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!

Explore Foundational Course

Tuning into your purpose and strengths is the first step in creating the future you want for yourself and your community. This foundational 3-week personal leadership course will help you navigate transitions and put your values to work.

For more details on Explore, click here.

Build Incubator

You have what it takes. Design your social venture from the ground up, with hands-on learning, tools and mentorship every step of the way.

You will:

  • Work on your business hands on, in real time, within a robust structure of support.

  • Learn to use the lean startup canvas to minimize the risk of starting a business.

  • Validate your business idea and co-design your service or product with the people you will serve to build a viable business plan.

  • Build a financial model for your business.

  • Access legal advice to inform your business model.

  • 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.

  • Be part of a community 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.

  • Get access to startup capital that is exclusive to Groundswell alumni to give your venture a financial jump start.


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 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

  • Kick-off: Friday, October 4, 5:30pm - 8:30pm

  • Explore Sessions : October 5-23

    • Wednesdays, 5:30pm - 8:30pm

    • Saturdays, 10am - 6pm

  • Build Kick-off: Friday, November 1, 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 Support

If you’ve got big ideas and limited resources, the Vancity Microloan designed specially for Groundswell participants can help you pay tuition fees with a flexible, low-interest loan - and improve your credit rating too.

For each program intake, a limited number of bursaries are available to individuals from underrepresented groups or with intersectional identities, and to those facing systemic barriers to economic participation.




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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