Investment Readiness Program

Investment Readiness Program logo

The application period for Round 3 is now closed!

Below is a guide to the IRP application. If you have any questions, please contact Shady Hafez.  

Program Overview

The NAFC is one of five Readiness Support Partners mandated by the Government of Canada to deliver funding for the ​IRP. The IRP, through the five funding partners, will distribute $50 million to social purpose organizations (charities, non-profits, social enterprises, for-profits with a social purpose and co-operatives) to help build their capacity to participate in Canada’s growing social finance market. The IRP is also designed to help social purpose organizations (SPOs) prepare for the Government of Canada’s broader investment in ​social finance​ via the ​Social Finance Fund​, a historic new $755 million commitment which was announced in November 2018 and is expected to be launched in 2020.

As a Readiness Support Partner, the NAFC is administering $1.12 million in funding from the Government of Canada that will be made available as non-repayable capital to FCs and PTAs.

NAFC is working closely with the other four national organizations delivering the Government of Canada’s IRP funding. FCs and PTAs may also eligible to receive support from the other funding partners. To learn more about other Readiness Support Partners’ funding programs, criteria, and application periods, please visit their websites:


The NAFC will be hosting an information Webinar on the IRP application process on Monday, November 16 at 1PM EDT. Follow this link to access the Webinar on Zoom. 

In April, we hosted a webinar outlining the program, and took time to answer any questions FC and PTA staff may have had. Find the presentaion and transcript below. Another webinar will be hosted August 5th, at 1pm EST.

Project details for Round 2 recipients

Project details for Round 2 recipients

Below are the project details for the Round 1 recipients of the Investment Readiness Program:

Aboriginal Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan

Project name: Honouring Her Spark
Category: Large Scale
Details: The Aboriginal Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan (AFCS) has developed an Indigenous Women’s Economic Framework, which outlines that Indigenous women in Saskatchewan communities are ready to take the next step in their journeys to becoming successful and leading “good lives”. As shared in the framework, they are aware that addressing economic security and prosperity needs to be done in a culturally relevant and holistic manner. The AFCS will assist FCs in formalizing advocacy and support circles already established in many Saskatchewan Friendship Centres (FCs) as well as further developing Indigenous Women’s Coalitions.

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Centre d’amitié autochtone de Val D’Or

Project name: A building site towards economic and social prosperity
Category: Large Scale
Details: Since 1974, the Centre d’amitié autochtone de Val D’Or (CAAVD) has been providing accommodation and food services to Cree patients staying in Val-d'Or for medical appointments. Accommodations have been coordinated by the Cree Patient Services Department of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay (CCSSSBJ). These patients occupy 90% of the CAAVD's hotel service. The revenues generated by this economic activity are reinvested into community and front-line services, contributing to the strengthening of the capacity to carry out the mission. 

The CAAVD plans to increase its hotel services by building an annex to the existing building and by renovating the building, occupied since 1995. The cost of this work is estimated at $15M. Professionals, architects, engineers and real estate development consultants are accompanying the CAAVD in this project. IRP funding will allow the professionals to produce a functional and technical plan, a compendium of the functional and technical requirements to be integrated into the construction project and to establish the costs.

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Flin Flon Aboriginal Friendship Centre, Inc.

Project name: Social Enterprise Development and Assessment
Category: Explore
Details: With the IRP funding, the Flin Flon Aboriginal Friendship Centre, Inc. will assess the possible avenues for growth and the impact of its existing social enterprises. The Friendship Centre currently owns and operates three enterprises–The Wihkipow Restaurant, Kokoms Corner Gift Shop and Granny's Place (an overnight stay enterprise).

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People of the Dawn Indigenous Friendship Centre

Project name: Transformative Design Project
Category: Explore
Details: The People of the Dawn Indigenous Friendship Centre (PDIFC) have taken on the role of property manager for an existing commercial complex, which includes rented office space for government, non-profit organizations and community entities. In order to maintain the existing tenants and remain competitive in the commercial market, there are many renovations that require immediate attention. The PDIFC will use IRP funding to make the complex more accessible, functional and modern. This stable source of income will grant the PDIFC long-term sustainability.

