It’s no surprise Canada is an attractive place to call home with its naturally endowed beauty, resources and friendly attitude towards immigrants. But, did you know that Canada has also been gaining popularity as a place for businesses to call home—or rather, HQ?
The Canada Start-up Visa Program has increased in popularity with the total number of approved permanent residency admissions doubling in 2019.
Many business owners outside North America find that the ‘Great White North’ offers an ideal work-life balance, such as a safe and stable standard of living, while having the benefit of being close to the US and Latin American markets.
And, for entrepreneurs who are socially and environmentally motivated, Canada is a place with ample opportunity to connect and thrive with like-minded changemakers.
What is the Canadian Start-up Visa Program
The Canadian Government launched the Start-up Visa (SUV) Program in 2013 to attract international entrepreneurs and business owners with the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that are innovative, can create jobs, and compete on a global scale.
Under the SUV Program, up to five founders of one company and their immediate families are allowed to immigrate to Canada while applying for a work visa and Permanent Residency (PR) status. Typically, the work permit will be granted first for applicants to be able to move their business to Canada while waiting for their PR application to process.
The current (2021) PR application processing period is one of the quickest paths to gaining PR status. To be eligible for the Canada SUV Program, you must first:
- Have a qualifying business
- Receive a letter of support from ONE or more designated organizations (venture capital funds, angel investors, or business incubation & accelerator programs)
- Meet the language requirements (English, French, or both)
- Have enough money to settle and live in Canada before making money from your business
Making the decision to uproot your business and family and move to a completely new country is not easy. It’s a huge transition! But, it can also be extremely rewarding.
The Value of Canada for Impact Businesses
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a heightened sense of awareness around the urgent need to disrupt and reshape systems to be more equitable and responsible. We’re now witnessing the number of impact-based initiatives increase, reflecting a collective shift in priorities and a will to make the for-profit world service social and environmental communities more directly.
In 2019, the Thomson Reuters Foundation named Canada the best country to support social entrepreneurship among the world’s 45 largest economies. The survey ranks countries in six areas:
- Government support
- Talent pool
- Public understanding
- Making a living
- Gaining momentum
- Access to investments
With the pre-requisite infrastructure to help support impact businesses, Canada has seen an uptick in successful deals for entrepreneurs focusing on meeting national social and environmental mandates. Many of these entrepreneurs are newcomers to Canada with diverse backgrounds and include strong involvement from young people and women, all of which are important for business success.
There is also strong governmental support for impact innovators through incentives and policies, alleviating the costs of running a business.
Pro Tip: Use the Business Benefits Finder tool to discover programs and services to help your business, regardless of whether you’re in ideation, getting ready to launch or scale.
Affordable Access to a World-Class Education
Both primary and secondary education in Canada are publicly funded for Canadian citizens and permanent residents until the 11th or 12th grade, depending on the province or territory they reside in. Additionally, universities and colleges, including University of Toronto; McGill University; and University of British Columbia, are greatly subsidized to allow students of all backgrounds an equal opportunity at higher education.
One of the Best Publicly Funded Healthcare Systems
Canadian citizens and permanent residents qualify for public health insurance, meaning most public-health services are free. Canada’s universal healthcare system is paid through taxes. Even so, about two thirds of Canadians have private health insurance covered through their employers, which includes extra services such as eye and dental care, prescription drugs, and private hospital rooms.
Canada is generally a very inclusive and progressive country that celebrates its diversity and multiculturalism. Approximately one third (20%) of Canadian citizens were born outside Canada, the majority of which tend to live in big cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. As part of it’s COVID-19 economic recovery plans, Canada aims to welcome 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022, and 421,000 in 2023.
Blessed With Natural Beauty
Canada is home to various natural elements, such as mountains, rivers, lakes, volcanoes, prairies, rain forests, vineyards, islands and both the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It also hosts 20% of the Earth’s freshwater and consistently reports clean air quality. The land is very fertile allowing for a healthy variety of fruits and vegetables to grow. Residents look to make the most out of seasonal ingredients throughout the year. There are infinite ways for individuals and families to spend time outside connecting with nature and feel an improved sense of health and wellbeing.
The IMPACT Startup Visa Accelerator Program
Spring Activator’s IMPACT Startup Visa Accelerator is a comprehensive 4-month program combining a business acceleration education with processes, support, and connections to help socially and environmentally motivated (immigrant) entrepreneurs make Canada the home base for their business. Spring is a designated organization authorized by the Canadian Government to provide a Letter of Support for those seeking Permanent Residency through the Startup Visa.