Self-Employment Program

See all GNWT Funding Programs


This program provides support to individuals who are starting a small business or taking over an existing business in which they did not have prior ownership. Individuals must agree to work full-time at the business. They must also not have held a business licence for more than three months, or participated in the self-employment program within the past five years.

Assistance is provided to clients by assessing their business idea, personal suitability, financial risks, and the resources available or required to be successful. In addition to funding, they receive counselling from Career Development Officers and a Business Expert.

Available Funding

Assistance provided will not exceed a total value of $26,000 for 52 weeks. The maximum value includes all eligible benefits.


There is no deadline. This program can be accessed at any time.


An individual is eligible for these programs if they:

  • reside in the NWT;
  • are of school leaving age (16 years old or older); and
  • are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or protected person as defined by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, who is entitled to work in Canada.

Additional criteria may apply to those wishing to pursue skills development and self-employment.

How to apply

This program is administered through ECE Regional Service Centres.

  • To access funding, individuals must first complete and submit an application form to the Career Development Officer (CDO) at your ECE Regional Service Centre. The CDO will help with career and educational planning processes, to explore the implications of being an entrepreneur and to assist with the development of an action plan, which includes an analysis of financial need.
  • Following the initial application, CDOs provide an overview of the Self-Employment Program and assess the client’s readiness for self-employment activities. This involves the completion of a Career Action Plan.
  • The CDO will discuss with the client the role and responsibilities of the Business Expert and how the Business Expert plays a vital support position, with clients pursuing self-employment activities.
  • The CDO refers clients to a Business Expert for a self-employment orientation session. The initial assessment with the Business Expert will help determine if the Self-Employment Program application is approved. Final approval of the program is made by the CDO.  

For more information about this program, contract your Regional ECE Service Centre.

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