Ontario Government funds initiative to help Ontario business owners sell their businesses to immigrant entrepreneurs

The Ontario Government has enlisted the Toronto Business Development Centre to help Canadian business owners sell their businesses to international entrepreneurs.

Through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program – Entrepreneur Success Initiative the province aims to attract international entrepreneurs who will start or acquire businesses in Ontario communities outside the Greater Toronto Area and qualify for permanent residence in Canada.

The two-year pilot is administered by the TBDC and has the mandate to bring 100 entrepreneurs to Ontario.

Candidates can come to Canada on work permit and can qualify for permanent residence after 20 months – provided they meet the terms of a Business Performance Agreement signed with the provincial government.

TBDC experts are actively identifying Canadian business owners who are looking to exit their businesses. They will be introduced to qualified foreign entrepreneurs – who will be assisted by TBDC to find the right business opportunities outside the GTA.

TBDC experts will help international entrepreneurs in assessing businesses for sale, provide introductions to third-party resources, and help them prepare their expression of interest application under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program.

Once the legal formalities to acquire a Canadian business are in place, the process of securing a work permit can take between one and two months, after which the entrepreneur (and dependents) can move to Canada and work on behalf of the business as its new owner.  After 20 months, nomination through the OINP can be obtained if all conditions of the performance agreement are met.

Entrepreneur Success Initiative: Basic Requirements

The ESI is separate from the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program Entrepreneur Stream. It is an initiative that helps prospective immigrant entrepreneurs navigate the immigration application process and apply to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program Entrepreneur Stream.

The OINP is the government of Ontario’s immigration program. The OINP Entrepreneur Stream is for individuals with high human capital seeking to implement a new business idea or buy an existing business in Ontario. It targets entrepreneurial business owners, fosters innovation and productivity, promotes the development of new, globally competitive services and products, and leverages global diasporas to access new markets.

The OINP:ES involves two stages.

At stage one, candidates must submit an expression of interest. This involves submitting a self-assessed profile which is ranked by Ontario officials, who will then issue an invitation to apply to the top-scoring candidates.

Invited candidates then submit an application within 90 days and attend an interview. Successful candidates then sign a Business Performance Agreement.

The stage one requirements are as follows:

  1. Minimum personal investment of $200,000 to establish and operate or buy your business in Ontario
  2. Verifiable personal net worth of at least $400,000
  3. At least 24 months of qualifying business experience in the last 60 months
  4. Commitment to create a new business or purchase an existing business in Ontario outside of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
  5. Active involvement, on an ongoing basis, in the management of the business
  6. Capital investment is to make a profit, not to derive interest, dividends, or capital gains
  7. The creation of at least one permanent full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident

At stage two, candidates are supported by the OINP to apply for a work permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

With that work permit, they have 20 months from the date they arrive in Ontario to implement their business plan to acquire a Canadian business and meet the terms of the BPA.

Once this is done, candidates are nominated for permanent residence.

The stage two requirements are as follows:

  1. Language ability in English or French at minimum Canadian Language Benchmark 4 in reading, writing, listening and speaking
  2. Live in Ontario for at least 75% of the time you are establishing your business
  3. Actively manage the business
  4. Meet the terms of the BPA

Ineligible Businesses

Certain types of business are ineligible. They are listed below.

  • automated car wash
  • holding companies
  • laundromats
  • pawnbrokers
  • pay day loan
  • scrap metal recycling
  • tire recycling

What Is the Ontario Entrepreneur Success Initiative?

The ESI is for international entrepreneurs looking to build a new life in Ontario. The OINP Entrepreneur Success Initiative is managed by TBDC to help prospective immigrant entrepreneurs identify business opportunities in Ontario. It allows them to move to Ontario, establish their business and qualify for permanent residence.

What Is the Toronto Business Development Centre?

The Toronto Business Development Centre is the administrator of the OINP Entrepreneur Success Initiative. It helps entrepreneurs identify business opportunities in Ontario and apply to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program Entrepreneur Stream.

TBDC is Ontario’s oldest incubator and has built a reputation for helping businesses grow through access to mentorship, investment, and resources. TBDC’s mission is to support business venture formation, job creation, and economic growth.


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