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Red Deer Native Friendship Society

Project name: Ghost Tours Social Enterprise Development
Category: Explore
Details: The Red Deer Native Friendship Society would like to develop a ghost tour tourism attraction for Red Deer. Ghost tours are organized events encouraging participants to learn more about the haunted history of a particular location. During this particular ghost tour, the Red Deer Native Friendship Society hope to share Indigenous cultural experiences and local Indigenous history through the art of storytelling. Through researching local haunted locations in Red Deer, they hope to connect and build relationships with community members who hold historical knowledge. They also hope to build partnerships with businesses and organizations in our community to tell their haunted history.

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The Pas Friendship Centre Inc.

Project name: Indigenous Artist Emporium
Category: Explore
Details: The Pas Friendship Centre (TPFC) serves the town of The Pas and several surrounding Métis and First Nation communities. The TPFC will use IRP funding to produce a feasibility study and a business plan to research the viability of setting up an Indigenous art gallery and studio. During the summer months, the community welcomes several thousand tourists, and we would like to draw their attention to the many Indigenous artists in the area. Currently, our community does not have a dedicated space for Indigenous artists. As a result, they are using local malls, free outdoor locations, etc. and are selling their art at a fraction of what it is worth.

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Under One Sky - Monoqonuwicik-Neoteetjg Mosigisg Inc.

Project name: Under One Sky Indigenous Cultural Diversity Training Expansion
Category: Grow
Details: The Indigenous Cultural Diversity Training program (ICDT) was developed by Under One Sky Friendship Centre (UOS) as a response to repeated requests for cultural competency training from healthcare providers, educational institutes, local businesses, and municipal agencies. The program was developed with the support and guidance of The First Light Friendship Centre who have successfully achieved investment readiness through their own ICDT program. Under One Sky has prioritized the ICDT enterprise as a key financial lever which can generate sufficient revenue and profits that can be returned to the organization, and in turn capitalize the service delivery capacity of UOS, as well as its greater mission. The IRP funding will allow UOS to: train additional ICDT program instructors; retain expertise to evaluate the program, its impacts, and the social return on investment; and hire a business development consultant to identify and attract new clients, generate recurring revenue and find cost efficiencies in program delivery.

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Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society

Project name: Klatawa Bike Shop
Category: Grow
Details: The Klatawa Bike Shop has become a popular destination for cyclists. In fact, in the first three months, the bicycle shop had over 500 visitors who were either purchasing a bike or repairing their own bicycle. It is apparent that the bike shop has ample opportunity for growth including providing mobile repairs, pop-up tune-up stations, specialized manufacturer repairs and providing education programs to at-risk or marginalized individuals. With the IRP funding, our plans for growth include:

  1. The hiring of a senior bike mechanic
  2. Creating a mobile bike clinic – hiring up to four experienced bicycle mechanics who will be responsible for providing high-quality tune-ups and bicycle repairs in any Vancouver neighbourhood. The mobile service will operate Monday to Sundays with scheduled shifts that will accommodate day and evening services. The mobile team will offer a range of services including tire patches, bicycle tuning, complete overhaul of all bearings, chain replacements and other mechanical needs as required for mountain or road bicycles.
  3. Pop-up tune-up stations – We will set up special tune-up stations near bicycle routes within the City of Vancouver to ensure that cyclists who are passing by have the opportunity to have their bicycle repaired along their commute.

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Project details for Round 1 recipients

Project details for Round 1 recipients

Below are the project details for the Round 1 recipients of the Investment Readiness Program:

Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association
Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society
First Light St. John's Friendship Centre
Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre Association
Lillooet Friendship Centre Society
Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre
Regroupement des centres d'amitié autochtones du Québec
Victoria Native Friendship Centre
Wachiay Friendship Centre Society

Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association

Project name: Social Enterprise Collaborative Development
Category: Explore
Details: The Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association and three or four Alberta Friendship Centres will investigate a suitable candidate social enterprise project. The outcome would be to identify a social enterprise project that would create the desired benefits among the participating Friendship Centres. In addition, it would map out the resources each Friendship Centre could contribute to the desired project and any past experiences that could collectively be shared in moving forward.

Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society

Project name: Indigenous Culinary Arts Program Development
Category: Explore
Details: The Dze L K'ant Friendship Center Society plans to retain a local consultant to perform a feasibility analysis and to create a business model for a commercial community kitchen at their hall, and to roll out an Indigenous Culinary Arts Program and associated catering business.

First Light St. John's Friendship Centre

Project name: First Light Boutique Inn
Category: Large Scale
Details: The First Light Boutique Inn will be a revenue generating enterprise, which compliments existing services offered by the organization. The organization currently offers several medical services to Indigenous guests who travel to the capital city for essential health needs. This inn will fill a gap that currently exists for guests who require long term accommodation with an understanding of the unique cultural needs and wants of this clientele.

Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre Association

Project name: Indigenous Spirit Creations
Category: Large Scale
Details: In order to continue to meet the increasing demand for Indigenous cultural experiences, the Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre Association has located a potential site for an Indigenous cultural tourism centre. The prospective site includes a large facility, surrounded on three sides by the Lac La Biche Lake and includes a gymnasium, open space for campground development, and seven single dwellings, capable of generating rental revenue.

Our Association would like to acquire a full and complete business plan of the site for the purposes of expanding the already marketable Indigenous tourism cultural experiences established through Indigenous Spirit Creations. Our vision is that this new tourism centre will be northern Alberta’s primary Indigenous cultural experience. By completing a viable business plan, the Indigenous Spirit Creations project will amplify and strengthen existing partnerships within our community as we work together to create this unique Indigenous tourism experience.

Lillooet Friendship Centre Society

Project name: Realizing Self-sufficiency through Social Enterprise
Category: Explore
Details: The cultural centre will offer an art gallery, museum, tea house and commissary kitchen that will bring Indigenous communities, historians, curators, artists, wild crafters, crafters, storytellers and knowledge keepers together under one roof. Together, we will preserve our history, highlight and celebrate the present, and preserve our culture, traditional practices and stories for future generations to come.

This cultural centre will be rich in Indigenous culture and traditions and provide Urban Indigenous artisans and wild crafters with the exposure they require to become recognized artists and successful entrepreneurs. It will also provide the Friendship Centre with a mechanism to create a social-for-profit enterprise, while also generating revenue. It will offer a centrally located cultural venue that will provide opportunities for Urban Indigenous artisans and entrepreneurs to celebrate their work and talent through different forms of artistic expression.

Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre

Project name: Commercial Kitchen Relocation
Category: Large Scale
Details: The Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre is seeking to secure the additional funding required for us to relocate and expand our commercial kitchen. This will allow us to enhance and expand our catering services, as well as open a small restaurant that will serve our most famous meals.

Regroupement des centres d'amitié autochtones du Québec

Project name: Boutique web du Mouvement des Centres d’amitié du Québec
Category: Explore
Details: The objective of the project will be to create a web platform on which the Native Friendship Centers of Quebec can sell crafts produced by their members. Some Friendship Centers already offer this service to their members, however with a web platform would allow them to reach a wider audience. The financial precariousness of Aboriginal people in urban areas has been proven time and time again and craftsmanship is often a culturally relevant means of mitigating the harmful effects of this precariousness.

Victoria Native Friendship Centre

Project name: Purchase of two existing Indigenous arts and craft retail operations
Category: Explore
Details: We are seeking to determine the feasibility and level of community support to acquire two existing Indigenous arts retail stores located in Victoria, British Columbia. This project creates an opportunity for our Friendship Centre to address the social and cultural inequalities in business opportunities for Indigenous people as the market does not currently include any Indigenous owners. Our centre aims to change this by providing employment, training opportunities, and a fair-trade outlet for Indigenous arts and crafts.

