What is the YMCA-SEP?

The YMCA-SEP is a fully online Self-Employment Program that takes participants from business concept, all the way to running the day to day business operations. Our highly skilled team of experts will provided blended support through 1:1 coaching, email, and the use of a Learning Management System. Our Teams will coach participants to translate business concepts into viable business launches and each participant will create and deliver a comprehensive business plan at course completion.

YMCA Self-Employment Information Session

Who is eligible to participate?

Click on the button below to download the Eligibility Checlist.

If you do not have Microsoft Word or similar word processing software, you can download LibreOffice, a free alternative to Microsoft Office, here: https://www.libreoffice.org/

To be eligible for our SE Services your business must be:

  • A new business (you have not been advertising or conducting business transactions)
  • You can purchase an existing business in which you had no prior business ownership
  • A business that won't result in putting another individual out of business
  • An appropriate use of public funding
  • Not entirely or partially based on commissions
  • Independent and not based on a parent company e.g real estate broker or an MLM business

What happens in the program? What will I be learning?

  • You will get 1:1 support
  • Team workshops or seminars
  • You will be assigned a Business Advisor to work with you along the way
  • You will learn skill sets such as: Business Operations, Cash Flow Forecasting, Accounting Principles, Marketing, Social Media, Networking, How to develop and present a Business Plan
  • You will have the ability to access your course material 24/7 on your computer, laptop, tablet, even your phone!
  • Our web-based training provides participants in rural or urban communities with new opportunities in building their business
  • We utilize webinar & video conferencing software to deliver training anywhere, whether it be the comfort of home or a library
  • You will gain the confidence and the skill sets to move your self-employment concept forward

If this sounds like YOU,

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own.” —Mark Victor Hansen

Forms & Documents

All documents must submitted before the program start date. Please contact Gila Schroeder at gila.schroeder@gv.ymca.ca to inquire about the next program start date

This section is broken into 2 parts, one you must complete before attending Orientation Workshop, and another to formally apply to the program after.

Part 1: Pre-Orientation Document

Before attending the Orientation Workshop you must complete the Entrepreneurial Self-Assessment below. Email to your Orientation Workshop Facilitator or bring a hard copy with you.

Complete both parts of the Entrepreneurial Self-Assessment (Download with button below)

If you do not have Microsoft Word or similar word processing software, you can download LibreOffice, a free alternative to Microsoft Office, here: https://www.libreoffice.org/

Part 2: Complete Application Forms and Supporting Documentation

After attending the Orientation Workshop, complete and submit the following 5 documents to apply to the program.

1. Self-Employment Application Package: 4 documents total. First, Download and complete the Business Concept Proposal Template (Word Doc) and Spreadsheet Template (Excel doc). Next, download and complete the YMCA-SEP Application Form and Business Concept Development and Acceptance form, referencing the Business Concept Proposal documents as required. (Download these 4 document templates with the buttons below)

If you do not have Microsoft Word and Excel or similar word processing and spreadsheet software, you can download LibreOffice, a free alternative to Microsoft Office, here: https://www.libreoffice.org/

If you do not have Adobe Reader to open these PDF files you can download and install it here: https://get.adobe.com/reader

2. Proof of Personal Investment (Photocopied statements: savings, chequing, line of credit, receipts of supplies and equipment, etc.)

3. Current Resume

4. Letter of Support from the SE O & A Facilitator (Lynne)

5. Letter(s) of intent and/or support (optional)

Submit Application Documents

Submit of the above documents in-person or via email attachment:

Email: gila.schroeder@gv.ymca.ca

In-Person: YMCA Community Programs (reception desk), 2nd Floor, Robert Lee YMCA 955 Burrard Street, Vancouver V6Z 1Y2


In order to participate you will need:

  • Computer capable of modern internet browsing: For example, 2-4 GB of RAM and a Dual Core 2Ghz or Higher (i3/i5/i7 or AMD equivalent)
  • Internet access: 5 Mbps or faster recommended
  • Video and audio: Webcam including Camera and Microphone and speakers/headphones. or a suitable combination of devices (video-only webcam + mic-enabled headphones)
  • Ability to listen and communicate via microphone and speaker or headset.
  • A quiet place to focus and participate in activities

*If you do not have access to any of these tools, please reach out to Gila Schroeder or your business advisor

"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success" - Henry Ford

Lynne Brisdon, MCC

A little about Lynne, Program Manager

  • Lynne was a Business Coach for Self-Employment Programs for over 15 years
  • She Freelanced in Media Production and educated in Media Resources
  • She has a private coaching practice on the side and attained Master Coach Credential with ICF

You'll see her around

  • Encouraging and supporting new entrepreneurs
  • Managing the program as well as pitching in to support program facilitation and business advising

Fun Facts!

  • Lynne loves movement and adventure
  • She rides a motorcycle, goes skiing and also has a quiet side practicing yoga, meditation and healing

Linda Lu

A little about Linda, Business Advisor

  • Linda has been working in the Self-Employment Program since 2011 when she was an admin/coordinator and has become a business advisor. She knows the program inside and out
  • She was the owner of a company for 4 years, recruiting experienced live-in caregivers from overseas
  • Holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from China, and took Accounting Diploma courses in Canada
  • Truly enjoys developing meaningful relationships with program participants while providing professional advise to assist their business venture

You'll see her around

  • You'll see Linda facilitating SE Program workshops, specializing in financial forecasting, and providing business advice in English and Mandarin

Fun Facts!

