We are Employ to Empower

Non-Traditional Entrepreneurship

Using Entrepreneurship to Foster Confidence and a Circular Economy.

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We Focus On Long-Term Support In the DTES.

Employ to Empower (ETE) is a local, grassroots charity that empowers people with work and social barriers through entrepreneurial resources. We offer business skills training, personalized mentorship, micro-loans and self-advocacy opportunities. Truly, almost a quarter of Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents are striving to become entrepreneurs as an avenue for earning an income, developing confidence and contributing to their community.

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I want to spend a meaningful portion of my time on non-profit activities that have the possibility to benefit our community in a positive way, even if only in a small way. I really believe in the “ripple effect”. Individual stones we throw into the water may be small, but the ripples they produce travel great distances. It’s the possibility for social change by the cumulative effect of many small, positive and individual actions that I find most exciting. And I look forward to tossing a lot more stones into the water through my involvement with Employ to Empower!

Scott ShawDonor & Co-Founder of Sutton Realty

Something that I leave every ETE event with is a sense of genuine connectedness to the individuals that I had met, and to those ETE has supported. From the attendees, to the volunteers, to the organizers, there is no doubt in your mind that ETE cares - whole-heartedly, passionately, and limitlessly.

Charissa LandichoETE Attendee

Being a part of Employ to Empower has opened up a lot of doors for me and I'm really grateful for that. Employ to Empower supports me and since joining, new aspects of my art are being shown in a variety of different ways. People want—and are taking the time—to hear my story.

Deirdre PinnockPolitical Rughooker and Fibre Artist

Employ To Empower Programming

Stage 1 – Business Skills Building Program

A 10-week business fundamentals course that will offer you the tools to build a business plan.

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Stage 2 – Mentorship Program

Upon completion of the 10-week

Entrepreneurship Skills Training program, you can apply to get access to:

  1. Personalized & group mentorship
  2. Access to micro-loans up to $10K
  3. Online e-commerce store to sell your product online
  4. Networking events – In person marketplace
  5. Monthly peer gatherings to contribute and ask for support for your business
  6. Free supportive counselling
  7. An occupational therapist to support you with anything related to personal well-being

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Stage 3 – Advocacy

After getting a couple of months of mentorship, share your story to help shift the stigma and educate the broader community on our platforms:

  • Podcasts
  • Talkshows
  • Documentaries
  • Workshops with private schools (subject to approval)

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Why We Do It.

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is considered one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada. Currently, there are many amazing non-profits tackling the issue of homelessness, and while this is important, we also believe it is equally essential to support people in the long term. Our goal is for people to succeed financially, socially, and mentally.

We strongly believe that no matter what your socioeconomic status, physical appearance, life experiences, and personal choices, we all experience the same emotional spectrum, and we all deserve to feel seen, heard, and validated. We aim to make sure our members are seen, heard and validated by empowering their self confidence and sense of worthiness.

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Our Corporate


We take a well-rounded approach to help members of the Downtown Eastside move towards self-sufficiency and we ask our corporate partners to join us and do the same. Through the support of our partners, Employ To Empower is able not only to keep supporting our members, but also to raise awareness of the Downtown Eastside community. We allow our corporate supporters come in any vertical they feel comfortable supporting with. Interested in supporting us? Click below to learn about all our offerings.

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Have Questions?

Contact us for answers or to sign up for our services! We're always available to provide you with support.

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