Wachiay Friendship Centre Society

Project name: Wachiay Studio Equipment Upgrade
Category: Large Scale
Details: Wachiay Studio Inc. is a social enterprise owned and operated by Wachiay Friendship Centre Society. The Studio came into existence as a result of our evening art classes, which attracted increasing numbers of Indigenous youth, adults and Elders over the years. Our classes include screen printing, art skills development, cultural knowledge, and entrepreneurial training. Participants created One Tribe – a cooperative that promotes a social economy with benefits accruing to our Indigenous community members.

The Studio was incorporated May 17, 2015 with the social purpose to promote Indigenous art and culture and provide affordable printing services to Aboriginal artists, Aboriginal schools and community members and groups. We are capable of printing art on textiles, paper, wood, plastic, glass, metal and more. Our upgrade project involves the purchase of new machinery to replace out-dated equipment that is expensive to maintain. This equipment will accommodate increased capacity and enable further opportunities for community and artist growth.

Program Goals

The NAFC will support and encourage the growth and readiness of FCs and PTAs to join the social innovation and social finance ecosystem. Through the Investment Readiness Program funding, we aim to:

  • Increase Friendship Centre and PTA engagement in the social finance ecosystem;
  • Enhance Friendship Centres and PTA capacity to develop enterprises to help support service delivery and advance their respective missions;
  • Increase Friendship Centre and PTA accessibility to expert advice and information; and
  • Advance Friendship Centres and PTAs towards investment readiness.
General Eligibility

All NAFC-member local FCs and PTAs are eligible to apply for IRP non-repayable capital. To be eligible for the IRP, FCs and PTAs must demonstrate that:

  • They have, or intend to operate, a mechanism that generates revenue from the sales of goods and/or services;
  • They have, or plan to build, capacity and expertise to carry out the proposed project for which they are applying;
  • That the proposed project will assist the FC or PTA in fulfilling their respective missions.


Application Deadlines

The NAFC will hold three (3) IRP application periods before March 31, 2021.

There will be three deadlines throughout 2020. The application period for Round 2 closed on August 17, 2020. Round 3 opens on Novembver 9, 2020 and closes on November 23, 2020.

Application Details

FCs and PTAs can be in the early or late stages of development and anywhere in between, however we have dedicated specific amounts to various stages of development, please refer to the following funding streams to see where you fit:

  • Explore ($10,000-$15,000K)

Exploration and ideation of the initiative - aligning a proposed solution to an identified need. Examples include: Feasibility analysis and community support development; business model development; use of data for planning & impact measurement; and diversification of funding sources. If the enterprise is not an existing enterprise or if research and development has not been carried out prior to this application, you must apply for the Explore stream in the first application round.

  • Start ($15,000-$50,000)

Needs identified, business feasibility demonstrated, plan and model in place and developed. Ready to begin early phases of implementation.

  • Grow ($15,000-$75,000)

Sustainable cash flow and assets, track record for sustainability and networking with prospective investors. Funds will be used to grow and expand the enterprise.

  • Assess / Impact ($10,000-$15,000)

Explore and evaluate the impact of an existing project or funded project.

  • Large Scale Project ($80,000+)

Project or idea that requires over $80,000 to realize. Demonstrate business feasibility, community support, diversification of funding sources and any current cash flow and track record for sustainability.

Eligible Expenses

The IRP provides funding in the form of a grant to cover the following expenses:

