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We are Employ to Empower

Using entrepreneurship to foster confidence and a circular economy.

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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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ETE means the world to me because it has been a life-long dream to be an author. I have seen many outstanding CHANGES personally, as in more confidence and willingness to learn. ETE has taught me to be more accountable, mindful, and open-minded and I am now able to laugh and share the joy with others. ETE is an important part of the community because there is so much talent here in the DTES

YvonneEntrepreneur at Employ to Empower

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 Training

An Ideation workshop to explore/discover what entrepreneurship is about and come up with business ideas.

A 10-week Business Skills Training program that will offer you the tools to create a basic business plan for your business idea.

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Stage 2 – Mentorship Program

Upon completion of the 10-week Business Skills Training program, you can apply to get access to:

  1. Personalized mentorship for 6-9 months
  2. Free mental health support from an in house registered counsellor
  3. Business networking and marketing tools
  4. Networking events – In person marketplace
  5. Monthly peer gatherings to contribute and ask for support for your business
  6. Access to micro-loans up to $10K

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Stage 3 – Community Partnerships

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

  • Documentaries (staff nomination)
  • Humans of Employ to Empower short video series
  • Speaking Opportunities with corporations / institutions
  • Workshops with private schools (subject to approval)

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The blue skies vision for the Employ to Empower team is for our community of
entrepreneurs to become contributors, where they share their wisdom that they’ve
gathered from our program to help others, creating a ripple effect of change. We
see our organization creating a CIRCULAR economy, one that’s sustainable and
meaningful. Participants finish our programs, but we don’t ask them to leave. We
ask them to return as mentors, facilitators, and speakers and empower them to
become leaders. We as an organization are simply providing resources, the true
champions are our entrepreneurs.

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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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