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Self-Employment Option (SEO)

If you are unemployed and want to create a job for yourself by starting your own business, the Self-Employment Option can help. This program offers both financial supports and entrepreneurial assistance to eligible individuals. Supports can include receipt of Employment Insurance benefits while you work to start you own business as well as childcare.


Eligibility Information


To be eligible, you must be unemployed and thinking about starting a new business to create a job for yourself.


You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident legally entitled to work in Canada.


As well, you must meet one of the following conditions:


  • Have a current Employment Insurance (EI) claim.
  • Have had an EI claim that ended within the last three years.
  • Have had an EI claim for maternity or parental benefits within the past five years, then remained out of the job market to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, and now want to re-enter the labour force.
  • Not owe money to the Government of Nunavut.



Applying for Self-Employment Option


You can apply after speaking to a Career Development Officer (CDO). Once it is determined that this is the right program for you and a documented career action plan is in place, the CDO will refer you to one of our partner organizations for small business support.


The Government of Nunavut has partnered with two community futures organizations in the Baffin and the Kitikmeot regions to draw upon their expertise in providing expert support and advice to entrepreneurs. Baffin Business Development Corporation or Kitikmeot Community Futures stand ready to help with business counselling and to support the development of a sound business plan. Once our partners consider your business plan to be ready to go they assist with your application to the SEO program and forward your application to the Department of Family Services for final review.


You can contact these organizations directly at:


Together with our partners you will decide if your concept is viable and acceptable. You will also evaluate business plan priorities, whether the business is likely to survive in the marketplace, and what effect the business will have on current businesses.


Before you can apply for the Self-Employment Option, you and a representative from our partner organizations must agree that self-employment is a good option for you.


After reaching this agreement, you will be given a letter of support. The letter will state that you have drafted your business concept and have shown a need for help to further develop and/ or carry out your plan. It is at this point that you will officially apply for the Self-Employment Option by completing the Employment Assistance Services and Self Employment Option applications and submitting these to a Career Development Officer (CDO).


Your CDO will review your application along with the assessment and recommendation provided by our partners. Your application will then be assessed to determine your eligibility for the program and for funding.


Please Note:


  • The date your fully completed application is received by your CDO will be considered the date that you have asked for help. This date determines whether you qualify within the timeframes outlined in the Eligibility information section above. If an application is returned to you to have information clarified or added, it will not be considered fully completed until all of the information needed is received.
  • Your business, under the Self-Employment Option, must be a new business or an existing business in which you had no prior ownership.
  • The longest you can receive financial help in the form of grant payments is 52 weeks.
  • Financial help is intended to cover personal living expenses during the start-up stage of your business. It is not an investment in the business.
  • You must devote at least 35 hours each week to develop and carry out your business plan. You must also show proof of personal financial investment in the business.


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Funding assistance may be available for a number of supports including:


  • Living allowance.
  • Childcare expenses.
  • Transportation.
  • Special Equipment.
  • Training and business coaching.
  • Business plan development.


Applicants must be willing to discuss their business idea with a designated business expert.


Once the expert has approved the idea as a viable business opportunity, the client will be referred to a Career Development Officer (CDO) who will conduct eligibility checks and determine if the case can be approved.


How to Apply:

Apply to SEO by completing the EAS application forms or call a Career Development Officer (CDO) for information at:


Kitikmeot - 1-800-661-0845

Kivalliq - 1-800-953-8516

Qikiqtani - 1-800-567-1514


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You can also access this program through your local Community Futures organizations who are partners with the Department of Family Services for the Self-Employment Option.


Attached File(s):