  • Specialized support service by a qualified professional who acts as an external resource and who is selected by the organization on the basis of a detailed service offer: costs related to customized support, participation in an incubator or an accelerator;
  • Financing of studies carried out by a qualified professional, who acts as an external resource and who is selected by the organization on the basis of a detailed service offer: organizational diagnosis, cost analysis and implementation systems, market research, technical studies, plans and specifications, business plan, marketing plan, development plan, financial forecasts or any other study relevant to the realization of a project;
  • Hiring essential internal human resources (project manager, coordinator and others) to carry out the investment readiness project;
  • Production of prototypes (including market and product/service tests);
  • Travel, representation and other expenses deemed essential to the completion of the project;
  • Research and development (R & D) related expenses;
  • Expenses related to the development of the organization’s project: expenses related to the rental of premises, computer equipment, telecommunications cost, supplies and other operating expenses;
  • Market solicitation fees;
  • Acquisition of technology, software or software packages, patents and any other expenses of a similar nature;
  • Viability study;
  • Impact measurement;
  • Minor asset purchases (must be related to enterprise development);
  • Minor renovations (must be related to enterprise development); and
  • Software or web design product.

Other expenses may be considered. To receive guidance, please contact our IRP Coordinator, Shady Hafez.


What the non-repayable capital cannot be used for?

IRP non-repayable capital cannot be used for Friendship Centre or PTA regular operating costs (“core” costs). This includes ongoing administration costs, funding for additional permanent staff, rent, or procuring real estate.

IRP funds cannot be used for Covid-19 small business relief, if you are seeking small business support for your enterprise please refer to this document for more information on small business relief in your region.


Evaluation Criteria

To be considered for non-repayable capital from IRP, applicants must meet all IRP eligibility criteria, provide the required supporting documentation and describe their social enterprise’s social, environmental or cultural impact or desired impact. Enterprises must demonstrate sound business practices and planning. As well:

  • Friendship Centres or PTAs must have, or plan to operate, a mechanism that sell goods and/or services.
  • The proposed project must move the organization forward (towards investment readiness) in its enterprise development.
  • FCs and PTAs must demonstrate they have a detailed and appropriate budget for their project.

The following are the NAFC’s definitions of each term.

Social Purpose Organization: A social purpose organization (SPO) is an organization that is not centred on monetary profit and is advancing a social, cultural or environmental mission. A SPO can be a charity, non-profit, social enterprise, co-operative, or for- profit social enterprise. For the purposes of the IRP, the NAFC considers all NAFC-member FCs and PTAs to be social purpose organizations. 

Social Economy: Friendship Centres play an important role in the social economy. The NAFC is adopting wording from Chantier de l’économie sociale regarding the definition of social economy. For the NAFC-funded component of the IRP, the NAFC will consider all economic activities with a social purpose carried out by FCs who either operate or own for-profit enterprises, whose activities consist of the sale or exchange of goods or services with the purpose of meeting the needs of urban Indigenous community members or the community as a whole.

Social Enterprise: A social enterprise is a business, whether independent or owned by an organization, that is mission-driven, aiming to sell goods or services to earn a revenue, while also helping achieve positive social, cultural or environmental objectives. FCs often operate social enterprises as either a subsidiary business or operate the social enterprise directly in addition to its non-profit work. As social enterprises, the revenue generated from FC-owned businesses should support the delivery of services or the overall mission of the FC itself.

Social Finance: Social finance is an investment that has a positive social, cultural or environmental impact that also generates some return for investors. Through loans and investments, social finance can give FCs access to opportunities to create new streams of revenue and in turn sustain the missions of FCs.

Social innovation: Social innovation supports new solutions to pressing social, cultural and environmental concerns. However, many of the social innovations that are developed by Indigenous communities and organizations are not necessarily new but rather are drawn from Indigenous principles and ways of knowing. In some situations, a social innovation may include the resurgence of an Indigenous way of knowing, practice, or approach to a contemporary matter.

Investment Readiness: Under the IRP, the NAFC seeks to support FCs and PTAs with acquiring skills, knowledge, techniques that, once mastered and implemented within the Friendship Centre movement, will move down the readiness spectrum and increase preparedness for financial investment in FC social enterprises. In preparing for investment, FCs can adopt approaches related to new entrepreneurial projects and new tools to attract new investment to increase the impact of their social mission.

Stream Flow Chart

The NAFC developed this flowchart to assist FCs and PTAs identify which stream may be appropriate for them.

IRP flowchart