  • Linda loves all kinds of adventures: Bungee jumping, spur of the moment trips to Banff and has a quiet side that enjoys jogging and practicing yoga

Kristin Mclhenney

A little about Kirstin, Business Advisor

  • Kristin hails from the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia PA and is an avid Eagles fan
  • She taught History and Geography for over a decade and loves teaching and facilitation
  • She has a great sense of humour, in fact, she finds herself quite funny!
  • Kristin spent 3 years training and coaching moms throughout Canada to sell children's clothing
  • Working with her clients in Self-Employment 'fills her bucket' as she finds entrepreneurial folks inspiring

You'll see her around

  • Facilitating workings, specializing in Marketing and advising clients through business planning and launch

Fun facts!

  • Kristin is a human geographer and loves exploring places both near and far
  • She is a Master Recycler in Vancouver and can often be found doing yoga over her lunch break

Gila Schroeder (She/Her/Hers)

A little about Gila, Coordinator Administration Employment & Immigration

  • Gila has her M.A. in English/American Literature and Linguistics
  • She is currently enrolled in a Psychology degree program to obtain a future M.A. in Counselling
  • Originally from Germany and has worked in Admin Coordination for the past 7 years in both corporate and non-profit environments

You'll see her around

  • Gila supports participants in all things admin! Whether you have a random question, are missing a file or whatever it may be, Gila's the office wizard and will help you find the answer

Fun Facts!

  • Gila sings in a Gospel choir and has enjoyed singing and live music all her life. She regularly attends big concerts and her next stop will be seeing Lady Gaga in Las Vegas!
  • She is an introvert and loves preparing meals with her roomates
  • She exercises regularly and meditates every morning to clear her head

Cheryl McNicol

A little about Cheryl, Business Advisor

Cheryl lives in Gibsons on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of BC and has been working as a Business Advisor, Program Manager, and Contractor with the YMCA Self Employment program for over 15 years

  • She’s helped more than 500 aspiring entrepreneurs across Canada to start up and build successful businesses
  • Cheryl and her partner Ted have been operating a thriving human resource and business start-up practice since 2004
  • She holds an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree and a TESOL diploma (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) specializing in Business English

You'll see her around

  • Facilitating workshops, providing support, guidance and advice to entrepreneurs mainly on the Sunshine Coast of BC and the Sea to Sky area of the Lower Mainland

Fun Facts!

  • Cheryl loves to swim in the ocean and walk the beaches and trails on the Sunshine Coast. Listening to the waves rolling in on the shoreline is her way to relax and recharge.
  • Inspire, motivate and educate – words and actions that really resonate with Cheryl.
  • She is the co-founder of the Sunshine Coast Self-Employed Women’s Network (Sunshine SEWN) and is an active supporter of the organization.


  1. Expectations and Etiquette
  2. Program Timeline and Breakdown
  3. Contacts

In order to ensure a comfortable and open learning environment over the course of the YMCA-SEP, kindly review and respect the guidelines below:

  • Please be on time for any scheduled meetings or workshops
  • If you are unable to attend the scheduled session, contact the appropriate staff member via email or phone
  • Be respectful of the speaker - be it the facilitator or a member of your cohort
  • Keep your camera turned on during webinars or workshops
  • Monitor your email so you don't miss anything!
  • Stretch out of your comfort zone whenever possible
  • Ask for help - we are here with you every step of the way

Program Timeline

Week 1 Orientation and Introductions

  • Workshop 1: Orientation, Introduction to the Business Plan Guide, Introduction to the Online Platform, Facility Tour
  • Guest Speakers -Former SE Participants - TBD
  • Workshop 2: Core Values, Mission & Vision, Business History,
  • Seminar: Target Market Surveys

Week 2 Workshops and Self-Study

  • Workshop 3: Self-awareness, Product/Service Description, Features and Benefits, Elevator Pitch
  • Workshop 4: Target Market, Pricing and Primary Research
  • Guest Speakers:TBD Social Media/Marketing

Week 3 Workshops, Guest Speakers and Self-Study

  • Workshop 5: Industry Overview, Competitive Analysis, SWOT Analysis
  • Workshop 6: Marketing, Branding and Promotions, Social Media
  • Guest Speaker: TBD

Week 4 Workshops, Guest Speakers and Self-Study

  • Workshop 7: Managing Business Operations
  • Branding Workshop
  • Guest Speakers: Website Development

Week 5 Workshops and Guest Speaker

  • Workshop 8: Financial
  • Guest Speaker: Tony Miles (Financial Management)

Week 6 Workshops, Guest Speaker and Seminars

  • Workshop 9: Risk, Implementation, Exit Strategy, Business Goals
  • Guest Speaker
  • Seminar: TBD

Weeks 7-10

  • Executive Summary and Final Business Plan review with Business Advisor
  • YMCA Self-Employment Team review of Business Plans
  • Business Plan Presentation at WorkBC office

Program Contacts

Staff Contacts

We are here every step of the way.
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Hamlet Megan


Created with images by Danielle MacInnes - "Begin." • Marcos Luiz Photograph - "Worship" • Kelly Sikkema - "untitled image" • Igor Miske - "work" • Randalyn Hill - "untitled image" • Alexander Andrews - "old phone"