business ideas, giving you a head start in the program. Apply now - Validation Workshops are in session!


During the Explore sessions, you’ll uncover your confidence and kick start the momentum you need to take a serious step towards the future you want for yourself. We meet you where you're at, and we'll treat you like you're already that best version of yourself, so that you can realize your dreams. Two workshops streams, Discovery and Habits, run parallel with guest speakers adding extra special expertise to the program.

For more details on Explore, click here.


You will:

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

  • Hone your mission and purpose to set a solid direction for your business idea.

  • 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.

  • 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 user 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.


Guest instructors with specific expertise will amplify each week’s theme with additional professional and entrepreneurial experience from the real world. You’ll get connected to experts in startup validation, law, finance, pricing, design, marketing, and more, as well as other social entrepreneurs who love to share their stories and learnings to help early-stage entrepreneurs like you.

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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


The heartbeat of the Build program is the weekly mentorship you will receive with our diverse team of deeply experienced entrepreneurs, executives, and professionals. In addition to one-on-one mentorship with senior mentors, a weekly peer mentorship group will enrich your business building journey with the skills, peer accountability, networks, and creative minds of your fellow cohort members.

Meet the mentors here.

2019/2020 Dates

October 4, 2019 - March 7, 2020

NEW evening and weekend schedule!

  • April 1: Applications Open

  • June 19: Business Validation Sessions Start (Non-refundable deposit must be paid)

  • September 23: Application Deadline

  • October 4: Kick-off Weekend

    • Friday, Oct 4, 5:30pm - 8:30pm

    • Saturday, Oct 5, 10am - 4pm

  • Explore Sessions : October 9-19

    • Wednesdays, 5:30pm - 8:30pm

    • Saturdays, 10am - 6pm

  • October 23: Validation Workshop, 6pm - 8pm

  • November 1: Build Kick-off Potluck, 5:30pm - 8:30pm

  • Build Sessions: November 2 - March 7:

    • Mondays, 6pm - 8pm

    • Wednesdays, 6pm - 8pm

    • Saturday workshops, 10am - 4pm; Nov 2, Dec 7, Jan 11, Feb 1, Mar 7


Financial Aid

Bursaries are available for BIPOC, trans people, people with disabilities, and low-income inner city residents for all three of our social entrepreneurship programs: Explore, Build, and Test Market . Any remaining tuition that is not covered by a bursary is eligible for microfinancing through our partnership with Vancity.

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 more about financial aid here.




The real delivery cost of the Groundswell Build program is $8000, but as a non-profit organization, our funding partners (Thank You!) allow us to make our programs more accessible to more people. 

Not sure if you’re ready to Build?

Explore sessions are a prerequisite for the Build sessions. You can register for just Explore on it’s own and decide if Build is the next step for you.

Read more about the Explore program here.

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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