Ontario: Social Entrepreneur Fellowship

Applications are closed. 





Pretty much everyone sees the world's problems and wishes things were different. And a whole lot of us have creative ideas for solutions. Sadly, most of us never bring our ideas to life, believing that “fixing the world is a job for someone better than me.”

But what if there were a place that could bring community dreamers together—and with just a little nudging and support—help them discover their talents and skills to make their breakthrough ideas a reality?


What is it?

SEF Class of 2014The Social Entrepreneur Fellowship (SEF) is a program like no other in Canada.

SEF is designed for people from all walks of life who want to improve their community through a new social purpose business, non-profit, or cooperative, and who want help to become a more effective and capable leader.

Robert Labossiere '14 testimonialThrough SEF's 6-month intensive course, you will develop new behaviours that boost your effectiveness and confidence as the founder of your venture. Beyond bolstering your capacity to be an effective agent of social change, the program provides you an opportunity to achieve deeper impact and to undertake significant personal growth.

The technical business skills you acquire depend largely on the effort you put into the program. We describe SEF as a "buffet of learning opportunities." SEF fellows enjoy access to a wide array of trainings, and it will be up to you to fill your plate with the skills development you need. These trainings include business planning, fundraising/venture pitching, financial and legal management, marketing, and other topics that improve your working methods. 

SEF provides a unique and holistic learning approach that offers access to industry experts and business leaders. Our program includes:

  • A student-led, action-based learning environment;
  • Practical sessions with experienced social entrepreneurs and subject matter experts who will help you learn about topics like social impact measurement, human-centred design, systems thinking, venture pitching, business planning, legal obligations, communications, and more;
  • A dynamic network of fellow social entrepreneurs in Canada and around the globe to provide inspiration, encouragement, and connection through the Fellowship and beyond.


Who is SEF for? 

SEF '13 students in classSEF is for anyone currently developing or piloting an idea and who is looking to take it to the next level. Not only is your idea exciting, with lots of potential, but you as a social entrepreneur have the drive, enthusiasm, and curiosity to make this and future ventures as high-impact as possible.

SSE Ontario is a not a conventional school and its competitive admissions process is not traditional either. We seek students with the grit and determination to succeed, the empathy to serve, and the integrity and vision to inspire. 

If you have won a lot of academic prizes or achieved great grades, that's wonderful. But if you haven't, we'll have no concern.

Many of the world's greatest social entrepreneurs never completed or enjoyed formal schooling. The best prerequisite is personal experience with the issues you’re trying to address.

In short, SEF is best suited to people who:

  • Do not want a theoretical understanding of social enterprise, but rather a first-hand learning program.
  • Are willing to jump in and take considered risk to drive their social enterprise forward.
  • Have strong financial and personal support networks, noting that during the six months, you'll need to put in hard yards for the success of your new venture.
  • Have capacity to attend every session and can work two days each week outside of the dedicated Program times. 


What is expected of me?

SEF 2015 begins on June 9, 2015 and runs through December, every second Tuesday, all day. The program involves a mix of group and individual sessions.

SEF sessions are held primarily in the Regent Park neighbourhood of Toronto, though we occasionally hold sessions in other parts of the city to take advantage of all that Toronto has to offer.

Although the program is flexible enough to accommodate employment, we require students to dedicate at least the equivalent of two to three days per week (outside of class sessions) to their social venture. It is essential that you dedicate ample time to work on your venture to put your learning into action, out of fairness to other students and to your venture.

You will need a good level of personal resilience. Our students tend to have deep personal connections to their work, and they need to manage the normal emotions that emerge throughout the learning process. You will also need to give and receive feedback from your peers.

You will need to take an active role in your learning, and to a large extent, the effort you make determines what you achieve over the program. At SSE, students “learn by doing”, immediately applying what they learn in the classroom to their venture or project. A description of our learning approach can be found here.

How does SEF set me up for success?

The program is inspiring and we know it works. An independent study by York University conducted in 2013 cited the program's numerous strengths, and many students report the fellowship as a transformational experience. Click here and here for more information on the impact of the program on students.

What if I'm unsure I can really succeed in my venture?

Many prospective students worry about trying to launch a social venture, because they're unsure they'll succeed. Conventional wisdom has it that first-time entrepreneurs have a low chance of success. The same can be said for social entrepreneurs as well.

SSE recognizes that “failure” is a healthy part of the learning journey, and focuses on building students’ long-term potential for leadership in any social venture they found or job they take.

The attention we pay to students’ mindsets and maturity means they will contribute to society no matter what path they choose.

SSE Ontario post-graduation paths


How much does the program cost?

SSE is accessible to all social entrepreneurs, regardless of their ability to contribute financially to SSE's program costs of $11,500 per SEF fellow.

For students who can afford it, we typically expect a contribution between $2,000 and $5,000 toward program costs. We will work with accepted students to determine a contribution level that reflects their circumstances.  SSE also has a number of sponsorships and flexible payment plans available for those who need them. 

Please get in touch at info@sseontario.org if you want to know more.

How do I get more information?

We will be hosting an information sessions at our offices (585 Dundas Street East, Regent Park) on:

  • Wednesday, April 1 at 11 am 

  • Wednesday, April 8 at 5:30 pm 

You may RSVP for these sessions by writing to info@sseontario.org.

If you cannot make either info session, you may also join us during an open house at our office where you'll get a chance to meet staff and ask questions about the program. Open houses will be held on:

  • Wednesday April 1st (12-3pm)

  • Thursday April 2nd (1-4pm) 

  • Tuesday April 7th (1-4pm)  

Please RSVP at info@sseontario.org to set up an appointment during the open house hours.

How do I apply?

Applications for the 2015 session are now closed. 

Can I nominate a student?

If you know anyone who is a promising social entrepreneur, nominate this future leader as a SEF candidate by completing our nomination form and we'll take it from there. 


What if SEF isn't a fit for me right now?

Feel free to sign up for alerts on all our learning programs here.


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