Entrepreneurship Stream

For those with self-identified disabilities that are interested in starting their own business, the Access Ability Entrepreneurship program offers the guidance, knowledge, and resources for your business to thrive. The program is split into two activities 

Activity One—Business Incubator:  

In a 12-month business incubator, eight participants are selected to develop ideas, create a business model and achieve goals for a sustainable business, with three phases:

Phase 1—Accelerator Phase: You will work full-time with Arthur L. Irving Entrepreneurship Centre. You receive a wage of $16.64 an hour for 35 hours a week for 18 weeks. You will complete regular milestones to support development of business ideas.

Phase 2—Support Phase: You get to launch your business while receiving support from the Arthur L. Irving Entrepreneurship Centre. There will be monthly coaching round tables to bring entrepreneurs together.

Phase 3—Mentor Phase: You will be paired with a mentor for one year. Mentors will help support your business and give you the knowledge and advice to grow.

Activity Two—Speaker Series:

Offers regular training sessions (minimum 18 per year) with speakers from the entrepreneurial ecosystem to aid in personal and business development. 

Participants will be eligible for $50 for their time participation and focus.  

Participants also have access to the Options Online program featuring asynchronous courses for skill and development. 


  • You are living in Nova Scotia with a self-identified disability and are interested in starting—or have already started—your own business.   
  • You are not eligible for EI.  
  • You must be entitled to work in Canada.   
Important Dates
  • Applications open on July 4
  • Application deadline is August 11 at noon
  • All program participants will be notified of program acceptance by August 15
  • Program will start on September 6
  • Training sessions will be held approximately every two weeks beginning mid-September on weekday evenings
  • Build skills and knowledge necessary to run your own business
  • Get paid for expanding your knowledge
  • Access to support and resources for your business
  • Flexible online sessions

Q: Do I need to pay? 

A: The program is free. We pay you, so you can attend the training sessions. 


Q: How do I get started? 

A: Fill out the application form or email us at aae@smu.ca if you have any questions! 


Q: Is there a recruitment process? 

A: Yes. We will review applications and interview potential participants for acceptance into the program. 


Q: Will the program help me develop a business idea or refine an existing one?  

A: You can come at any stage, whether you have an idea or are already operating your business!  


Q: Can I participate in the Access Ability Entrepreneurship program while still working a full-time job?  

A:  During the speaker series you can work a full or part time job, being mindful of your availability around event times, which will be scheduled on weekday evenings.  If you are accepted into the business incubator, the expectation is that you will devote your working hours to your business, while receiving financial support to do so.  


Q: What do you mean by a self-identified disability?  

A: A self-identified disability refers to a condition or impairment that an individual recognizes as a barrier to employment for themselves. The definition is broad and is subject to the person’s own interpretation. The program aims to be as inclusive and supportive as possible, so please email us at aae@smu.ca if you are unsure or have questions about eligibility.  

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